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People trusted Holden

By 2353NM

In the 1970s and 1980s the slogan was ‘People trust Holden’; and they did. General Motors Holden had spent a lot of time and money over many years marketing Holden vehicles as Australia’s own car and as a result Holden sales were going gangbusters.

While a considerable amount of design, engineering and manufacturing was done here for a long time, it was always General Motors Head Office in Detroit, Michigan that called the shots. The message we got from General Motors in 2013 when they announced they would shut Australian vehicle manufacturing down in 2017 was that Holden was nothing more than a General Motors business unit where return on investment was the key requirement. Admittedly, the Abbott/Hockey 2014 budget didn’t help.

The cars produced across Australia were commodities, as were the staff who did their best to provide a product they were proud of, as were the people in the distribution network and the consumers who bought a Holden. We were reminded how ‘Australian’ Holden was during February this year when GM announced that they would no longer sell Holden badged vehicles (imported from manufacturing plants around the world like lots of other commodities) anywhere as they were concentrating on their ‘home‘ (read USA) market and China.

Those that manage GM believe like all commodities, the Holden vehicles on the road today will outlive their usefulness and be disposed of. Some will mourn the passing, some (inside and outside Australia) will retain and treasure an example of Holden engineering and production, others will gradually forget the commodity ever existed and from General Motors viewpoint, once all the statutory obligations are addressed (to the letter of the law at least), the world will move on.

So much for trust. Trust is a mutual relationship where both sides have an implicit belief that everyone is looking after the interests of all parties to the agreement. Arguably, Holden did deserve our trust in the 1970s and 80s as for the majority of that time they were producing well designed and safe (by the standards and technology of the day) vehicles in Australia and selling them domestically and internationally.

GM aren’t the only body to have forgotten people aren’t commodities. It’s not hard to make the argument the Coalition Government came to power on a promise of trust in 2013 and have been breaking that promise ever since — by treating us all as commodities.

While the current A(bbott), T(urnbull) , M(orrison) Coalition government is not the first in Australia’s history to leverage income support for those that need it for political ends, the use and often threatened widening of the compulsory use of the system that requires 80% of income support to be placed onto a debit card is a new depth in the persecution of those that for some reason have the need for help — not belittlement. It is a scandal that parents cannot pay for school excursions, uniforms and the like with the card because the schools are not ‘approved’ by Indue ,the contractor that manages the ‘Cashless Welfare’ debit card for the ATM Government.

Indue cards can’t be used at cash machines as converting the balance on the card to cash is against the rules and if the communications or EFTPOS systems go down you can’t buy anything either. The stigma is real and ongoing and the whole process seems to be designed in a manner to dehumanise people and treat them as a (unwelcome) commodity. However Indue is certainly cashing in on the system. Reports in 2017 claimed the card system costs the government about $18.9 Million during the trial phase in a few locations, or around $10,000 per card issued, with no evidence to suggest there is any benefit or subsequent cost reduction as the card gets rolled out elsewhere. If it cost the banks that much to issue a debit card we’d all still be filling out withdrawal forms for our passbook accounts and hoping to get to the bank before it closed for the weekend.

Until Australia was affected by COVID-19, the Australian unemployment rate has been bouncing around 5% for quite some time. Some ‘unemployment’ is inevitable, for example on the day of the survey some will have left their previous job and not started their new job, school leavers or new arrivals in the country have yet to find work or companies like GM have determined that a number of employees are no longer required given the strategy worked out in the boardroom usually in some place far removed from the ‘factory floor’.

While ‘assistance’ to find other employment will probably be given by GM as an act of appeasement to public relations, a lot of the soon to be ex-Holden employees would be fearful of under-employment. According to the Government, if you are working at least one hour a week you are considered to be employed and while that is probably correct in a literal sense, the rate of pay would have to be considerable to ensure those employees working one hour a week could live comfortably on their income. The University of New South Wales noted the underemployment — usually those employed casually and for various reasons needing more hours — to be at 8.1% prior to the last Federal Budget — discussing why there needs to be some attention paid to the issue by the ATM Government. Of course there wasn’t, commodities are there to do the bidding of corporations and then thrown on the scrap heap.

As further evidence of the ATM Government treating people as commodities, while the companies such as Paladin who have contracts supplying the ‘guards’ and ‘support staff’ at the ‘detention centres’ are raking in millions while treatment of refugee seekers over the past decade who have been sent to detention centres offshore is nothing short of abysmal. Also consider the underfunding (and even greater underdelivery) of the NDIS, or the second rate NBN delivered by those who should have known better. Minster responsible at the time, Malcolm Turnbull was one of the founding directors [his merchant bank held a 25% share] when Ozemail (one of the first hugely successful ISPs in Australia) was floated on stock exchanges in 1996, and clearly demonstrated little regard for those that have no alternative to NBN technology.

The pre-COVID-19 and (currently) post September 2020 Newstart/JobSeeker payment (the income support for the unemployed or underemployed) is described by the Business Council as one of the elements of ‘entrenched disadvantage’, rather than allowing those who rely on the support payment to live with some dignity, the ATM Government chooses to spend taxpayer money on Community Development Grants that according to The New Daily is a scandal far bigger than ‘sportsrorts’, propping up environmentally damaging industries, and only attacking the Victorian and Queensland (ALP) state premiers that choose to listen to the advice of their health officials, despite the Liberal premiers of Tasmania and South Australia making similar decisions.

Unforgivably and worse than the examples above, when a $60 BILLION error is made in the forecasting of the need for the COVID-19 specific JobKeeper payment, rather than extending the blanket of care and concern to those that were left in the cold the first time around (those in employment for under 12 months, university and local government staff, workers on most visa arrangements, arts workers to name just a few), Morrison and Frydenberg’s initial reaction is to claim that they don’t intend to make ‘massive changes’ to the temporary assistance measure.

Just as people trusted Holden in the 1970s and 1980s and eventually saw the reality of a foreign multinational that really didn’t deserve the trust, Australians have demonstrated time and time again in the past few weeks that they understand and respect those that treat them as individuals such as the national and state medical officers in their COVID-19 briefings. We acknowledged a lot of them this time last week. However, once the world stops talking about COVID-19 (which will inevitably happen), the ATM government will expect us all to be back in the salt mines making money for the entitled few like good economic units always do. Which is exactly what conservative governments have always done.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. OldWomBat

    The “numberfication / commoditization” of people began a long time ago when Personnel Departments became Human Resource Departments that placed people on a par with a pencil – to be used until broken or not required.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Western type governments, usually with an elected parliament or congress system, have become effectively the dummy front public service offices and bureaus for corporate nagging, haggling, lobbying, order giving, rule and regulation rigging, submissive and staffed by the greasy pole climbers of no ethics or morals, but insistent ambitious greedy personalities (deficient but effective) Corporations now rule as viziers, court stewards, throne controllers, praetorian guards, svengalis, stalinistas, himmlerites, cheneyanuses, murdochmaggoteers. Few politicians, journalists, public service chiefs are actually able to function sensibly, in a detached and honest way, even if it is their wish. This is a filthy age of deception, subterfuge, dishonesty, hidden agendas, dogma and demanded loyalty. So it is the new normal to have loudmouth defectives, shitskulled fronts, turds in ties, suited up sausage polishers and of course, low level nematodes like B Joyce. Australia still remains a good idea, a lovely pre-old-people’s-home, a repairable land, a nice dream. But, people came, especially the post-1788 lot and started to stuff it thoroughly by deep insolence and applied stupidity, a delicate land much abused. Now for a country party sponsored dinner of cane toad and rabbit stew, with no water and sand for pepper. Should be imperiously good.

  3. Gangey1959

    I was looking at one of my payslips the other day.
    I had earned $340ish for my 8 hours of labour on the forklift one sunday, but had been paid NO super. This was the only day in the calendar month that I had worked.
    “Apparently”, superannuation does not have to be paid for overtime, nor does it have to be paid if a worker has earned less than $450 in a month.
    Maybe this should be a measure of employment / unemployment. If a worker has earned no superannuation in a month, they shall be considered to be UNemployed.
    One hour per week.
    Kiss my arse. (It’s usually unemployed)

  4. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. did somebody mention that Toxic RAbbott killed off the Australian automobile assembly industry for ideological reasons at a huge cost of about 200,000 supply chain manufacturing jobs, enormous cost of unemployment benefits and huge loss of taxation revenue??

    The Australian Honours Commission or whatever it is called, gave RAbbott an AO for this “achievements”. NO wonder AUstrali is going backwards with the COALition LIarbral Nazional$ misgovernment on the Treasury benches.

  5. andy56

    As i see it, by their own standards they will be judged. They made so much capital out of labor’s debt and deficit, one only needs to present current figures to put a massive hole in that lie.
    Just read the government has a 5 year plan for economic growth. Kiss my arse. What the fook were they doing the last 7yrs? Supercharge growth is the new slogan. Cutting expenditure to just essential. They really are the party of frauds. Back to the future and back to newstarve for a lot of people. I cant see how big infrastructure spend can just be rolled out and soak up all those tourist workers. Or UNI workers for that matter. They created a $26b black hole where china used to plonk their money. I bet china will keep putting the pressure on. So as fast as our government spends, it cant even keep up with what we are losing. Neoliberalism cant dig itself out of this hole, but you watch as the neanderthals try putting a square peg on all sides of the car.
    Take away their ideology, and they would be found wanting and less than useless in so many areas. Economics being an art rather than science needs people who can plan rather rthan rely on principles that have been shown to to be immoral and stupid.

  6. Bronte ALLAN

    Sadly the rabbott did not know or understand or even care that in every motor manufacturing country in the world, including Germany & Japan, the governments concerned allot “payments” or subidies to them? No, he just went ahead in his usual dickheaded way & closed our motoring manufacturing facilities, because “he did not think it was needed or necessary”, for some sort of government financial assistance to the motor manufacturing sector. Now as a country we no longer manufacture motor vehicles, nor do we make all the goods we now get from China, when we use to make almost all of it here in Australia! Probably too bloody late to try to resume making our own products here, but if enough money was spent by all these–once Australian made–manufacturers here in OZ (are there even any left?) maybe we could start to remake these items here again, probably be at a higher price, but at least we would possibly get better made & more reliable stuff than what we get from China? Just a thought!

  7. Jack Cade

    I remember when GMH closed their plant at Cheltenham/Woodville in SA. One of the TV stations parked a reporter outside the plant on the last evening, and was asking workers what they thought went wrong. One man waved his hand toward the employees car park abc and said ‘Have a look at the car park. There are hardly any GMH vehicles there. We make them but we don’t buy them.
    I often enjoy saying that Joe Hockey told GMH to bugger off, but I know ‘The General’ was itching to leave anyway. The Coalition just allowed GMH to say they were thinking of staying.

  8. Terry Riordan

    The Australian automotive manufacturing industry was killed by Abbot and Hockey for one reason only. That is that the industry was highly unionised and thus provided funds to the ALP.
    The height of political bastardisation and bugger the country and its citizens who relied on this industry for secure well paid jobs

  9. Phil Pryor

    Again, General motors never tried to make the best cars, for philosophical reasons, but did make good enough cars to sell profitably, until the greedite maggots came in, the career boys of corporate cancerous calculation, who wanted share price bursts, bonuses, fringe benefits, ever greater money for eff all. Make shit and have stinky hands.., for the Japanese, almost uniquely, made good cars to be just that, and so, make money from honesty, reliability, durability. Last year, Toyota and Honda were one and two in world reliability among the many great car manufaturers. Mercedes were fourteenth, overpriced, underdone, sublowundercrookrubbishforthe money. One blogger (tonight’s search on USA sites) said “his father, a retired GM worker, drove a Toyota and all his many old retiree friends drove Toyota or Honda.” So, Jack Cade, you had it down correctly for Australia. Chrysler Fiat were off the bottom of the page…

  10. wam

    I have a storm from the last batch made. At nearly 80 this is my second new car my first was an assembled at gmh a vauxhall viva..
    When I started high school we shifted into a trust home, possibly asbestos The nearest high school was woodville high and I caught the train every day and it never stopped at the special holdens station, next to the osborne power station(no power)
    My mate left school at 15 to work at angliss meats and had his first new holden at 17 and a new one every couple of years under a lease arrangement . When he went out on his own he bought a lancer. Leaving me the last of the holdens.
    Jack is right I have long been writing to pollies to buy australian made but quality asian and european cars are cheaper without tariffs and ‘finer’ so pollies make us pay for their comfort and prestige both minimal but why should they care we pay.. Didn’t the profits go overseas? They ignored the wages spent here and the pricks still do.

  11. Jack Cade

    All Australian governments – Federal, State and local government, plus all public services, should have been duty-bound to buy Australian-made cars. But at the same time, the manufacturers should have made cars so good that nobody would think of buying others anyway. But the old saw of ‘Australian-made for Australian conditions’ was bullshit and recognised as such by the lumpen proletariat.

  12. Angela stokeld

    It is about time people realised how stupid it is to form any relationship with USA because it is always geared to their best interest

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