Analysis and Commentary

@AuManufacturing readers comment on lack of car industry

Analysis and Commentary

On Saturday @AuManufacturing reported that with Saudi Arabia inaugurating its first car factory, Australia is now alone among the G20 in not having it own car industry We said: “An outside observer looking in at Australia might surmise that our recent vision has been to consciously de-industrialise.” Here @AuManufacturing readers and members of our Australian Manufacturing Forum Linkedin networking and discussion group have their say.

“Its a disgrace…oh how the mighty have fallen. We had a solid auto manufacturing industry that we gave away and with it many capabilities were lost maybe forever” – Jurij Polischko, Flinders University.

  • “Absolutely. The coalition talk tough on Defence but apparently couldn’t make the link that manufacturing and auto in particular are a key part of sovereign capability” – Barry Anderson, independent strategist.

“Thanks mainly to Abbot, Matthias Cormann and Joe Hockey” – Nicklas Lindewald, General Manager at Metimur Energy.

  • “Not true Nicklas. Ford left under the Gillard Govt before Abbott etc were in power. It is a hell of a lot more complex than being partisan. Tariff reduction was supported by both sides of politics” –Jason Furness, CEO Texo Australia.

“Let’s move on from thinking making cars in Australia is coming back. It isn’t. And there is no reason to reinstate it. It’s not a hallmark of high value-added manufacturing or an industry with any export potential” – Jeremy Pooley, Director, Triple Innovation Pty Ltd.

“Ukraine, Serbia, Slovenia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan outside the G20 make their own cars- they are also not ‘gurt’ by sea with a LOT of rail and other infrastructure into Europe, China etc” – Leigh Morresi, all round geek.

“Yes, very frustrating given Australia basically co-developed the global hit Toyota Landcruiser with our rugged rural proving ground. We really should be assembling EVs here. We need to be targeting the key elements of supply chains where we can contribute. Design, assembly and optimisation !?” – Christian Ruberg, Director Robotics Australia Network.

  • “Christian… I don’t think the game is assembling cars anymore… other counties can do better and more effective … we got really good at digging holes, how about we continue the chain and get really good at processing, how about we get really good at recycling and turning waste into raw metrical … companies like @Redwood Materials are doing in the US a which is quite expensive labour wise… we can do the same here!” – Carlos Fortuna, father, engineer and economic nerd.

“Thanks for posting… I would think that cost of labour will continue to make it cost prohibitive to re-establish the car manufacturing industry agin in Australia… I would say… that rare earth processing along with battery manufacturing (and possibly recycling) is probably the way to go … I mean we are in the backyard to China… with over 1 billion residents and another close to another billion between everyone else in Indo-Pacific … imagine if manufacturing was established as a finished product… then we recycle batteries and put the material back in the production line” – Carlos Fortuna.

  • “The deal should have been, we buy your nuclear submarines if you (the US) invest to an equal value with us in critical minerals processing and value adding here” – Christian Ruberg.
  • “Labour isn’t the largest issue. Cost of energy, proximity to markets and the general lack of Govt support for manufacturing are far bigger issues” – Jason Furness.

“I watched Bill Shorten fiddling while Tony Abbot burned our auto industry to the ground.
Here’s a question, why has a country like South Korea who after WW2 and a grinding a civil war, couldn’t feed themselves, had no natural resources to speak of, infrastructure was blasted to shreds until they finally got there act together through a tenuous peace and began the rebuild from the rubble. Now they have a huge auto industry as well as electronics, white goods and a thriving heavy manufacturing industry.
Now compare Australia’s strategy in the same time frame and where we are today.
So what of the future?” – Enzio Viti.

  • “Yes, Ezio Viti it is very interesting that some of the worlds biggest manufacturers were born from government support and industry policy.
    Now following that success we are seeing them develop a very successful defence industry” – Michael Slattery, business development professional.
  • “Now that Peter Dutton has revealed that Tony Abbott is a “soldier” maybe he could be asked how he fought the battle for an Australian car industry? All I can recall is him demanding more Free Trade Agreements…which inevitably were accompanied by demands that any support for our car industry be ended (while our FTA “partners” ramped up support for their own -remember “cars for cows”?). Reckon the main weapon in General Abbott’s armoury was a white flag – wielded by his trusty lieutenant Hockey, lifting & leaning his way to being US ambassador” – Andrew Dettmer – National President Amalgamated Manufacturing Workers Union.
  • “Historical inaccuracies plague this conversation about the auto sector. Ford left under Gillard. Both major parties supported tariff reduction. Korea would be a very different place without the money pumped into it by the US as a bulwark against communism. Have they done well, absolutely” – Jason Furness.

“It has cost our society a lot more than not making cars, we have lost our design and engineering capabilities, we have lost our trade skills, we have changed our education to humanities and political sciences, we have lost opportunities for those students not suited to university, we have lost many of our manufacturing companies, we have lost an identity that said as a nation we make things.
We did this because we did not want unionised factories to dictate labour rates” – Michael Slattery.

Further reading:
Australia alone in G20 not making cars

Picture: National Museum of Australia/Holden FX 48-215

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