Mr ENTSCH: The name Holden conjures up many memories for millions of Australians.
It is a part of life for so many of us. It is a brand that has firmly entrenched itself in Australian culture, and has been a way of life for almost a century.
Holden dominated the Australian car market for many years and produced motor vehicles that are still classics to this day.
Who could forget the late Peter Brock’s association with Holden that spanned more than four decades?
The legendary racer made his debut in Bathurst in 1969 in a Holden HT Monaro GTS 350, and would go on to tame the mountain nine times over his career and write himself into Holden and Australian folklore.
I’m sure there are many in this House that have their own fond memories of Holden motor vehicles, myself included; however, more recently, Holden has fallen on tough times for a variety of reasons.
I want to acknowledge the long-term business investment General Motors has made in Australia for close to 90 years, but recent decisions, in my view, have absolutely trashed that reputation.
Sadly, in 2017 General Motors-Holden ceased vehicle and engine production in Australia, a true end of an era.
At the time the company committed to retaining 1,000 direct staff, plus 6,000 people across its national dealer network; however, fast-forward to less than three years later, General Motors-Holden have now decided to withdraw their vehicle sales completely from the Australian market.
This will have a devastating impact on more than 200 Holden dealerships across Australia, including in my electorate, and put in jeopardy thousands of jobs at a time when every job is an essential job.
One of those dealerships that will be affected by General Motors’ decision is Ireland’s of Cairns.
I want to take the opportunity to put a name and a story on the record, because Ireland’s of Cairns is more than just a number on somebody’s spreadsheet.
Ireland’s of Cairns principal, Richard Ireland, who, I might add, was recently awarded a well-deserved OAM, is the public face of what can only be described as a Cairns institution.
Establishing the business in 1923, the Ireland name is well known for great service and quality automotive products in our region.
It is a family owned business that has been in Cairns for six generations, with Richard being the third-generation motor dealer.
The Ireland’s involvement in our community is more than just a dealership on Mulgrave Road.
They’ve invested heavily and passionately in the community they call home.
The Ireland family helped set up and continue to support the Cairns Taipans NBL basketball team and many other local sporting clubs.
They’ve supported the not-for-profit groups of Rotary, Red Cross, Far North Queensland Youth Assistance Fund, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Advance Cairns, Cairns Choral Society, Cairns Art Society, the Cairns Art Gallery, James Cook University and many, many others.
They regularly engage with local high schools via work experience, and have attended countless career days to share their extensive knowledge of the automotive industry.
They’ve also given many Cairns youngsters their first chance through apprenticeships, something they should be extremely proud of.
You can see that Ireland’s of Cairns are more than simply just a car dealership on Mulgrave Road; they are a critical part of our amazing community.
I am sure other Holden dealerships in countless other communities across the nation will have the same stories.
Ireland’s of Cairns have given so much to our community, and it’s so important for me, as a community representative, to stand up and fight for them.
GM was forced into mediation only yesterday, and it was absolutely appalling.
They were dragged, kicking and screaming, trying to abrogate themselves from any responsibility.
Australian Holden dealers have bravely supported General Motors’ own brands for almost 90 years, so for GM to effectively terminate their agreement 2½ years early without satisfactory compensation and exit the country, like a mongrel dog, in the midst of a pandemic, when livelihoods are already under immense pressure, is appalling behaviour and inconsistent with the ethical practices that General Motors are supposedly espousing.
General Motors will have a mother of a fight on their hands if they think for one minute that they can simply pack up and leave the people who have invested so much over so many years high and dry.