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Holden’s threat to close is real, says minister

Shakey ground: South Australia’s manufacturing minister Tom Kenyon believes Holden’s threats carry some force behind them.

Doubts over Holden’s long-term future make their way into SA government ranks

Holden logo10 Jul 2013

THE South Australian minister who oversees the state’s manufacturing industry has aired concerns that Holden could stop making cars in Australia by the end of this year.

Minister for manufacturing, innovation and trade, Tom Kenyon, today said he was genuinely concerned that the car-maker would close up shop as it struggled to deal with a high Australian dollar, lower demand for its locally made cars and the uncertainty of a federal election due later this year.

"This is not some idle threat. This is not some game that they (Holden) are playing trying to screw more money out of the government,” Mr Kenyon told the ABC.

This is a genuine commercial position that they are in, forced by all number of factors, including the high dollar and various things around the world."The doubts over Holden’s long-term future – expressed for the first time by a South Australian politician – come after reports surfaced this morning saying the car-maker would ask the federal government for an extra $60 million in funding to help it stay viable.

 center imageLeft: South Australia’s manufacturing minister Tom Kenyon.

The car-maker has since dismissed the funding claim – enough to help it break even on about 9000 locally made cars – as nothing more than speculation.

Holden announced two weeks ago that it would hold talks with unions representing the 1100 workers that would remain at the company’s South Australian and Victorian manufacturing bases after it lets go of 400 employees this month as part of a voluntary purge of its workforce.

It hopes to have talks – and a deal – wrapped up by the start of next month.

A spokesman for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union that represents Holden’s blue-collar workforce said the group would not be making any statements while talks with the car-maker were continuing.

Holden late last week agreed to allow Goran Roos, an expert in manufacturing business model innovation, to pour over its books at the request of the Federation of Vehicle Industry Unions.

Professor Roos will have a month to sift through Holden’s financial data and come up with suggestions on how the business can run more efficiently.

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