While listening to NPR in the car this morning, I heard the BBC World News report the following:
Preceding Toyota in leaving the Australian market were Ford and General Motors. When the last factories close shop in 2017, Australia will be without domestic automobile manufacture for the first time since the Holden was introduced in 1948 and according to the linked article, 6,500 jobs will be lost between all three companies’ decision and that doesn’t include Mitsubishi whose last domestic car was sold in 2010.
As to why this is happening, the manufacturers themselves are blaming Australia’s economy making it cheaper to build cars in Thailand and America and import them than to build them locally.
However, there is also a political side to the issue:
Although one can easily surmise that Shorten is simply being opportunistic in using this to blast his opponent, there is evidence that he is correct that policy decisions led to this:
I am not Australian and don’t know anything about the situation down there and would welcome Dopers from that part of the world to chime in. To me, this all sounds pretty intense that an entire industry that has been on the continent for over 60 years and was represented by massive car companies with their tentacles spread all across the globe would almost vanish within decisions made only only a few years apart.
Is this as big of a deal as it sounds? Or is 6,000 jobs and the domestic production of automobiles not really that important to Australia’s economic landscape?
Additionally, I can see how activists, politicians and commentators can look at what happened with the auto industry in Australia and conflate it to issues in other countries - specifically America.
On one hand, conservatives can point out how this is what happens when it simply costs too much to make something: the jobs get shipped elsewhere. Although it is odd to me that the Prime Minister who is taking heat for this is from the Liberal Party which apparently in Australian politics is the more conservative party (contrasting the opposition Labor Party), because the Labor party leader is angry that the government is stopping the automotive subsidies.
This seems the opposite here where the more Liberal American politicians would theoretically not be in favor of subsidizing businesses but would sympathize with the workers while conservatives here might speak about “free markets” but will almost always side with business interests. This is also why Republican governors will have no problem making country-wide tours designed to poach businesses from other areas by offering incentives.
It is difficult for me to make direct analogies since I am pretty unfamiliar with Australian governance and also since in America the politicians are all so grouped in the middle that it’s hard to figure out how we would handle such an abrupt withdrawal of an entire industry. And also, I might be ascribing the importance of the auto industry in America (it was so important that the government spent billions to ensure it wouldn’t fail) with the same industry in a country that might not be as reliant upon it.
With this thread I am hoping to learn more about how important this is to Australia, why it happened and what lessons we can learn in America and other countries.