The Victoria Automotive Chamber of Commerce calls for more government support to quash any chance of GM Holden production being moved out of Australia.

The leading auto-industry organization in the Australian state, representing 5,000 employees in the retail, service and repair sectors, says more government aid to local manufacturers will ensure the industry’s long-term success.

The call for stepped-up government aid follows news reports suggesting GM Holden’s Commodore in the future will be built on overseas global platforms. The General Motors division says reports that Commodore design and engineering work will be moved out of Australia are premature.

“In horse-racing terms, local manufacturers are capable of running the distance,” David Purchase, the chamber’s executive director, says in a statement. “However, they are handicapped with a high Australian dollar, cheap imports and globalization.”

He says Australia “absolutely” needs manufacturing and it should be bolstered with targeted financial assistance generated from the mining and resources boom.

“Other countries do this in all sorts of ways and get away with it on the world stage, and so should we,” Purchase says. “I regard this assistance not as handouts, but rather an investment in our future.

“I am not suggesting we throw bags of money at every manufacturer, but governments need to go further and financially assist local manufacturers, even when they might not be as competitive as their overseas counterparts,” he says.

Australians have not lost their appetite for new vehicles, he says. October sales of domestically produced models grew 20.1% year-over-year to 13,450 units.

“The government cannot ignore the fact there is a demand for locally manufactured vehicles,” Purchase says. “To ensure the local supply continues to keep pace with demand, more financial investment, and over a long period, is required.”