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Car industry support fund closes with untapped money

Taken for granted: The $42 million Automotive New Markets Program has only handed out $18 million in industry support before winding up.

Automotive support program closes despite being $20 million in credit

Holden logo2 Jul 2014

A $42 MILLION federal government-backed fund to help car parts makers move out of the automotive industry has closed its books after handing out only $18 million in grants.

The Automotive New Markets Program, set up last year to help parts suppliers wean themselves off the three Australian car-makers, officially closed yesterday leaving more than $20 million in dollar-for-dollar industry support untouched.

The grants – the original fund included a $30 million contribution from the federal government, as well as contributions from the South Australian and Victorian governments – have helped car parts makers including bonnet, bootlid and door specialist Hirotech Australia, body and transmission parts maker Precision Components Australia, driveline specialist Harrop Engineering and plastics maker Palm Plastics, to diversify from automotive products.

Grants were valued at up to $1.1 million, and ranged as low as $108,000.

Projects have ranged from coffee cups to developing metal-look plastic trim, LED lights for military use, making flat-pack modular buildings, and researching engine management systems for unmanned surveillance aircraft.

According to the department of industry, the Automotive New Markets Program is the only automotive sector funding program to switch off from today in the wake of the announcements that Ford, Holden and Toyota would all exit Australian car-making by late 2017.

A department spokesman said leftover funds from the program had rolled over into the newly formed Automotive Diversification Program, a $20 million grants program established to support automotive supply chain companies to “diversify out of the domestic motor vehicle manufacturing sector through investment in capital equipment”.

“In deciding to replace the ANMP with the Automotive Diversification Program, the Australian government used uncommitted ANMP Commonwealth funding and added to it,” a department spokesman told GoAuto.

“The ADP is not a co-funded program.”

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