Government inquiry seeks quick answers

The government has accelerated its inquiry into the car manufacturing industry in a last-ditch bid to convince Holden to stay.

The government has accelerated its inquiry into the car manufacturing industry in a last-ditch bid to convince Holden to stay.

It has given the Productivity Commission just seven weeks to report on the industry, demanding an interim report by December 20. It wants a final report by March 31.

The deadlines are tighter than those announced by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane earlier this month, who spoke of an interim report by Christmas and a final report by June.

It would allow the reports to feed into the budget process and the deliberations of Holden's owner General Motors, which has indicated if it is to stay in Australia it needs to make plans by Christmas.

The company is unlikely to announce closure of its Adelaide and Port Melbourne plants until after the South Australian elections in March. It had promised to keep manufacturing in Australia until 2022 under a $275 million "co-investment" promised by the Gillard and South Australian Labor governments.

The Coalition has not matched Labor's commitment and has promised only to hold a Productivity Commission inquiry before deciding what to do.

The inquiry's terms of reference, released on Wednesday, require the commission to take account of "the type and level of support provided to overseas manufacturers" with a view to offering the same support.

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