The first Australian made cars were Ford’s Model T, but this tradition is now slotted to come to an end in 2017, when Ford, GM and ultimately Toyota would stop local production.
The ball is in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s court now, as he won last September the election on its promise to restore an ailing economy. Now, when Toyota will shut its production lines, after Ford and GM would already have done it, around 50,000 jobs in the auto and parts industry could be lost.
“You’re going to have suburbs that are going to lose tens of thousands of jobs within their locales,” said Jim Griffin, national president of the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers. “It’s a dark day. It effectively sets an end date for the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.”
Unemployment rate in Melbourne’s Brimbank-Sunshine region next to Toyota’s Altona manufacturing facility and in the city’s Broadmeadows district that has Ford’s main lines was around 12 % last September. In the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth where GM’s Holden has its main facility, it was 22 %.
“We understand just how difficult the period ahead is going to be,” said industry minister Ian Macfarlane. “Australian industry will never be the same. With this closure, it will change the face of industry.”
According to World Bank data, Australia has the third-highest rate of car ownership among countries with more than a million people and Ford began local production in 1925, Holden in 1948 and Toyota in 1963.