Jingoism, spin and Holden cars


In a piece of silly scare mongering, the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers is suggesting that the ‘post 2014’ Commodore could be designed and engineered overseas (even if it is still build in Australia).

Oh no! Not our Aussie Icon, the Commodore. That would be like having a Dane design the Sydney Opera House or having the Sydney Harbour Bridge designed and built by an English firm.

But you have to admire the Holden response. On the ABC’s The world today program, Holden MD Mike Devereux managed to turn the interview on its head and get five minutes of unalloyed lobbying for industry protection for the Australian car industry. It was rent-seeking spin at its best. The interview should be up soon on the ABC website (as I write only the first part is up – pre Devereux).

So to the engineers – on your logic Aussie engineers should not be designing any ‘off shore icons’. Damn – there goes all that work in Asia and suddenly makes a lot of Australian engineers unemployed.

And to Minister Carr – as a taxpayer, can I politely disagree with Mr Devereux. I do not want big taxpayer subsidies going to GM Holden. Just because other countries have industry policies that line the pockets of foreign car makers, I do not think we should blindly follow. If GM can economically make cars in Australia without dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket, great. If not, then there are many alternatives that we can import.

6 Responses to "Jingoism, spin and Holden cars"
  1. Every Commodore up until 2006 was based on an Opel (GM Europe) design.  The VL Commodore of the mid-90s had an (excellent) Nissan six in it.  Subsequent Commodores have had one of GM’s global engine designs in them, and the engine blocks are cast overseas and assembled here.
    Of course, the original FX Holden was a rejected pre-war Chevrolet design. 

  2. My memory is fading, but wasn’t it the Button plan under the Hawke Govt which attempted to rationalise the car industry in Australia?  What was learnt from that?

    I suspect if it were not for that we may have lost our car industry altogether.

    Anyway, what is wrong with foriegn designed cars? I am not going to even start on examples.  I drive a car that was designed by Boeing engineers, and it is great, albeit a bit quirky.

    I advocate less protection, or even no protection..  But I would be prudent in my choice of overseas engineers.  It may turn out to be false economy as I reckon that Telstra has done with its outsourcing to India.

  3. Like most cars these days, the Commodore and its associated “platform” were engineered to global company and regulatory standards for sale and manufacture around the world.
    If the successor to the Commodore is designed overseas, it will, similarly, be designed to global standards. 

  4. Too late regarding the issue of subsidies – the Oz car industry comes under the Australian Competitiveness and Investment Scheme (ACIS). From what I remember of my time in the car industry every company participating gets a fixed percentage or fixed amount (?) paid for every man-hour of effort. At least that was the case for engineering design and operations.

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