Topics: Holden closure announcement, car industry
Ben Fordham: The Federal Government is furious at General Motors for letting the Holden brand die. After operating for 164 years in Australia, Holden will be gone by the end of the year following today’s announcement. All dealerships close their doors, 600 Australians lose their jobs, and we could see an end to the Holden supercars.
On the line the Federal Minister for Industry, Karen Andrews. Minister, good afternoon.
Karen Andrews: Hi Ben.
Ben Fordham: It’s not a good afternoon for many Australians.
Karen Andrews: No, it’s a terrible afternoon. Many of us have grown up with Holden and for them to just take their bat and ball and walk off is really disappointing.
Ben Fordham: How much money did they get out of the Australian taxpayers?
Karen Andrews: Billions of dollars. In fact, about $2 billion they have received in government support over the years. So this makes their current behaviour even more disappointing.
Ben Fordham: I’m sure they would say that this is business and they just can’t survive.
Karen Andrews: Well, what they’ve said to me is that their business case just didn’t stack up for them to stay in Australia. But what I will say is, at my press conference this afternoon I said I’d be talking to Ford. I’ve spoken to Ford, I’ve spoken to their CEO. They have confirmed that they are as committed as ever to Australia. They’re continuing to invest strongly here. They’ve got about 2000 people here. So what that proves to me is if companies are willing to invest, then alongside government support, they can not just exist but they can flourish in Australia. So there’s a warning to Holden about what we think about their behaviour.
Ben Fordham: Did General Motors give false signals to the Australian Government about its future?
Karen Andrews: They didn’t give any signals and that’s what the issue is. Now, it’s all okay to have 20-20 hindsight, but the reality is they advised the Prime Minister a matter of minutes before they made this public announcement, and that’s not good enough.
Ben Fordham: Should they be repaying some of the billions of dollars we’ve given them.
Karen Andrews: Well I’d be very happy to see them use some of that money to support their workers who have now lost their jobs and to make sure that the dealers, who are also going to be losing business, get what they need to continue.
Ben Fordham: What happens next? Do you call them in for a please explain, or has the horse bolted?
Karen Andrews: Look, I think the horse has actually bolted. They have said that they’re going to look after workers, they’re going to look after dealers. We’ll hold them to account on that. But quite frankly, we’ll turn to other people who have a commitment to Australia and make sure that we’re working alongside them, as we have in the past.
Ben Fordham: Minister, thanks so much for your time this afternoon.
Karen Andrews: It’s a pleasure.
Ben Fordham: Karen Andrews, the Minister for Industry.