Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
A $100 million salvage package for redundant car industry workers is underfunded and in disarray, more than a month after Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to announce the details of an assistance program.
In mid-December, against the backdrop of Holden's demise as a local manufacturer, Mr Abbott promised to create a ''$100 million growth fund'' to assist the manufacturing sectors in South Australia and Victoria and a pair of reviews chaired by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to determine how to allocate the money.
But more than a month after a self-imposed March deadline, the reviews have not yet been discussed at cabinet level, and won't be until the next scheduled cabinet meeting on April 14 at the earliest. Fairfax Media can also report:
■ Just $72 million of the promised $100 million has been raised by the federal government.
■ Holden, Toyota and the South Australian government are refusing to contribute until they are given full details on how the money will be spent.
■ Members of the review panel into the Victorian economy have not been given a copy of the preliminary report they worked on.
It is understood Victoria wants at least $75 million from the $100 million fund, a claim that has rankled South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.
Of the $72 million raised so far, $60 million has been pledged by Mr Abbott and $12 million by Victorian Premier Denis Napthine.
The review panel's preliminary report was handed to the federal government in the first week of March and has been sitting on Mr Macfarlane's desk since, but it has not yet been discussed despite the minister's best efforts. It is believed the report was delayed because of the decisions by Toyota and Alcoa to shut down operations in Altona and at the Port Henry aluminium smelter in February.
Dr Napthine said on Tuesday he had not yet received the federal government's report on the Victorian economy, but said he understood a ''preliminary report had been finished''. The Victorian review panel was chaired by Mr Macfarlane and included Trade Minister Andrew Robb, Victorian MP Sarah Henderson and business leaders Frank Costa, Jackie Fairley, and Mark Birrell.
Mr Costa said he had not seen ''any report'' from the panel and did not believe the full $100 million had yet been raised. ''I am not sure where the funding is at, but I don't believe it's all there,'' he said. ''If [the report] has been done, I certainly haven't been informed about it at any stage. It's all a bit slow, isn't it?''
Fairfax Media revealed tensions between the Victorian and federal governments in February had erupted after the manufacturing closures in Victoria, with the Premier agreeing only at the last moment to keep a meeting with the Prime Minister.
Dr Napthine's office warned its federal counterparts that it had a list of infrastructure priorities it wanted met, but a federal source said Canberra would not "fund a road to nowhere" just to help the Napthine government.
Mr Abbott ultimately attended the February 19 meeting, and confirmed the federal government was about to receive the report on the Victorian economy and "in March we'll have some announcements to make and then in the build-up to the budget there will be further announcements to make". But that timeline has since elapsed.
Victoria's contribution is contingent on receiving the ''lion's share'' of the funding, arguing most of the affected workers come from the state.
A spokeswoman for the Industry Minister said the federal government was still finalising its response to the reports by the economic review panels. ''The government's response will be carefully considered and comprehensive and will take into account the changes at Holden and Toyota, as well as the broader national industry investment and competitiveness agenda,'' she said.
Opposition industry spokesman Kim Carr attempted to force the government to table the reports by March 24, but the government ignored the order.