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State & fed govt blameless in Holden exit: Marshall

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Holden’s decision to quit car manufacturing in Elizabeth was inevitable and no government should take the blame for it, Opposition leader Steven Marshall said this morning.

Marshall told Radio Adelaide manufacturing cars in Australia “just doesn’t make as much sense for this country”.

“So quite frankly I don’t see … that it’s useful to play this blame game,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s the State Government’s fault, the Federal Government’s fault, I don’t think it’s the workers’ fault, I don’t think it’s (Holden boss) Mike Devereux’s fault, I don’t think it’s the union’s fault.

“I think quite frankly it’s just a reality – that manufacturing 80,000 vehicles a year in a relatively high-cost country with very fragmented local markets just doesn’t make as much sense for this country as some of (Holden’s) plants in South East Asia and China.”

Marshall said he wasn’t sure how the Holden issue would play in the electorate at the March state election, but finding a replacement to fill the company’s major contribution to the state’s economy would likely be a key to both parties’ election strategies.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I think the big election issue is really what is the economic plan of the two major parties to fill the gap that is quite obviously going to be created.

“It is going to be a real body blow for our State. There’s been a lot of discussion about the flow-on benefits of the auto industry and I accept them all – it’s got a massive flow on benefit, it’s also got a massive technology transfer.

“We would argue that South Australia hasn’t developed a resilient, diversified economy and that’s why there’s just so much focus on Holden.”

He said if a deal could have been done on industry assistance to save the Detroit-headquartered manufacturer, the Federal Coalition Government would have done it.

“I think that quite frankly I think if there was a deal to be done the Coalition would have done it.  Everybody in the Coalition appreciates how important this sector is.

“Obviously there’s a lot of political posturing, that’s the nature of the game if you like. In reality, this was the decision made by a global company, it was part of a suite of announcements.”

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