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Speech at the launch of a new General Motors Holden export initiative, Fisherman's Bend.

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Innovation, Industry, Science and Research: Minister


Fisherman’s Bend Victoria


It’s over twenty years since John Button and far-sighted managers and union leaders took Australian car-making by the scruff of the neck and transformed it from an industry focused on the local market and cocooned by protection to an industry that competes globally and sees its future in exports.

The figures speak for themselves. In 1982 auto exports totalled $277 million. In 2007 they topped $5 billion. Even allowing for inflation, that’s exponential growth.

Twenty years ago, less than a tenth of the vehicles built in this country were exported. In 2006 the figure was 40 per cent.

The car industry now accounts for 17 per cent of our elaborately transformed manufacture exports.

These are good figures, but they can be better.

Like the prime minister, I want Australia to remain “a country that actually makes things”, and one of things I want us to go on making is cars.

To do that, we need to keep strengthening our position in international markets and networks.

We need to boost innovation and increase our export focus.

The two go hand in hand. More international exposure leads to more innovation and more innovation leads to more export capability.

This dynamic needs to be accelerated. We should be aiming for even tighter integration with global supply chains and an even stronger presence in the global marketplace.

It’s the government’s job to create the right policy environment - and we are working on that through our automotive review.

It’s the industry’s job to take the initiative. It’s no good waiting for opportunities to emerge. We have to go out and create our own opportunities.

IISR Minister > Senator the Hon Kim Carr

Senator the Hon Kim Carr

16 Mar 2008

Page 1 of 2 Minister - Innovation, Industry, Science and Research


That’s what Holden has been doing, and the new export program being announced today is a fitting reward for its efforts. It’s a pleasure to be here to mark the occasion.

Holden continues to surprise the industry with its innovative concept cars - from the Commodore Coupe a decade ago to the Coupe 60 unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show last month.

Not intended for production, these cars give us a glimpse of what’s over the horizon in mechanics, electronics and materials.

We can see the same design and engineering expertise in the Holden VE.

The sedan version is already being exported to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Lumina and the USA as Pontiac G8.

The ute version is being exported to South Africa and New Zealand. And that’s not to mention the company’s vehicle and engine sales to the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Today’s announcement that the VE ute will be exported to the US builds on that success.

Holden first cracked the US performance vehicle market with the Monaro, which evolved from the Commodore Coupe concept car and was exported to the States from 2003 to 2006.

It made Detroit sit up and take notice of Holden’s capabilities and secured the local company a place at the global table.

The VE export initiative is taking up where the Monaro left off, consolidating Holden's reputation as a quality car maker and reinforcing its status in the General Motors family.

GM Asia-Pacific actually outperformed the parent company in 2007, thanks in part to a strong showing from Holden.

It’s important that we maintain this momentum as we face up to the many challenges confronting the industry - especially the challenge of climate change.

That’s why we’re undertaking a comprehensive review of the automotive industry and why we’ve committed $500 million to a Green Car Investment Fund.

My aim is to create an Australian vehicle and components sector that’s sustainable in all senses - economic, social and environmental.

It’s to foster new capabilities that will enable Australia’s car makers to solve new problems.

It’s to boost production, employment, exports and skills by harnessing the creativity of every player in the industry, from the boardroom to the shop floor.

Holden’s success in capturing global mindshare - and global sales - through excellence in design is proof it can be done.

Media contact: Patrick Pantano, Minister's Office, 0417 181 936

Page 2 of 2 Minister - Innovation, Industry, Science and Research