House debates

Monday, 23 October 2017

Private Members' Business

Holden

5:01 pm

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

When the last Holden rolled off production in Adelaide on Friday it was the end of an era. The automotive manufacturing industry, begun by Liberal Premier Sir Thomas Playford, supported our economy and countless families in South Australia for decades. Over the course of its 70-year history, Holden produced some 7.3 million vehicles, including 2.3 million of the staple in many Australian garages, the Holden Commodore. The loss of employment in Adelaide's north will be felt hard by workers, their families and South Australia's economy as a whole.

I hope that new and emerging industries, such as the Naval Shipbuilding Plan, will find room for the experience and skills that ex-Holden workers will bring with them. We must remember, though, that there will still be workers in Australia carrying on the Holden legacy. General Motors will continue to be supported by around 1,000 staff, including a 350-strong design and engineering team. Holden's dealer network will also remain important, with some 6,000 staff across Australia. In my electorate of Boothby we're lucky to have one of Adelaide's most iconic dealerships, Hamilton Holden, on Brighton Road, operated by David Hamilton and his daughter Sally Hamilton.

We have known for some time that General Motors Holden was going to leave South Australia. It followed the decision of Ford and Toyota in Victoria, and Mitsubishi, at the turn of the century, in southern Adelaide, in my electorate of Boothby. With a monumental economic shift such as this, members of parliament are responsible for analysing and understanding the factors that have led us to where we are today. To my mind, there is no doubt that the cost inputs for manufacturing in Australia have been one of the biggest reasons for the decline of car manufacturing. The responsibility for these increasing costs lies squarely at the feet of the Labor Party and the unions. They have left Australia with the most globally uncompetitive wages in the world and have effectively priced Australian workers out of the market. The most generous salaries and terms and conditions of employment are worth absolutely nothing if you don't have a job. They're worth nothing if your product cannot compete on the world stage, because, as an isolated island, with a small population, we're reliant on trade to keep our businesses going. These facts are lost on those opposite, I know.

I also wonder what those opposite, who are blaming everyone but themselves for the closure of Holden, have done to personally support Holden. I bet they have not done nearly as much as my family has over the years to support Holden. I grew up in a family that taught me the importance of looking after local businesses by supporting them with your purchasing power and decisions. That's why I'm a proud third-generation Holden owner. My grandparents on both sides were farmers and both were Holden owners. They owned about five farm utes each over the years and 16 or so Holden sedans between them. I have photos here of my paternal grandfather, my dad and my uncle with a range of these Holden utes in their paddocks. I have photos of my mum and my uncle, as very small children, standing with my grandfather in front of several of the utes that would tow their caravan family holidays.

My mum grew up to be a rev head, a gene I have inherited, and I have photos here of my mum with her first GPak Torana, her Kermit-green 4.2-litre V8 Holden Torana SLR, and my parents' V8 Commodore station wagon—which they had to buy when they had three children and then ended up with four not long after that. And I have many pictures of my parents' more recent Commodore sedans. My parents have also owned about 10 Holden utes over the course of their 40-or-so-year farming careers.

My first car was a Holden Astra. The second was slightly less refined. As I wrote when I was still a columnist with The Advertiser in Adelaide, before being elected to this place:

For three fun and sometimes fraught years, I owned a piece of Holden motoring history.

Lady Di — full name Lady Dianne — was a 1982 Holden WB ute, or at least she was on paper. By the time I bought her it was impossible to tell how many times she had been pulled apart and pieced back together.

She had a 5-litre V8 engine, HZ premier front-end, five-post bullbar, roll bar and numerous other modifications. She was, of course, a manual.

I am proud to say I now own one of the very last Holden Commodores ever made, a testament to three generations of Holden history within my family. We have proudly supported this very proud South Australian business, and we've done our part to support our proud Australian culture. I look forward to enjoying many years with one of the last remaining Holdens to come off the production line.

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