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Truss confirms Holden's departure

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss confirms during question time on Wednesday that Holden will stop making cars in Australia from 2017.

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Within minutes of General Motors-Holden announcing the carmaker would leave Australia in 2017, the political blame game began in question time.

Government ministers, led by Treasurer Joe Hockey and Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss, indicated that Holden's decision was inevitable and known for some time. They cited high wages, the relentlessly high Australian dollar and difficult economic circumstances, as reasons for Holden's departure.

Jenny Macklin, Tony Burke and Chris Bowen during question time in Parliament.

Labor frontbenchers Jenny Macklin, Tony Burke and Chris Bowen during question time in Parliament. Photo: Andrew Meares

Labor ministers, meanwhile, were booing and jeering and accusing the Coalition of hurrying Holden out of Australia and treating the company with contempt.

"You've got what you wanted!" shouted the Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek across the dispatch box.

Mr Truss rejected Labor's suggestion that the government was to blame, saying he had been advised that government action had little to do with the carmaker's decision.

An FJ Holden poster.  Picture courtesy of the National Museum of Australia Click for more photos

A History of Holden in Australia

An FJ Holden poster. Picture courtesy of the National Museum of Australia

"It's self-evident to us all that wages paid in Australia are much higher than wages in other parts of the world," Mr Truss said.

"[The] reality we must face is the situation as it is now and get on with helping the Holden workers to make a transition and the economy of SA to move into new areas where it can prosper and provide work for its people."

But Ms Plibersek accused the government of getting "exactly what it wanted" and bullying Holden out of Australia.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne pretends to cry during a point of order during question time.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne pretends to cry during a point of order during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Ms Plibersek referred to the letter sent by Mr Truss on Tuesday to Mr Devereux, in which the Acting Prime Minister urged Holden to "immediately" clarify its intentions.

The letter was "designed for political consumption rather than being a genuine effort to communicate," Ms Plibersek said.

"Hasn't the government got exactly what it wanted and won't Australia's workers pay for their failure?" she added.

Mr Hockey said the government would do what it could to work with unions and the governments of South Australia and Victoria to help the workers "transition" and prepare for losing their jobs when Holden leaves Australia in 2017.

Mr Hockey said it was "no surprise" that Holden was leaving and wondered why Labor had not shown similar outrage when Mitsubishi and Ford left Australia.

Labor asked the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane why the Abbott government cut $500 million from automotive funding, and asked whether there was any concern for job losses.

Mr Macfarlane said Labor MPs had immediately degenerated to "raw politics" when Holden factory workers were going through an "extraordinarily traumatic time".

"Not one word of sympathy from the members opposite," Mr Macfarlane said. "Not one word of, 'We'll co-operate with what the government puts in place to ensure the industry and economic diversity of Adelaide is continued.' "