On budget

Holden Kingswood

1969 HT Kingswood

Regular readers of this column know that I always do my best to steer clear of politics.

After all this is the “motoring column” and I’m not Andrew Bolt.

But it’s been difficult since the Federal Budget to think about anything else and in particular its impact on those that I regard as vulnerable and less fortunate.

Whilst there are undoubtedly those that will be better off after Joe Hockey’s song and dance I dare not mention their names for fear of being barraged with mail from medical researchers and pregnant company executives.

But I did want to spare a thought for university students, unemployed youth, pensioners, families, the poor, the sick, asylum seekers and any Australian born after 1965.

When university students staged an overly long protest on Q&A recently Federal Education Minister and Leader of the House Christopher Pyne remained remarkably calm and tight-lipped when he responded by asking the audience to “wait and see” what was in the Budget.

As if he didn’t already know?

At the other end of life we can now expect to officially have the world’s oldest retirement age at 70 whilst those workers from Pakistan, India, China, Russia and Ukraine down tools at 60.

Even John Howard retired at 58 which is also the retirement age in Nepal.

Coming from Queensland it’s not surprising that none of these cutbacks were mentioned in the lead-up to the last election and we should all just accept that none of this would be happening if it wasn’t for that nasty right-wing Commission of Audit.

Whilst there have been accusations of broken election promises, I’d simply see what’s happening as prevarication.

Not that we should expect anything else, they are politicians after all.

But for me the lowest point of all in the recent debate was when our Federal Health Minister and member for Dickson the Honourable Peter Craig Dutton MP likened Medicare to a Holden Kingswood in a speech last month.

My aversion to Mr Dutton started in 2001 when he won the seat of Dickson from The Honourable Ms Cheryl Kernot.

Just like Gareth Evans I loved Ms Kernot very much especially for her ability to work with political opponents for the good of the people.

But is Peter Dutton being un-Australian by taking a swipe at our national icon (the Holden Kingswood)?

And Mr Dutton will need to watch his words with the Motoring Enthusiast Party having such a strong position in the Senate.

I’d dare say that the Holden Kingswood and Medicare have nothing in common.

For starters the Kingswood was an affordable and popular vehicle targeted at meeting the needs of Australian families.

Replacing a long line of Holden Specials the first HK Kingswood rolled off the production line in 1968 when John Gorton was PM.

The HK carried over the 186 cubic inch motor from the much-loved HR Holden, but for the first time in Holden’s history you could order a Kingswood with a Chevrolet 307 cubic inch (5.0 litre) V8.

It wasn’t until the next HT model that automatic transmissions came with three speeds (Tri-Matic).

Up till then autos only had a two speed Powerglide transmission, but the three speeder was prone to failure and came to be known as the Traumatic.

The HG had only minor cosmetic changes until the all-new HQ which had two new sixes (173 and 202) and a choice of three V8’s (253, 308 and 350).

The HQ had coil springs on the rear, but handling was limited by cross-ply tyres.

The HJ went metric with the engine displacements becoming 2.85, 3.3, 4.2, 5.0 and 5.7 litres.

In 1975 Gough Whitlam gave Australia Medibank and Holden gave us the Kingswood Vacationer which had radial tyres, carpets and a radio.

Emission controls saw the HX drop the 2.85 litre six, but handling didn’t receive attention until the very popular HZ with its radial tuned suspension.

Anyone who has read this far will agree that (unlike the Federal Government and Medicare) Holden made incremental changes to the Kingswood culminating in a vehicle that is still much loved.

Perhaps the only way I can excuse Mr Dutton for his comments about the Kingswood is to note that he wasn’t even born when it was released and he was only 10 years old when production ceased in 1980.

Holden Kingswood HK HT HG HQ HJ HX HZ (1968 – 1980)

For: Spawned its own TV series (Kingswood Country)

Against: Large cars didn’t need to be as large as families became smaller.

This car would suit: Anyone who doesn’t believe that the age of entitlement is over.

PS In the sit-com Kingswood Country Ted Bullpit would constantly ask, “Where’s the bloody Kingswood” and prophetically said, “No wonder the country’s in a mess!”

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.