Thursday, 12th December 2013

HOLDEN IS HISTORY

"Either you're here or you're not," taunted Hockey on Tuesday.

The response from Holden, arriving shortly afterwards, was this time unequivocal: We're not.

“The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country," the company stated, "including the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world.”

It was long recognised that the Coalition was unlikely to keep subsidising the car industry to the degree that Labor would have. Just how much this ultimately affected Holden's decision is academic now.

Unfortunately Holden's departure is unlikely to be the last of the bad news. The only remaining auto manufacturer, Toyota, is now under "unprecedented pressure," as the company's own statement put it. Unit costs will rise further, and its supply chain – local component makers – may be stretched to breaking point.

Tony Abbott this morning declared, in reminiscent tones, that Toyota won't get any additional money from taxpayers to ensure its survival.

The government, which has so far demonstrated little support for the industry, now needs to make the case to the nation that auto manufacturing's demise is part of a broader transition to a more sustainable and dynamic economy, rather than just a sorry end.

BREAKING: Same-sex marriage laws overturned by High Court

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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Some home truths on Australian competitiveness

"The high price of land in Australia is one of the reasons businesses like Holden and Qantas are uncompetitive, and the combination of several recent developments is making the situation much worse. Australian house prices are already among the highest in the world, both in absolute terms and relative to income, and are now starting to rise rapidly again, especially in Sydney."

Holden closure: Tony Abbott to meet premiers over company's decision to leave Australia

"Australia's entire car-making industry and tens of thousands of jobs have been thrown into doubt by Holden's decision to close down by the end of 2017... The PM says a package of measures will be announced soon to help the communities affected by Holden's closure."

Also: Government's treatment of Holden was bizarre (Phillip Coorey, AFR)

Tony Abbott defends Holden stance, rules out more money for Toyota

"Tony Abbott has declared Toyota won't get additional money from taxpayers to ensure its survival, as he defended his government's response to Holden's financial difficulties in the months before yesterday's announcement it would stop making cars in Australia."

Also: Government should take the lead on Holden aftermath (Laura Tingle, AFR)

Taunts in Parliament and text brought about General Motors Holden's exit from Australia

"For Holden management, which had been in commercial-in-confidence discussions with the government for months, it was a clear signal that the federal cabinet had turned on the company, and wanted a swift end. Holden staff members were not the only ones listening in to the ''extraordinary'' events unfold in Canberra. So was GMH managing director Mike Devereux."

Also: Holden opens a Pandora's box for Hockey (Rob Burgess, Business Spectator)

Go easy, Joe, you're playing with fire

"The government believes the scale of the deterioration in the budget and economic forecasts in its update document will deliver a jolt to financial exchange markets like no other budget document since at least the global financial crisis. In parliament, Joe Hockey has used the word "alarming" to describe the expected impact of the budget update on the public at large. There is a danger that the new government's first major economic statement will extinguish what was an incipient economic recovery."

Gay asylum seekers told they could be reported to PNG police

"Gay asylum seekers on Manus island are being told they will be reported to the PNG police if they engage in homosexual relations while in detention, a new report by Amnesty International says. The report is the second damning assessment of the government's offshore detention regime in less than a month, and identifies “a host” of human rights violations in Australia’s regional processing centre in Papua New Guinea."