For non-Australian readers, Holden
is was the brand name for General Motors in Australia and New Zealand, just like Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Europe.
And, just like all the other brand names, the build quality of the vehicles was woeful. By which I mean, when compared to the overseas competitors’ products, the vehicles were like British Leyland’s Austin Allegro compared to the Toyota Corolla of the time; expensive, fewer features, less reliable, lower prestige.
Given the choice between a German, Japanese, Korean or even a French or Italian car, nobody with the mental age above a fish would choose to buy a Holden. Those few who did, did so out of some bizarre patriotic pride…. bizarre, because what’s the point of being proud of a shite product built by a foreign company?
Of course, this axiom played out over the decades in the Australian car market while market share declined annually as consumers bought every other vehicle brand rather than those locally-produced.
Politicians being, by their nature and the system within which they operate, incentivised only in the short term, pumped ever greater sums of taxpayers’ money into subsidising a company those same taxpayers (as consumers) were voting against.
Both sides of the political spectrum were guilty of this pointless profligacy, citing various fallacious arguments to justify their buying of votes with other people’s money; “saving Aussie jobs”, “ensuring the survival of adjacent industries”, etc.
Perhaps the most laughable reason was “strategic nationally”, by which people meant, “if China or Indonesia ever decide to invade, we can repurpose the Holden factories to make tanks in time to mount a credible defence”.
Yeah, just as long as the tank drivers had been trained in how to replace a faulty gear box ten minutes after driving out of the barracks.
Holden lingered on in stasis for at least 25 years longer than it should have been allowed. Every taxpayer dollar pumped into the balance sheet of General Motors or added on to the import cost of a foreign competitor, delayed the inevitable and cost Australians twice; once in tax and again in increased prices for a better quality Mitsubishi or Toyota.
Given a choice, politicians always do what’s expedient rather than what’s right.