Topics: Holden closure announcement, car industry
Tom Elliott: Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology joins us right now.
Ms Andrews, good afternoon.
Karen Andrews: Hi, how are you?
Tom Elliott: I assume you’re disappointed that Holden is shutting down.
Karen Andrews: Oh, I’m very disappointed. Very disappointed. Like many people, I’ve got some really great memories of my first vehicle, which was a Holden Torana, so it’s been a big part of my personal history. But more importantly for that, you’ve probably got 500 plus people in Victoria that are about to lose their jobs. I mean, that’s a devastating outcome.
Tom Elliott: Yeah.
Karen Andrews: And I think it’s appalling that Holden did not reach out to the Government, didn’t speak to the Prime Minister until just before they made the announcement today.
Tom Elliott: But what would have been the point of that? I mean, if Detroit- and this decision was made at GM HQ in Detroit, USA. If they’ve made up their minds, what would reaching out to the Government have done?
Karen Andrews: Well, a better explanation of what was in their business case that meant that they were not going to be able to continue in Australia. I still don’t know what they’ve used as their criteria. I mean, I probably would’ve pointed them in the direction of the great success that Ford’s had here in Australia. And I know that at this point in time, it’s probably a bit of salt in the wound, but quite frankly, Ford’s committed to supporting Australia. They’re as strong as ever, and I’ve spoken to the CEO this afternoon. They’re continuing to invest here strongly. They’ve got over 2000 employees, and most of those are in design and engineering.
Tom Elliott: Yeah, well, that’s right. But I mean, as I understand it, General Motors is getting out of right-hand-drive globally, and they’ve been doing that for the past few years. Now, short of- you know, changing Australia from right-hand-drive to left-hand-drive, I’m just not really sure what could have happened.
Karen Andrews: Well, I don’t know that Holden have absolutely committed to getting out of right-hand-drive…
Tom Elliott: …Oh, they have.
Karen Andrews: That’s not what they’ve said to me, and I asked them that specifically. So yes, they’re reducing their capacity, but I don’t believe that they’re moving entirely out of right-hand-drive vehicles, and I asked that question of them specifically this afternoon. So if they’re now saying different things, then I’m happy to take that up with them, but that’s not what they said to me.
Tom Elliott: But when you say they, you’re talking about the local executives of Holden, correct?
Karen Andrews: Yes. There was also some Home Affairs representatives there…
Tom Elliott: …Yeah, it’s just that the locals don’t know. I mean, I’ve asked them too and they’ve all said until they’re blue in the face: no, no, we’re here to stay, we’re here for the long term, dot dot dot. But I mean, this has apparently been just as much of a surprise to the local management of Holden as it is to all of us, that it’s Detroit saying, you know what, apparently in the last 48 hours they’ve just changed their mind. They are getting out of right-hand-drive, and that’s it.
Karen Andrews: Well, what they pointed out to me is that they have made some changes globally over the last couple of years – effectively pulling out of Europe, changes in India, changes in Thailand, so their announcement has today for Australia. Look, it is disappointing. There has been a lot of support for Holden from successive governments here, to the tune of about $2 billion. I would have thought that they would have had a greater commitment to Australia, so it’s very disappointing.
Tom Elliott: Alright. Thank you so much. Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.