Holden halts Australian production

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has told Parliament it is a ‘‘sad, bad day’’ for Australian manufacturing and has pledged a strategic response to help workers affected by Holden’s decision on Wednesday to stop making cars locally from 2017.

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the government of daring Holden to sack people, saying the Coalition knows the ‘‘price of everything and the value of nothing’’.

The government will in the coming days release a ‘‘considered package’’ of measures, Mr Abbott said, to rebuild confidence in the long-term future of manufacturing and the regions of Adelaide and Melbourne where Holden operates.

Sixty-five years after it first began producing cars in Australia, Holden confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it would cease local manufacturing in 2017.

Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said in a heated press conference that the decision to wind down its Victorian and South Australian manufacturing facilities within four years was taken on Tuesday afternoon, by the General Motors senior leadership team in Detroit.

“GM has made this decision, it is irreversible,” Mr Devereux said, ruling out any chance of renogotiations, following an intense attack by the federal government over the past week. 

Abbott promises worker help

The move ends weeks of intense speculation and years of uncertainty surrounding the brand’s Elizabeth production line and Port Melbourne engine plant from the company that began as a saddlery in 1856 and first started manufacturing cars locally in 1948.

Holden said it would "transition to a national sales company in Australia and New Zealand" from 2017 and cited the strong Australian dollar, high production costs and the competitive local market for the decision.

GM has made this decision, it is irreversible. - Mike Devereux

"Holden is not leaving Australia. Holden is committed to the auto industry in Australia",  Mr Devereux said.

"We expect we will be a thriving brand in this country for many years to come."

From 2017, Holden will comprise a national sales company, a national parts distribution centre and a global design studio.

‘‘We really are facing a complex and perfect storm of conditions,’’ Mr Devereux said.

‘‘It would seem to global leadership at General Motors that it doesn’t make long-term business sense for us to continue to assemble vehicles in Australia."

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