Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


Automotive Industry

1:44 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

'NEILL () (): I want to associate myself with the remarks of Senator Griff. I think it's a very important issue and it's great that it's acknowledged.

Today, I want to make a contribution about the conclusion of the ACCC investigation into the conduct of General Motors towards its dealership network, following its decision to withdraw the Holden brand from Australia. Australians love their Holdens. They not only got shunted offshore by this government, but General Motors also got away with a disgraceful act because this government didn't act to help Australian consumers and Australian jobs.

The ACCC noted that General Motors conduct is a lesson to all franchisers of what not to do, but they did it on the watch of this government, aided and abetted by the government who did nothing to stand up. This finding from the ACCC is in line with the findings of a bipartisan Senate report. The Senate carefully inquired and then castigated General Motors for their appalling treatment of the Holden dealer network. These are small businesses distributed right across our country. General Motors conduct led to the collapse of dealerships across this country and they prompted me to introduce a private senator's bill to address this power imbalance. I want to take the opportunity to thank particularly my Labor colleagues, who supported this through the Labor Party, but also the crossbench who helped actually save the car dealer network and industry across Australia by supporting my private senator's bill.

Australia's car dealers employ 60,000 local Australians, and nearly 7,000 trainees and apprenticeships are provided in that sector. It is part of the social fabric of towns, suburbs and communities across this country. Now the government knows about information asymmetry, but when they were called on to defend small businesses the gap between what they promise and what they deliver is an absolute chasm. There is one thing we can constantly say: this government is no friend of small business.