The report that the decision to close Holden came by way of a phone call half hour before the decision was announced sounds strange. It sounds as if the Abbott Government was bypassed in the announcement. If you look at the way the Abbott government has been trying to bully General Motors in the last week it is not so strange. If the decision was marginal it was time for negotiation, not for throwing governmental weight around in the media. Did Abbott tell GM of any of his announcements before he made them public? How would a company like GM react to a person like Hockey threatening them in Parliament instead of talking to them? Did GM simply join the long list of entities, such as Indonesia, China and the UN that the Abbott government has managed to piss off in the last three months? Did the ‘Perfect Storm’ GM refereed to include Abbott?
All over the world countries subsidies and support local car industries because they understand that a country that builds cars can build anything. Car making is the basic training ground and skills development area that all other manufacturing industries rely on. If Australia stops making cars the backbone of Australian manufacturing will be gone. If Abbott continues treating major manufacturing companies the way he treated GM the mining companies will be the only ones left and they only dig holes.
Abbott’s backward facing stance sees digging more holes and dumping the waste on the Greet Barrier reef as the way forward. Or maybe Australia becoming no more than a quarry is what this is all about. It might be good for the big mining companies in the short term but the world is changing rapidly and we need to be able to look after ourselves. That means the ability to be as self sufficient as possible. Take away the car industry and we become dependent on others in a way that takes Australia back 60 years.
Fortunately there is just sufficient time for one more election before Holden closes and I hope that Labour will start negotiating a deal with GM to keep manufacturing in Australia to be implemented when Labour wins the next election.