December 05, 2013

Horse 1575 - The Inevitable End of The Australian Automotive Industry - Officially Unofficial
Holden has made the decision to pull out of Australia as early as 2016, according to senior Government ministers.
The ABC has been told the announcement was supposed to be made this week but has been put off until early next year.
However, the ABC understands that Holden has made the decision to cease its Australian productions regardless of an assistance package.
- ABC News, 5th Dec 2013

As I write this, ABC News 24 is reporting that Holden is "deciding" to cease its Australian manufacturing operations following the announcements made by Senior Government Ministers. It sounds curious that everyone is only just reporting this now, when a little over twelve months ago, GM released the following press release announcing a $450 million plan to build cars in Argentina:
General Motors will invest $450 million between 2013 and 2015 to expand its Rosario Automotive Complex to build an all-new global Chevrolet vehicle, Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said Wednesday.
Akerson was joined by Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; GM South America President Jaime Ardila; and GM Argentina President Isela Costantini.
- GM Press release, 24th Oct 2012

It was pretty obvious that the "all-new global Chevrolet vehicle" would be based around the Zeta Platform or its replacement. The thing is that the total global market for Zeta platform cars in the last three years has shrunk to a trickle. Apart from the Camaro and Commodore variants which includes exports to the US under the Chevrolet badge, there's no longer any point to the platform from a price point perspective.
Holden themselves remain tight lipped but you'd expect that when the sword of Damocles dangles tanatlisingly above their heads.

The sad truth is that car manufacturers around the world base their investment decisions around the likelihood of government subsidies. The current Abbott government in just 100 days has threatened to close Australia Post, cut funding to the ABC, dishonour its agreements on Education spending and now that Qantas looks like its in trouble, what is the government's attitude? Total abrogation of any responsibility that it might have.
This is the perfect opportunity for Tony Abbott himself to bash* the snot out of any unionised workers that Holden might have. Having just signed a free trade agreement with South Korea today, it's a perfect opportunity to personally hurt the members of the Manufacturing Workers Union.

What I find particularly galling is that during GM's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the US Government bailed out the company; yet even during all of this, CEO Dan Akerson still asked for a $2m pay increase and American workers were effectively paid bonuses from "consolidated funds" which means to suggest that effectively the Australian taxpayer contributed to American workers' bonuses; yet this is how GM decides to repay the favour?

Between a case of simple economics by a company whose management is more than 10,000 miles away and honestly couldn't give a rip about Australian workers, and a government who has made it blatantly clear that they fully intend to throw the working classes off the bus and the repeatedly run over them, I think that we can probably take it as read that Holden won't be manufacturing cars in Australia by 2017.
As I said in Horse 1217: "If it comes down to a street fight between Detroit and Elizabeth, I think I know who'd win." Well it looks like that day has finally come... Detroit won.

*Bashing things is something that Tony does best. From his days at Sydney University when he became president of the Student Representative Council, his modus operandii has been to kick anything and everything to pieces that he did not like even if that included a charge of indecent assault (no seriously, I'm not making that up:

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