Tears as last Ford rolls off production line today

By Leith van Onselen

ABC’s 7.30 Report last night ran a depressing segment on the closure of Ford Australia’s assembly operations, which will happen today. The segment profiles several assembly workers and examines what will happen to these workers in the future.

The most alarming testimony comes from Professor John Spoehr from the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute:

We haven’t lost a large industry in decades, and the consequences of it are very dire for not only the major auto makers but also for this complex web of companies that depend upon the existence of the auto industry…

Some pretty extensive mechanisms have been put in place by federal and state governments to retrain Ford workers and to support them in their transition to alternative work…

There are reasons to think that this is going to be a much worse outcome than that occurred back in 2008 [when Mitsubishi closed] because there simply aren’t the full-time jobs available.

Almost all the growth in recent times has been in three areas: Health, ageing, community services and education.

Some do successfully make the transition and many are taking that opportunity. But it can be a bridge too far for many auto workers.

Meanwhile, Holden has also announced that local production of Holden’s small car, the Cruze, has wound up at the Elizabeth plant in Adelaide’s north, with up to 270 jobs to go over the next few months. From ABC News:

The end of the Cruze is the first step in the company’s eventual exit from car making in Australia next year, when production of the Commodore ends.

Holden said the job losses would be staggered because it needed some of the Cruze staff to work on a large order of Commodore-based cars for the US market.

By the end of 2017, both Holden and Toyota will shutter for good, bringing an end to nearly 70 years of automotive production in Australia.

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Leith van Onselen


  1. Has there every been a lower point in Australian politics than Abbott and Hockey goading the car manufacturers into shutting up shop?

      • Allowing the illegal sale of thousands of properties to overseas buyers, artificially increasing the price of property out of the reach of hard working Australians while thumbing their nose at the future generations of Australia, all the while ignoring the money laundering rules and laws that all other countries have or are now implementing; making Australia the home of money laundering via real estate.

      • +1 AW
        For me the bipartisan incompetence/fraud/sham of the 2014 FIRB inquiry takes the cake
        Having been forced to admit the longterm and widespread and corruption of the foreign investment laws and the wholesale failure of the regulator, after a bit of window dressing to fool the naive, the govt then not only allowed the fraud to continue but left the chief fraudster in charge

    • Agree – but Rudd not getting through an effective mining tax – robbing the Australian population from having a large sovereign wealth fund like Norway from the sale of OUR assets to fund things like free education, infrastructure etc.

  2. Does anyone else here remember Allan Moffat going down Conrod straight in a Ford with “the accelerator AAALLL THE WAAAYY TO THE FLOOORRR.”?

  3. Is there any news on what cars will replace the Falcon and Commode in future years. Perhaps Mustangs and Camaros?
    Or are we going to be like Cuba and drive around in retro Aussie cars held together by chicken wire and duct tape?

    • Apparently new import laws will make cars a lot cheaper… so hopefully will get a bit more diverse range of cars around! Around 18 month wait for a mustang these day too!

      • +1 As the PC recommended and as promised…..
        Get rid of all parallel import restrictions
        Get rid of all remaining car tariffs
        Get rid of the LCT
        …and lets get on with it

      • too many rent seeking car importers in that pipeline will get disturbed so they will still make it near impossible to bring in a car yourself

  4. bolstroodMEMBER

    Vale Australian Auto manufacturing.

    What a bloody waste. An agile and innovative government could have redirected the industry into Electric Vehicles and improved our energy security by weaning us off petroleum. Australia no longer refines crude oil, (apart from a small outfit in WA.) All our petroleum fuel is shipped from Singapore , via the South China Sea, not the most secure sea lanes in the world.
    A new industry could have emerged from Abbott & Hockey’s wreckage, if govt. subsidised it. It works for the Fossil Fuel industries.

    • There is at least one other refinery, in Geelong. Swiss company Vitol bought it from Shell and continued it’s operation. According to their website they provide over 50% of Victoria’s fuel.

      • Caltex Lytton in Brisbane, Viva Energy in Geelong, ExxonMobil in Melbourne (Altona), plus BP Kwinana in WA. All are aging though, and are tiny compared to the 500 thousand barrel per day refineries in Singapore.

    • Govt should not direct industry anywhere. What is needed is a REAL value of the A$. Money an business will go where it will be best. By REAL value for the A$ we’re talking, at the moment, probably USD 0.35 to 0.40…maybe even lower for a few years.
      I’d be very surprised if the car industry couldn’t have made a nice profit at those sorts of levels.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        When near parity it was impossible, but at the current price it would have been close to, if not competitive, except for the lack of investment since the decision to close three years ago.

      • St J You are obviously better informed on the subject than I am. Thank you. Even more evidence of the idiocy of the sort of short term decision making that is going on through the whole nation.

      • Ding, ding. For companies to invest heavily in a deflationary world you need a large competitive advantage. Sorry to say but, at current exchange rates, any European country (who have a bigger industrial base anyway), Japan, Korea or the US are a better bet. Also the dollar rebound must have felt like a stab in the heart for those holding on. If it doesn´t go to the low 60´s handle in the next 12 mo or so it is going to be Armaggedon as SMEs throw the towel.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        Probably right Jason. At the current exchange rate, they’d probably marginal. I’m really thinking back to the late 90s and early 2000s when Holden VE was number one and selling and big numbers and Toyota was a massive and profitable exporter and parts were being exported, and the exchange rate was around AUDUSD mid 60s, I think.

      • SJ: that is it precisely. To stay, 65-70c would have been OK, but to invest, 55-60 or lower. The sad thing is people nowadays think manufacturing is dirty and low tech and they talk endlessly about the need for more R&D and technology… 🙁

      • Good point Jason. A dip in the exchange rate that is followed by a rebound on the back of a heap of big asset sales to foreigners would do more harm than good in the long term. There would be even less certainty than there is now.
        We need some real POLICIES based on our national interest re the exchange rate rather than telling the ECB and the US FED to fix it for us on a day to day at whatever level THEY want OUR currency to be.

    • Ya can’t think about it too much or you’ll be up in the clocktower eying the pedestrians.

      What a tragedy when you think of the costs of starting from scratch.

    • Australia no longer refines crude oil, (apart from a small outfit in WA.) All our petroleum fuel is shipped from Singapore , via the South China Sea, not the most secure sea lanes in the world.


      • bolstroodMEMBER

        I stand corrected on the refining. My Bad.
        As for the rest , given we import our crude leaves us at te mercy geo politics.
        Electrifying our transport is a good in many ways .
        Wasting auto manufacturing is a lost opportunity.

  5. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Love how we bang on about retraining manufacturing workers ..what exactly do we retrain them to do ……..be salesmen for dodgy taxpayer paid for VET courses ?………but then “education ” is a growing “industry” ……..we are heading for a dark place ………

  6. Ok now get rid of all the car tariffs
    Get rid of the parallel import restrictions
    Get rid of the LCT
    …and lets get on with it

  7. We’re closing productive industries that actually MAKE something of value and that, in all likelihood, can never be restored, so that we can continue to over-consume and keep the immigration/RE ponzi scheme that is destroying our lives!
    Again in the words of General MeKenna ‘NUTS!’

    • “Jobs and Growth”.

      And we thought George Orwell was exaggerating in “1984”.

      Still, we voted for this government.

  8. Dry those tears fellow oppressed gloomy peasants. A multitude of opportunity awaits one and all.
    Those liberated factory slaves can now look forward to new carers making coffee, weeding gardens, and driving our new foreign overlords around. Being nannys, giving pedicures, sewing clothes all for the joy of their new feudal masters.
    For extra cash they can sell their kidneys, and as a bonus get a free made in Taiwan dialysis machine.
    Future cash cows include, producing healthy strong Caucasian children that can be sold into servitude to the new masters.

    Its a brave new world. Embrace it with vigor.

  9. Mining BoganMEMBER

    And now, a fellow bogan tale. We were watching a video one of the boys took when he visited some big car festival in Europe. A Lancia GT rolled across screen…

    “What’s that?” says ford addict.
    “Some kind of Lancia GT.”
    “Eh, GT?”
    “Ford should sue!”
    “For them using the GT name. Ford invented it.”
    “They did?”
    “Course. Everyone knows that.”
    “Definitely not the Europeans?”
    “Don’t be stupid.”

    • Apologies for my ignorance but ……. did Ford invent it?
      (I’m not a car person if that’s not screamingly obvious)

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        No. Alfa maybe. Not sure. Good question. European though. I don’t know when Ford’s first GT was. Possibly the GT40 in the 60s.


      Fine tale MB!
      Don’t tell him it isn’t so.
      Italiano- Gran Turismo circa 1920’s. The Eu-ropers might have coined the stylish name, but that GT XY Falcon (70-72) w/351 gave GT it’s soul. For awhile, the XY survivors ( never crashed or modified by Johnno on the weekends) were rising in value better than anything on the ASX. Now, contrary to all theology, geometry and portfolio theory, they are getting ‘beaten’ by residential properties, which is all that matters here anymore.

      “With your chrome heart shining
      in the sun
      Long may you run.”
      Onya Ford!
      (Long May You Run ) Neil Young

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Neil Young? Don’t tell Harry.

        Mr Young has a fine collection of vehicles, or maybe had. Think he lost a few when the LincVolt burnt everything to the ground. There’s a man who loves the automobile.