Garth and John Madill hand over the keys to Noosa Shire Lifeguards services manager Scott Braby. Garth and John are big believers in the Holden brand.
Garth and John Madill hand over the keys to Noosa Shire Lifeguards services manager Scott Braby. Garth and John are big believers in the Holden brand. Geoff Potter

Holden will keep Australian feel

LONGTIME Gympie Holden car dealer Garth Madill is disappointed at General Motors' decision to cease manufacturing in Australia but concedes it is a sign of the times.

General Motors announced in a press statement last Wednesday the company would cease manufacturing in Australia by 2017.

The announcement included plans to discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing and significantly reduce engineering operations in Australia by the end of 2017.

Mr Madill said while disappointed the manufacture of iconic Holden cars would cease in Australia, regrettably impacting thousands of jobs, the Holden brand would remain an iconic part of the nation's motoring landscape.

"It's disappointing but a sign of the times," he said. "There are many factors involved."

Mr Madill pointed to a high Australian dollar which, since 2001, has risen from 50 US cents to as high as US$1.10.

Equally, the Australian dollar has surged from as low as 47 on the Trade Weighted Index to 79.

Mr Madill's remarks on the Australian dollar were repeated by GM in its statement, saying the automotive industry was heavily trade exposed and the dollar at its peak made things in Australia 65% more expensive compared to just a decade earlier.

A high Australian dollar is just one of many factors crippling Holden's success in Australia. Cheap labour accessible overseas for foreign models has left Holden at a distinct disadvantage.

"There's a big difference in wages overseas and in Australia and we also have to compete with countries subsidising the industry," Mr Madill said.

The car dealer said he accepted the decision but wanted to make it clear Holden would continue to exist in Australia.

"We're still designing and the cars to come will have an Australian influence," Mr Madill said.