Toyota bails, car industry now dead across the Tasman, killed by unions

Toyota has finally jacked it in, announcing they are closing their plant in Australia, joining Ford and Holden in halting manufacturing of cars in Australia.

The end of car manufacturing in Australia – confirmed with Toyota’s announcement that it would shut local production in 2017, taking thousands of jobs with it – could tip Victoria and South Australia into recession, industry experts and economists have warned.

The automotive giant’s global boss, Akio Toyoda, travelled to the Altona plant and told 2500 workers their jobs would go in three years. The decision is a massive blow for the Victorian economy in particular, where more than 25,000 jobs are likely to go across the car and automotive components industries. Unions claim 50,000 skilled jobs may be lost nationally. Toyota will follow Ford and Holden out of the country, with all three car makers announcing in the last year that they would cease manufacturing by 2017. All three brands will now import all their vehicles.

Those jobs weren’t real anyway…heavily subsidised, loans, grants and tax breaks for the companies. The unions can hardly complain with the workers heavily unionised and paid far above their actual worth or productivity justified.

That isn’t stopping them from blaming everyone but themselves.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten blamed Toyota’s demise on the Abbott government. ‘‘It’s an unmitigated disaster,’’ he said.

‘‘The car industry has died under the Abbott government. It’s a disgrace.’’  

Mr Shorten said Mr Abbott did ‘‘not give a stuff about jobs in Australia – he is just busy playing political games and stunts’’.

Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane said Toyota’s decision had changed the face of manufacturing in Australia.

He said Toyota had made no requests for financial assistance to the federal government, but had expressed frustration at the company’s inability to make changes to its workplace agreement with employees in a bid to save about $3500 per vehicle.

Former premier Steve Bracks, who chaired a 2008 review of the car industry, said the decision was a tragedy, which could have been ‘‘entirely avoided’’.

He said neither Prime Minister Tony Abbott nor Premier Denis Napthine had ‘‘lifted a finger’’, arguing both men should have gone to Japan to press the case for the car maker.

Labor industry spokesman Kim Carr said the government had ‘‘a viciousness to it, a callous disregard for the social consequences’’ of companies like Toyota departing Australia.

University of Adelaide economics and workplace expert John Spoehr warned the closure of all three car makers in Australia could ultimately pull Victoria and South Australia into recession.

‘‘This is the collapse of an entire industry, not just Ford, Toyota and General Motors Holden,’’ Professor Spoehr said.

‘‘Those companies are the tip of the automotive industry – underneath them is a massive components industry and thousands of other suppliers’’ such as transport, business services and advertising.

“It starts to amount to thousands and thousands of jobs.

“With Holden alone we were looking at 50,000 jobs . . . [now] you are looking at hundreds of thousands.’’

The chief executive of the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers, Richard Reilly, said most component suppliers didn’t have other revenue streams.

‘‘This is devastating, diabolical,” he said.

I once worked for a data-warehousing company in Melbourne and met many of those automotive products manufacturers. Not a single one was interested in any sort of business analysis software for their businesses…all stating they had no need as everything they made was bought by Holden, Ford or Toyota and long may it continue…as a Kiwi watching such a cosseted and protected attitude it did my head in…now 14 years later my comments to them that government change and what governments hand out in subsidies and concessions governments can take away. it was a valuable business lesson I learned back then, that any business reliant on subsidies or concessions to be profitable isn’t a business at all.


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