Watch Matt's speech here
Local car dealers and their employees have borne the brunt of the General Motors decision to kill off the Holden brand in Australia. Many of these dealers are small businesses that had to invest significant capital in order to buy into the renowned and iconic Holden brand. These car dealers, of whom there are about 200 across the country, are typically required to purchase millions of dollars of vehicle inventory, special tools and equipment parts, not to mention the massive outlay to invest so as to spec showrooms in order to show off their vehicles. Usually, they've invested in long-term leases and are almost always required to maintain these to the car-brand specifications, which can change from year to year.
Our national franchising laws are currently incapable of securing any true justice for these Holden dealers, as they have been at the mercy of General Motors. Part of the work I did in the last parliament as a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services was to look at how the power imbalance between car manufacturers and dealers could be better balanced. The government must act on that committee's recommendations, though it's too late now for the Holden dealers.
When General Motors announced the end of Holden manufacturing in Australia, it gave assurances to Holden dealers and drivers. When General Motors announced that it was withdrawing from Australia, it gave dealers and drivers assurances again. The over 200 Holden dealers and 1.6 million Holden drivers were relying on the Holden brand and reputation, that they would continue to be looked after properly. It is now up to General Motors to ensure that its package to support dealers is appropriate. But we certainly haven't seen that from them yet. We must stand up for the Holden dealers, who have poured their hearts and souls into this iconic Australian brand, their businesses, employees and customers.
The Liberal government has been talking up manufacturing while presiding over its decline. After all, they are the ones that goaded Ford and Holden to leave our shores. While Australians want more domestic manufacturing and self-reliance, the Morrison government is found wanting. The genesis of Holden shutting up shop and now abandoning dealers and drivers was this Liberal government. The Prime Minister's told Australians that a Labor government would take away tradies' utes—but it turns out that it's the Morrison Liberal government that is presiding over this.
This year, though understandably, they stopped football too. Suddenly, the fate of meat pies and kangaroos seems threatened under this government. Car dealers across the nation deserve a better go under this government. Over 200 Holden dealers, employing over 9,000 people, deserve to be properly compensated by General Motors. The 1.6 million Holden drivers of Australia deserve certainty for the servicing and parts of their cars. The government must ensure that this actually happens. They started this and they are responsible for the consequences.