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Holden R.I.P.


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#1 Bob Riebe

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 16:48

This bit is worth watching.

Sad, at the same time it makes me very happy I was not born any later than I was, early fifties.

I grew up reading , and hearing, a lot of auto/racing history from before I was born so it never seemed that distant even though it was a hard life society then.

First races I saw were 1/2 mile dirt track super modifides, fastest were reallly sprint cars with a roof added; if you sat in the front rows you often covered your drinks and popcorn as cars went by to stop dirt from flying in.

Sold popcorn in the stands when I was 12 years old.

Boys born after the seventies, really have no idea of what an unencumbered  gear-heads rule, camping was a canvas tent, often in no camping way-side rest if necessary, and not be hassled by LEOs, life style  was.

 

https://www.macsmoto...car/#more-76703


Edited by Bob Riebe, 26 March 2020 - 19:19.


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#2 GreenMachine

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 22:05

Thanks Bob, I hadn't seen that.  Not a bad summary of the life and death of GMH.

 

I had an involvement in industry policy back in the day, and although not directly involved in automotive industry policy, at the time I thought that the Button plan, an initiative to better integrate the industry into the global, or at least regional, industry, had the seeds of success.

 

However, there were several things that brought it and the industry undone.  The first was the flat-footedness of the locals in recognising the fundamentals shift in the marketplace, and their inability to react quickly to market opportunities - perhaps hobbled as branch offices, entrepreneurship was lacking or stifled.  The volatility of the 'little Aussie bleeder' (aka the $AUD) made investment and product planning difficult, and add to that the rapid growth in the regional car manufacturing capacity and its proliferation of models (aka consumer choice) created a situation where the local industry was simply overwhelmed.  Throw in the small size of the local market, the GFC, etc and here we are.  Inevitable?  Probably.  Could we have handled it differently/better?  I think so, and while it may not have changed the outcome in the long, or even the medium term, the transition may have been easier and led to more productive activity than we did.  But that is water under the bridge now.



#3 Ian G

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 23:15

Thanks Bob, I hadn't seen that.  Not a bad summary of the life and death of GMH.

 

I had an involvement in industry policy back in the day, and although not directly involved in automotive industry policy, at the time I thought that the Button plan, an initiative to better integrate the industry into the global, or at least regional, industry, had the seeds of success.

 

However, there were several things that brought it and the industry undone.  The first was the flat-footedness of the locals in recognising the fundamentals shift in the marketplace, and their inability to react quickly to market opportunities - perhaps hobbled as branch offices, entrepreneurship was lacking or stifled.  The volatility of the 'little Aussie bleeder' (aka the $AUD) made investment and product planning difficult, and add to that the rapid growth in the regional car manufacturing capacity and its proliferation of models (aka consumer choice) created a situation where the local industry was simply overwhelmed.  Throw in the small size of the local market, the GFC, etc and here we are.  Inevitable?  Probably.  Could we have handled it differently/better?  I think so, and while it may not have changed the outcome in the long, or even the medium term, the transition may have been easier and led to more productive activity than we did.  But that is water under the bridge now.

 

Yeah,good summary,but the Elephant is the cost of doing Business in Oz over the last 20-30 years.Shell Exec. was interviewed by the ABC when they announced the closure of their last Refinery in Oz. When quizzed about high wages and power costs he replied that its not any one factor just a general environment where the cost of doing Business in Oz. was too high and for Shell their Investments are better elsewhere.  

On top of high wages and power costs there are high Insurance premiums,aggressive Unions to deal with on a daily basis,anti dismissal laws etc.and as you mentioned not knowing the value of the A$ in the years ahead which has a history of collapsing and taking years to claw its way back.

I just hope this latest Corona Virus thing causes the Oz Govt. to re-evaluate our manufacturing base and stop China running our Economy,its ridiculous. 



#4 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 06:14

This bit is worth watching.

Sad, at the same time it makes me very happy I was not born any later than I was, early fifties.

I grew up reading , and hearing, a lot of auto/racing history from before I was born so it never seemed that distant even though it was a hard life society then.

First races I saw were 1/2 mile dirt track super modifides, fastest were reallly sprint cars with a roof added; if you sat in the front rows you often covered your drinks and popcorn as cars went by to stop dirt from flying in.

Sold popcorn in the stands when I was 12 years old.

Boys born after the seventies, really have no idea of what an unencumbered  gear-heads rule, camping was a canvas tent, often in no camping way-side rest if necessary, and not be hassled by LEOs, life style  was.

 

https://www.macsmoto...car/#more-76703

I have not seen a Supermod for about 10 minutes. One in my back shed!

And saw one on a trailer a couple of hours ago. Where it was going I have no idea as there is no events on at all.Anywhere in Oz.

As for Holden,,, all the hooha about saving Holden was a bit poor. The Chinadore assembled in Australia. In the end about 50% Australian, Ford and Toyota were closer to 75%.

BUT politicians of all creeds were all about economic rationalisation. Local manufacture could not survive without subsidys. 

The 30% were over the top but 10-15% would have saved the sector. That and some stronger rules for the unions who managed to push all their members out of a job.

Labor were content to simply throw money at the manufacturers, a sheltered workshop for unionists. Something far better was required. Though since the manufacturers closed up shop the scenario was probably profitable. With the AUD in the low 70 cent range to the USD.

And with this pandemic our lack of manufacturing capabilities is coming back to bite us hard. But again stupid politicians could not see that. In reality the WW2 is what gave us the confidence to attempt  manufacture instead of just assembly.


Edited by Lee Nicolle, 28 March 2020 - 06:26.


#5 Ian G

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 22:49

My Niece is a Journo and she was told Abbott/Hockey were advised further support to Holden or Toyota(Detroit decided Ford Oz  was going no matter what) would just be kicking the can down the road.We would be swamped by Asian built cars in the 2020's that the local Industry would have no hope of competing against,same car Industry 'experts' said by the the late 2020's Chinese 'battery on wheels' EV's would be retailing sub A$20,000 and eventually closer to A$10,000. 



#6 SGM

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 00:01

Yeah,good summary,but the Elephant is the cost of doing Business in Oz over the last 20-30 years.Shell Exec. was interviewed by the ABC when they announced the closure of their last Refinery in Oz. When quizzed about high wages and power costs he replied that its not any one factor just a general environment where the cost of doing Business in Oz. was too high and for Shell their Investments are better elsewhere.  

On top of high wages and power costs there are high Insurance premiums,aggressive Unions to deal with on a daily basis,anti dismissal laws etc.and as you mentioned not knowing the value of the A$ in the years ahead which has a history of collapsing and taking years to claw its way back.

I just hope this latest Corona Virus thing causes the Oz Govt. to re-evaluate our manufacturing base and stop China running our Economy,its ridiculous. 

 

 Ian G, if you are happy to take a 90% pay cut to compete with workers in a developing nation, go for your life. Aggressive unions? The union movement in Australia has been castrated since the 1980's and I find it pretty poor that people want to blame the workers for wanting a fair go when CEO pay packets and company profits have gone through the roof in the same period. It is just not right to say the cost of doing business in Australia is too high and this is a lie stemming from the big corporations and unfortunately people fall for it hook line and sinker. What they actually mean is they can make a greater profit elsewhere, which is a big difference. These are the same companies that don't want to pay tax or contribute to our society. What you are seeing is free-market capitalism in all its glory, he who is biggest wins. We are on a race to the bottom where even some of the original "cheap labour"  countries are becoming too expensive and new cheaper alternatives are being sought. If Australia wants to become a third world country and pay its workers peanuts and have no social, economic or environmental regulation we can compete on a world scale but is this really what we want to do?
 
 The great lie of globalism was that it was supposed to bring third world countries up to first world country standards but in fact the opposite is taking place. The only success story of globalism is the multinational corporations and their CEO's who have benefited massively. Unfortunately the benefits haven't flowed onto workers or governments and in fact the only thing propping up most of the old western economies is massive private and government debt. Even prior to Covid 19 if you stopped QE in the USA there would have been a recession. 1% interest rates are not a sign of a healthy economy. The old tariff system wasn't perfect but at least it protected our industries and was a relatively fair way of trading with another country. What should have happened in the Holden case is that the government should have shown some backbone and threatened to place a 30% tariff on all imported vehicles. It was the same with Caterpillar in Australia, 800 jobs lost to Thailand when Australia is the biggest importer of mining vehicles in the world. Even a small rise in import tariff on mining vehicles would have not only saved those jobs but created more.
 
I will agree with you that it is the politicians who are to blame as they have allowed corporations to become so powerful that governments take their orders from them and not the other way around as it should be.


#7 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 01:08

Fact, the unions killed their own jobs. Car factory workers earned about 50% more than others in similar industries. So priced themselves out of a job. So many Mitsubishi [remember them] would not take jobs at 'normal' wages and eventually found themselves unemployable. I know of a few, some accepted normal wages and had to pull their heads right in financially [ sell the boat and caravan to pay the mortgage] and others unemployed since. I am about 3km from that plant.



#8 GreenMachine

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 02:47

Some trite comments here, simplistic thinking summed up in Fact, the unions killed their own jobs. Don't let your ideology blind you to the complexities of the modern economy. On wages, the only reason any inflated wages could have been paid was because of either protection behind high tariffs, or inherent profitability of the enterprise (and of course those two are linked). What killed the jobs was competition, AKA the market - the jobs were in building the wrong cars. The market had moved, the manufacturers were blind (or too flat-footed to respond fast enough) to the movement, turning more and more to government handouts, and inevitably that proved unsustainable.

On 'cost of doing business', I'd be careful what you wish for. To take just two things, unemployment benefits and universal health care, these will play a major role in our current health and economic troubles. We have the infrastructure and systems in place to underpin a response, and you can make the comparisons with others as well as I can.

Although we have moved down the path towards 'I'm all right Jack, bugger you', we still run a low-level welfare state. That comes at a price, and taxation is its name. When Big Oil says we don't want to pay tax in Australia, we want to keep all our money for ourselves, that is OK? In any context? Like right now?

#9 SGM

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 03:11

Fact, the unions killed their own jobs. Car factory workers earned about 50% more than others in similar industries. So priced themselves out of a job. So many Mitsubishi [remember them] would not take jobs at 'normal' wages and eventually found themselves unemployable. I know of a few, some accepted normal wages and had to pull their heads right in financially [ sell the boat and caravan to pay the mortgage] and others unemployed since. I am about 3km from that plant.

So you believe everyone should earn the same pay. I'm glad there are still a few socialists around...


Edited by SGM, 29 March 2020 - 03:11.


#10 Ian G

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 23:37

So you believe everyone should earn the same pay. I'm glad there are still a few socialists around...

 

I don't think he said or implied that as is your interpretation of my original post.

Kim Carr,the Labor Front Front Bencher,in his efforts to save Holden said Unions have to adapt to life in the 21st century,a lot of the old practices have to go in order to benefit the many instead of a few.For his efforts he was disendorsed by the left faction of Federal Labor only to be reinstated by Shorten.

The change in attitude by the Car Industry Unions in Aust. happened around 2012 when the Geelong Union leaders realised something was up,no new model being developed,natural attrition in the work place with staff not being replaced etc.,they held meetings with Oz. based Ford Execs. who were denying Detroit was shutting down Oz. production but 2 years later the announcement came and suddenly the Union Reps. had a lightbulb moment,they would be,and the workers they represent would soon be out of a job.Ex Union Reps. are near to unemployable in Aust. by major Co.'s.

They went cap in hand to Ford,the Federal Lib. Govt and Labor for help but it was too late,Ford Suits in Detroit had made the decision.

Kim Carr and the South Australian Govt. then went in to try and save Elizabeth,to a lesser the Victorian Govt. trying to save Fishermans Bend.   

It was all too late,despite the South Australian Govt. guaranteeing Holden lower Power Costs and Millions in subsidies,the Unions reaching a deal on wages that would last 5(?) years Detroit wanted huge subsidies from the Federal Govt. and that was only to guarantee local production until 2022.

Abbott/Hockey baulked,GM Detroit said 'see ya'  and that was the end of Holden,sad day for Australia in many aspects.

Sorry about the long windedess but that is only a summary of the original article.



#11 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 04:06

So you believe everyone should earn the same pay. I'm glad there are still a few socialists around...

Errr, yet again the unions priced them selves out of a job.

Sure there was plenty of other reasons the industry died. But production line workers earning a LOT more than other workers do similar jobs in Australia. Let alone our Asian opposition.

I dated a lady for a while who worked at Holden. She knew the end was coming and was getting as many hours while the work was there as she knew she would never earn the same money elsewhere. After divorce she had had to repurchase her house and wanted it done before Holden closed.



#12 SGM

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 05:25

Errr, yet again the unions priced them selves out of a job.

Sure there was plenty of other reasons the industry died. But production line workers earning a LOT more than other workers do similar jobs in Australia. Let alone our Asian opposition.

I dated a lady for a while who worked at Holden. She knew the end was coming and was getting as many hours while the work was there as she knew she would never earn the same money elsewhere. After divorce she had had to repurchase her house and wanted it done before Holden closed.

 
Unfortunately your jealousy of unionism is clouding your judgement. 
Fact 1. Many of the businesses that have taken their factories offshore didn't even have union bargained EBA's and virtually no union members. 
Fact 2. Australian governments past and current have made it too easy for companies to move offshore. 
 
Blaming workers for the loss of their jobs is a low blow and is not a fact, it is an opinion. Perhaps you can find some ex-Holden workers at your local pub and tell them directly it is their own fault for losing their jobs, rather than hiding behind your computer.
 
 
 

Edited by SGM, 30 March 2020 - 05:39.


#13 Dipster

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 06:51

I really know little about Holden cars. I did like the few I drove. They were decent cars in their class.

 

But what is being said (I was tempted to say "vented"!) here is interesting. I agree with so much of what is being said, disagree with some things. I am getting older and have reasonable experience of the world having worked overseas and lived in many countries all my life. 

 

I do believe that many of the developed nations are on a slow downward slide and will continue to slide. Why do I think this? I worked in many of the developing nations and saw that the youth in those nations, when given a chance to gain an education, do so. And most do so with  a determination that often inspired me. They knew it was their only chance to carve something out of their good fortune.

 

But I could not help noticing that the developed nation kids (this was in quality private schools) generally worked less hard. I always gained the impression that they thought the lifestyle they were living was a given, a birthright, for them and that it would somehow continue for ever, even after their parents (who were, after all, the provider of said lifestyle) were no longer around.

 

I see this attitude in so many adults in developed nations too. Many have good lives and they too canĀ“t see it ending. As has been said Unions can be stupid and push their luck. It seems they often fail to see the world as it is where, as has been said here, larger companies can simply fold their tents and seek pastures new, or in this case, less expensive. And they do so quite ruthlessly. That is business in the modern world. These companies worked in China (many still do), then Asia in general always seeking cheaper production costs. I think many African states will be the next boom area. For a while.

 

And ultimately it may be what were once developed nations will have lost so much industry that they might be next in line to work for peanuts, and be happy to do so, as the Africans will soon. Because for them peanuts is big money....

 

I am afraid that so many living in developed nations now need to take a hard look at themselves and their situation. And see that they must do all they can to regain a competitive edge by accepting that they will need better education for their kids (engineering instead of social studies for example), will need to work harder, for longer and possibly for less pay too.  

 

That is the sad truth as I see it. I hope I am wrong. I am sure many will think I am!



#14 Mallory Dan

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 09:51

I regret I agree with much of that Dipster. Though once this awful virus is done, I suspect many things we've taken for granted over the past 40+ years will alter drastically. One thing for certain, taxes and deficits are going to be much higher than after 2009. 



#15 BRG

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 13:18

If we had the Internet at the time, we would have been reading much of the same stuff about the demise of the British-owned car industry, as BLMC/ARG imploded.  Bolshy unions, diaffected workers, incompetent managers and meddling politicians all helped to destroy it.