What to do to save the 440 jobs at Ford? And all the other jobs that supply Ford? And the car manufacturing industry in Australia?
Why don’t we nationalise the lot instead of giving billions to a group of companies whose expertise in judging the market has them pumping out gas guzzlers for an audience of none?
Labor started the car manufacturing industry in Australia as both a matter of national pride and defence and economic security.
Taxpayers have subsidised the industry to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars since.
The car industry is the symbol of manufacturing in Australia, the backbone of the idea that our nation makes things; that we are part of the productive world.
There are about 56000 workers in the car industry (suppliers and manufacturers) across Australia.
It is under threat from the high Australian dollar and inadequate management vision. So for example some years ago 80% of new cars on our roads were Australian made.
The rise and rise of the Australian dollar, driven by the resources boom, has reversed the figures so that now 86% of new cars on the road are imported.
As an aside, Rudd’s Resource Super Profits Tax on all minerals would have slowed the mining boom down a bit and so perhaps kept the dollar a little lower and thus helped keep a certain level of car manufacturing competitiveness in Australia.
The Productivity Commission estimates that Australian consumers and taxpayers provide a net subsidy per year of $1.6 billion to the car industry through tariffs, grants and tax concessions.
A car assistance package from 2009 to 2021 will cost $6.3 billion.
At the beginning of the year the Gillard Labor Government gave $34 million to Ford to boost fuel efficiency and emissions performance of some of its key models. The Prime Minister predicted this would create 300 new jobs.
Ford have trousered the money and announced they will sack 440 staff at Geelong and Broadmeadows. In April last year Ford sacked 240 workers.
This follows action by Toyota who in April this year sacked 350 workers- over 7% of its workforce. Holden got rid of 100 jobs a week later.
Instead of giving all this money to Ford, General Motors and Toyota, why doesn’t a Labor government with all those Labor values we hear so much about just nationalise the car manufacturers?
Ah but that would be inefficient wouldn’t it? Well maybe, but in 2011 the industry exported $3.3 billion worth of cars and parts.
But let’s think outside the box a little here. The looming environmental crisis caused by capitalism’s love affair with fossil fuels continues apace.
Imagine having an industry with a skilled workforce and sophisticated modern machinery tooled up to supply the expertise, the tools, the different modes of public transport and so on necessary to address this threat.
Put simply why doesn’t Labor nationalise Ford, Holden and Toyota as part of a plan to turn Australia into a completely renewable energy country by 2025 and to turn out not just solar panels and wind turbines but public transport in the form of buses, light rail and high speed trains?
That would not only save jobs; it would create them.
How could we pay for this?
Tax the rich. It’s their pollution that is destroying the planet. It’s their money that should save it, and jobs.