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Holden "catastrophe" looming, says Weatherill

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The closure of Holden now looms as a reality, Premier Jay Weatherill said today.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall and Weatherill both agreed that news that Holden boss Mike Devereux is leaving Australia is a bad sign for the car maker’s future.

On Friday, chairman and managing director Mike Devereux announced he was leaving at the end of the year to take up a senior position with General Motors in China.

His replacement is yet to be named.

“Yes, it’s a bad indication of where it’s going for Holden,” Marshall said in a live debate with Weatherill on ABC Radio today.

The Premier said the Devereux news placed further urgency on the Federal Government’s deliberations about whether to further subsidise the auto industry.

“We are in a very dangerous situation,” Weatherill said.

“Every day the federal government waits on whether it will commit to the co-investment strategy, the more dangerous it gets.

“The closure of Holden is a reality.

“The knock-on effect will be a catastrophe for the economy of this State.”

Weatherill said he had indicated to Devereux that he was disappointed by his decision because he saw him as a strong advocate of Holden staying on in Australia.

Holden warned recently that it needed to cut costs and receive continued government assistance for its Australian factories to remain viable.

Last year, it reached an agreement to receive $275 million in state and federal funding to develop and build two new models from 2016.

But it is now thought Holden needs more money to commit to its plans, possibly as much as $500 million.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane recently met Devereux in Adelaide and says he will do whatever he can to ensure Holden’s future.

But he says he doesn’t have a bag of money to throw at the company and will press ahead with plans for a productivity commission review of the car industry.

An interim report from the commission is possible before Christmas, but that still looks likely to push any final decision on Holden’s fate into the new year, after the departure of Devereux.

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