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Government steps in to protect Holden heritage collection from GM

The Australian Government says it has clarified with GM that Holden’s historic collection will stay in Australia, citing legal means to do so and ensuring Australians that GM is not “secretly moving stuff offshore.”

As GM departs Australia after announcing it will close Holden and axe a significant proportion of the 800 staff currently employed by the lion brand, questions have been asked as to what will happen to Holden’s large collection of historic vehicles.

While sources at Holden have said that it expects the collection of cars such as the first and last cars the company produced and the striking Efijy won’t be shipped off to Detroit, the Australian Government has confirmed that it has already been in discussion with GM.

Citing Australia’s moveable cultural heritage act, minister for communications and the arts, Senator Paul Fletcher told Melbourne radio station 3AW that the collection “could not be exported under the act without the Government’s agreement,’ and that it has been formulating a plan with GM as to the future of the collection, firmly stating that it will stay in Australia.

“There’s a thing called the protection of moveable cultural heritage act, and what that says is that things which are of particular significance culturally and historically in Australia can’t be taken out of Australia without the consent of the minister of the arts for the day,” he said.

“Clearly, Holden has been absolutely central in Australia’s cultural economic history, it has been a very big part of Australia and so the advice I have is that, yes, absolutely many of the items that Holden holds are things that could not be exported under the act without the Government’s agreement.”

Fletcher went on to say that the government was aware of the significance of Holden to Australians and that it has been discussing with GM a plan for the long term future that will keep the pieces in Australia.

“What the Government has said, and the prime minister is very aware of, is the interest of lots of Holden lovers around Australia. We’ve said what we want GM or the company to do is to provide a clear plan about how this significant material is to be preserved and maintained in Australia.”

When asked by radio host Tom Elliot if the minister believed that GM might be planning to pull the wool over its eyes and secretly ship the cars to the US, Fletcher said that the government fully expects compliance from GM.

“To be clear, I’ve had some constructive conversations with them, my department has been in discussions with them and it has been very constructive… I’m advised by the company [GM and] I have no reason to doubt there is no plan for them to be secretly moving stuff offshore, but they certainly recognise the importance of this materials, we’ve had constructive discussions and we intend to work with the company as they come up with a plan as to the long term of the significant items they hold. It might be significant vehicles or other memorabilia,” he said.

Fletcher also commented that some of the cars are currently out of reach of GM as they sit within the national museum.

“A couple of their significant Holdens, such as the first one ever sold commercially, are in the collection of the national museum, and there are a number of other museums and institutions that contain material relevant to Holden.

“I think all of those are questions to be properly asked and so what the government expects is GM will come forward with a plan as to the culturally historic and significant material the company holds, what’s their plan to continue to make that available in Australia.”

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