Tim O'Brien | Apr 15, 2009

Hmmm. Looks like ‘expert’ and self-promoter, Clive Matthew-Wilson has dropped a nest of vipers into his own Y-fronts with his media release speculating on the futures of Holden, Ford and Toyota in Australia.

Holden, he says, will be first to close. Soon… (at least I think that’s what he’s intimating).

Now Clive the hyphen, who may be a household name in his… er, own house, is not exactly widely known for his sage views on much about the world.

But that hasn’t stopped him from shouting those views from the battlements. And why not, it’s a free country.

The simple fact, however, is that with this recent press release, he has brought nothing new to the commentary – no facts, no sustainable supporting argument, nothing referenced, no comments from within the automakers impaled upon his pen – nothing other than a bald statement expressing his view.

And the expert he quotes, is, yes, himself. “Matthew-Wilson believes Holden will be the first to go, followed by Ford and then Toyota.” Says who? Says Matthew-Wilson.

Without facts, it is just a view. Like the one you might have, and like the one I might have.

So, what’s going on here with Clive the hyphen? You have to suspect the ‘media release’ in question is designed primarily to be a nuisance, and to put Clive the hyphen himself in the news (and whatever it is he wants to promote) rather than to add constructively to discussion.

Because it is only the nuisance value of his comments, and the damage they can do, that has elevated them to the front pages.

His statement, which is loaded in the same way as the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" leaves Holden with no room to move other than to deny.

Everyone knows Holden has a battle on its hands. So too Ford, and so too Toyota. We have commented as much.

There are few carmakers on the planet without serious problems in the face of the worst global recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. That’s what happens when sales take a high dive through the s-bend.

And yes, there are challenges here, but our market, and our local carmakers, continue to hold up better than nearly every developed market overseas.

As we commented in our April VFACTS summary of March ’09 sales compared to March ’08: “… despite the overall Australian new car market having fallen by 19.2 percent compared to March sales 2008, sales of the two most popular locally-built large cars are doing okay.

“Down, but definitely not out.

“Compared to March 2008 sales figures, the Falcon and Commodore were down 14.3 percent and 11.1 percent respectively - bettering the performance of the market by a reasonable margin.”

So, yes, challenges there, and good reason to promote balanced discussion and commentary on the status of our automotive sector, on its future, and what we might reasonably be doing as a community to support it.

But no basis for Clive the hyphen’s action in putting his views out as a media release.

Just supreme arrogance and supreme disinterest for the future and well-being of Holden and its thousands of employees.

What will it be tomorrow Clive? Expert predicts Virgin Blue to close down? Melbourne Football Club to collapse? BHP to relocate to Chile?

You can have your views, but they don’t form the basis of a press release. Speculation of this type isn’t news, it’s vandalism.

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