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Holden backs carbon tax

E85 ethanol: Holden chairman Mike Devereux calls for focus on energy independence and security with ethanol, bio fuels and LPG.

Holden MD says impact on fuel prices would be minor, is keen to cut emissions

1 Mar 2011

HOLDEN says it will support a carbon tax in Australia, despite possible effects that even a small petrol price rise will have on Commodore sales, because manufacturers are striving to reduce emissions worldwide.

GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said the government’s proposed levy is insignificant against global oil price fluctuations.

Mr Devereux told the media at the unveiling of the Australian-built Cruze small car in Adelaide that Holden’s planned development and rollouts would not be affected.

“We have to deal with whatever outcome happens, but what people may not realise is that the car industry is actually committed to reducing carbon emissions, so we don’t have a preference (about whether petrol is included in a carbon tax),” he said.

“Lower-priced fuel in general helps people buy more cars, so to that extent I suppose you would like to see fuel prices low, but when you start talking about what this carbon tax would do – and I think the quotes out there are about an increase of six cents per litre – I think our eye should be on … energy independence and security with ethanol, bio fuels and LPG, because Australia actually has everything it needs for a lot more energy independence and security than it has today.

 center imageLeft: GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux.

“When oil prices can go from US$70 per barrel to $US140 per barrel in two months, then I think that six cents is pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. People hold on to those things erroneously. There are bigger things at play than six cents a litre.”

Mr Devereux also denied that a carbon tax would change Holden’s course in Australia, revealing instead that it might help promote more innovative and considered approaches that may actually work towards lowering emissions.

“Our plans (remain) our plans,” he said.

“I think that, as the new policies on carbon unfold, there will most likely be opportunities for all industries to be more efficient in how they create vehicles or mine things out of the ground, or generate electricity or refine petrol and diesel. It will be a fairly large equation.

“GM is committed, Holden is committed to making things in this country, and that commitment does not waver with these new policies in any way.”

Mr Devereux said that – as both Holden boss and president of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – there is ongoing discussion with both major political parties on the creation of a carbon tax.

“The good thing about it that there is a dialogue between the government and the industry as a whole, and to me that is the most important thing. It hasn’t always happened in the past, and bad things can happen when people don’t talk.

“So we don’t have any trepidation about policies. As business people, we deal with the pack of cards that we’ve been dealt and try to make the best car for people who buy our products and for the economy as a whole.

“We have to be pretty adaptable in this business. One of the challenges we have – and this doesn’t just apply to Holden – is very long lifecycles. New architectures require decisions made four to six years in advance, so what happens in between in terms of legislation or currency fluctuations or export demand or whatever does (require us) to live our lives being flexible.”

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