Holden's departure 'devastating'

HOLDEN's decision to stop making cars locally from 2017 is a "devastating outcome for thousands of Holden workers and their families". 

Labor member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said manufacturing in the region was key to the regional economy. 

"It's a sad day for Australia," she said. 

About 2900 Holden workers will lose their jobs over the next two-and-a-half years as a result of the decision. In Melbourne 1300 jobs will go and in Adelaide 1600.

Ms Chesters said it was vital the federal government continued to partner with industries like the car manufacturing industry in research and development.

"I have already started to contact local manufacturers and workers to discuss how this outcome will affect their businesses and jobs," she said. 

“If we want to be a country that produces and makes things, we also need to be a country that buys what we make."

“That means governments, businesses and families buy Australian made. 

“It means accepting that we’re not always going to pay the lowest price for goods and services.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Wednesday it was a ‘‘sad, bad day’’ for Australian manufacturing and pledged a strategic response to help workers. 

‘‘The government will be announcing measures in coming days that ... will offer hope for the people of the regions impacted,’’ he said. 

‘‘It is not the time to play politics, it’s not the time to indulge in the blame game, it’s not the time to peddle false hope.

"It’s a time for a candid and constructive conversation with the Australian people, and it is time for a considered and constructive response from government.’’

Meanwhile, Toyota warned that Holden's departure would put ''unprecedented pressure'' on its ability to stay.

Toyota is already attempting to slash $17 million in costs by reducing wages and conditions for its Melbourne workforce. It will learn in the Federal Court on Thursday whether it can even put the proposal to a vote of its production staff.

Australia's $21 billion auto manufacturing sector employs 50,200 workers, according to the Bureau of Statistics, with 28,300 of them in Victoria.

Australia's car parts industry, which accounts for more than 160 suppliers, will also see widespread job losses as a result of General Motors' decision.

Holden began as a saddlery in 1856, and started manufacturing cars locally in 1948. It will begin downgrading production next year in Melbourne, shutting Fishermans Bend in late 2016, and Adelaide in 2017.

- With The Age 

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