The government will work with Toyota to ensure the automotive
sector remains viable in Australia, Prime Minister Tony
Holden's US owners General Motors announced on Wednesday it
would stop making cars in Australia from 2017, shedding
almost 3000 jobs in Victoria and South Australia.
This leaves Toyota as the major car maker, but there is
speculation it could also go due to supply chain problems
after GM's decision as well as business cost pressures.
Mr Abbott said generous assistance had been offered to keep
Holden in Australia "within the parameters" of the
coalition's industry policy taken to the election.
"I deeply regret for the last three months, which is as long
as we have been in government, we haven't been able to hold
Holden," Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
"But the fact is there was already money on the table.
"The challenge now is to ensure, as far as we reasonably can,
that Toyota stays and that is what we are working on."
Mr Abbott said it was wrong to engage in recriminations, lay
blame or peddle false hope about Holden.
"The important thing now is to build the kind of economy that
will create the jobs of the future in successful,
competitive, world-leading businesses and that is why the
government is so determined to get taxes down and regulation
down," he said.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said he had hoped Holden
could hold off its decision until a Productivity Commission
report was completed in early 2014, so the government could
consider a new car industry policy.
Mr Abbott said that once companies decided their operations
were not going to be viable for the long-term "it's very hard
to hold them".