Three years after ending local manufacturing, General Motors says it is killing off the Holden badge altogether by the end of the year, at a cost of 600 jobs.

GM President Mark Reuss said the company tried to keep the Holden brand alive, but was thwarted by the costs of dealing with the "highly fragmented right-hand-drive market".  Instead, the US auto giant will focus on the North American, Latin American, South Korean, and Chinese markets.

But even though Holden interim boss Kristian Aquilina said the company had "chased down every conceivable option" to keep the brand afloat, and those losing their jobs would be offered a "separation package", the unions and the federal government are pretty annoyed they were not consulted first.

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews complained, "To make an announcement of such significance, I think it would have shown a considerable amount of goodwill, as well as decency in picking up the phone and talking to Government beforehand."

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) automotive and transport coordinator Dave Smith was similarly caught off-guard, but says this could have been avoided.

"[Holden] could have stayed in Australia if it had Government support," Mr. Smith said.  

But rather than focus on the past, the Union is upset that no warning was given to the 600 who will lose their jobs.

"There's really been no talk of this and no notice that this might be on the cards," said the Union official.  "And when I spoke to a company representative that rang me today, I very much got the impression it was a surprise for local management as well."