Former Howard Minister laments loss of car industry

Former Howard Government minister, Nick Minchin, has lashed the Abbott Government for allowing the car industry to go under:

“It’s extremely disappointing that it was the first Coalition governm­ent elected after Labor’s interregnum in 2013 that presided over the closure of the car industry. It would not have taken much to ensure that maybe not Ford but Holden and Toyota maintained capacity in Australia.

“Instead, they were basically told that they could go away and that we couldn’t care less”…

Mr Minchin believes the [$500 million] assistanc­e sought by the auto­motive sector was “negligible” compared with other industries that enjoy greater support…

“The point I made at the time was that once we lost the car indust­ry it would be gone forever, it would be impossible to resurrect it,” Mr Minchin told The Australian.

“Australia invested for a very long time in building up a world-class car industry and in an instan­t it was gone…

“The subsidies that were require­d to keep it afloat were minimal. When you compare them to the hugely generous assistanc­e for renewables, and the support given to the agricultural sector, the amount required was absolutely minuscule. That’s the tragedy of it.

When the decision was made to allow the car industry to close, the Australian dollar was trading at parity with the US dollar, which rendered the industry uncompetitive:

Since then, the Australian dollar has fallen in value by 30%, and it is likely that if the car industry was still operating, it would now be competitive.

As the Australian dollar falls further, we are facing a perverse situation where consumers will pay more for a Holden built in Korea than it would have paid had the cars been produced locally. And this comes on top of the loss of jobs and innovation that came from producing cars locally, as well as the increased debt required to fund the additional car imports.

Talk about a massive own goal.

Leith van Onselen


  1. It’s such a no brainer I wonder if it won’t come back – maybe as vehicle assembly rather than total manufacturing, in the first instance. Toyata started that way.

    • Snotty Millenial

      Thing is, once those skills are lost it’s very very difficult to get them back. Impossible for Australia, hell the average employer in Oz balks at budgeting for even the most basic of skills, let alone the advanced engineering, trade skills, vast supplier networks, logistics etc that it takes for automotive manufacturing. Those things are built up over decades.

      The amount knowledge that is dispersed into the community is immeasurable, and it also feeds into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Take for instance Carbon Revolution. A bunch of young engineers got together in their garage and started making carbon fiber wheels, slowly building up the business over a decade into a medium sized company that now supplies light weight carbon fiber wheels to Ferrari and Ford. A lot of knowledge was shared between them and local automotive engineers. They’ve really had to cut their teeth to get funding but thankfully the Vic government have a least a modicum of sense to back it. A few former holden electrical engineers that were laid off have started a small satellite startup in Adelaide, and I know some who have gone to Rocketlab in NZ. They are the last remnants though, but thats how big industries feed into smaller and future ones. Once that is gone, it’s near impossible to start any new industries because the countries skill base and supplier networks aren’t there. BUT WHO CARES WHEN YOU’VE GOT EQUITY MATE, HOW GOOD IS STRAYA!

      • I agree, it’s a catastrophe…I could go on all day but would blow blood vessels and hurl stuff through the window.

      • Well said, and this is exactly what some of us were banging on about when there was still a car industry. Honestly, the vandalism by the IDIOT & Co is immeasurable. The Wrecker’s finest fkn achievement.

      • Yep it’s the supply chains that really mattered and will prove impossible to rebuild.
        But hey the minster Laments the closure of the Aussie Auto industry, “Laments” like wtf does that mean? I’ve heard much stronger language used by Tradies that lost $100 on the Pokies.

  2. Can’t subsidise a car industry providing vital manufacturing, but we can give $600M to buyers of dodgy high rise flammable sky kennels. Good one Tony and Joe. Fvckheads.

    • One day Tony and Joe will wind up in an aged care facility. I sure hope they enjoy enemata 🙂

    • $600m in victoria alone. So $600 x 2.5 = $1.5 billion. x 2.5 being the usual figure to allow for B.S understating of the real cost and cost blowouts. The money must flow up to the winners! cause this is capitalism at its finest!

    • DominicMEMBER

      Yes Timmeh, but ‘properdy’ is straya’s golden goose! The mighty ponzi must be pandered to, coddled and fellated on a constant basis …

      … at the expense of all else.

  3. proofreadersMEMBER

    “Talk about a massive own goal.”

    How good is Straya.

    However, we do have to remember that making cars is not really challenging enough for so-superior Straya – we have to play to our so-superior strength: shipbuilding!!

    • Jumping jack flash

      Shipbuilding? Sounds like work. Working is for losers.

      The real action is when you push enormous piles of fake debt around and everyone gets instantly rich from doing nothing.

  4. “We have to play to our so-superior strength: sh**building!!”

    There. Fixed it for you.

  5. Renewables are subsidized?

    LOL. Imagine if we didn’t have the global warming hysteria and just had cheap, dependable and clean coal fired power? We could even have other industries!

    Instead we export jobs, technology and wealth to third world countries who’ll used dirtier fuel anyway. For what? We are left with an economy based on RE and hyper-charged migration.

    • I trust you take your 20 puffs of coal smoke a day for the country.

      Strange how the LaTrobe Valley and other coal mining areas show higher incidences of lung related problems.

    • It is almost a fact now after a series of News corp brainwashing that we are suffering economically in the pursuit of reducing climate change by not burning coal and using wind power/ solar instead.

      Let me be very clear Australia has suffered absolutely nothing economically. We have not sacrificed anything to help combat climate change! Only our ears and brains have suffered listening to the spin from the greed coalition.

  6. Half a bil for a strategic national asset (manufacturing facilities, logistics, supply chain and skills)

    It’ll cost 50x that if it suddenly becomes necessary.

    • Bingo – supply chains. Jobs, exports, CAD are all insignificant compared to the loss of supply chains

  7. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    bit late now Nick FFS
    if you really gave a fvk about the country why don’t you lash the govt over the cultural replacement that is happening right now ya goose

  8. Reading stories like that really makes me want to take to the street and throw Molotov Cocktails at the establishment, French Yellow Vest style.

    • proofreadersMEMBER

      Nah – take a deep, deep breath and channel that love that ScoMo was espousing that we need more of, at the happy-clappy love-in at Hillsong last week.

      Like having a health insurance policy with Medibank Private, you should be feeling better now.

      How good is Straya.

  9. Minchin left Parliament in 2011, the Libs under Abbott got back into govt in 2013. We can not blame Minchin for this fiasco. As a South Australian senator he would have protected the the manufacturing base there, including the vehicle sector, had he still been in office with influence as a senior Minister.

    Hockey was, is and always will be just plain hopeless and stupid. His family were real estate agents, so naturally he supported anything that went with that sector, even if it would massively distort the Australian economy and lead to local population displacement/replacement. I would have expected better from Abbott, but it seems he is basically just a straw man with no vision, so its great he has been removed from Parliament.

    • Snotty Millenial

      Fat Joe Hockey doesn’t care about anything that doesn’t passively earn income while he can lounge around stuffing his face with caviar and cuban cigars.

      There was hidden motive behind the closures, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union represented a lot of Ford and Holden employees (not sure about toyota), so by killing the industry you starve AMWU of funds, which starves the ACTU. Given the ACTU is Labor’s biggest poltical backer, you starve the ALP.

      In the US the Republicans did this to the Democrats in the 80’s and 90’s with “right to work” states and a series of foreign trade agreements that made unions effectively redundant. The democrats traditional union funding base eroded so they ran to the finance industry and lobbyists and essentially became republican lite. Same is happening in Australia with Labor. Thats why their only real platform is identity politics, its safe and won’t insult the overlords.

      • Dear Snotty Millenial
        It has been brought to the attention of his Most High and Exalted Majesty God Emperor Scummo the Magnificent that you are a sniveling bolshie who don’t know how good ‘Straya is. It’s all Labor’s fault that the Unions closed down Holden because they can’t sing and don’t know how to clap. Ford never built any real estate or made any coal powered cars so its their fault too, and Toyota where the bloody hell are you? If the car companies were any good they would have cut red tape and shifted production to real estate and digging up coal. As a Strong Economic Manager I’m glad they closed because now all those Engineers can get good real estate jobs so they can lift themselves up the property ladder by their bootstraps until they’ve never had it so good.
        Have a go ya mug.
        King Scummo

    • That’s what I kept saying to people who jumped on the Getup anti Abbott bandwagon, Abbott deserves to go, but not for the crappy identity political reasons Getup gave, he should go because what he did to the car industry.

  10. Minchin
    -cigarettes aren’t addictive
    -passive smoking is not bad for you
    -the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist.
    He’s not qualified to talk about anything.

  11. Similar to the ScoMo holding up a lump of coal in parliament all I recall from Hockey’s contribution was him daring the companies to shut the factories during the debate. Remarkable legacies for our children to look back on.