The effects of the ALP/LNP Lima Declaration 1975: manufacturing gone

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Contributed by a lifelong Ford Geelong computer programmer employee:

Sorry ? Yes – I feel I have been let down, but I am more sorry for Australia. The problem is not just Ford, it is the whole of Australian primary and secondary industry.

When I joined the industry in 1960 Australia had the following Automotive Manufacturers:-

Ford Australia – (Plants in Geelong, Ballarat, Broadmeadows, Sydney, and Brisbane).

Australian Motor Industries. – (Standard Motor Company and Mercedes Benz, Rambler, and Fiat tractors, – plants in Melbourne and Sydney)

British Motor Corporation – (Austin, Morris – Plants in Melbourne and Sydney)

Chrysler Australia- (Plants in Keswick, Mile End and Finsbury, Continental and General Distributors -(Peugot – plant in Heidelberg Melbourne) – bought out by Misubishi

Fiat – (tractor assembly at the Pressed Metal Corporation plant in Sydney)

General Motors Holden – ( Plants in Port Melbourne, Dandenong, Adelaide, and Sydney)

International Harvester- ( Plant in Geelong)

Leyland Motors – (Albion and Scammel , Plants in Melbourne and Sydney)

Renault (Australia) – (assembled by Clyde Industries, Victoria)

Rootes ( Australia) – (Plants at Port Melbourne and Dandenong)

Rover ( Australia) – ( Pressed Metal Corporation Sydney – most of the land rover was made and assembled in Oz)

Volkswagen (Australia) – (Plant in Clayton Victoria)

Willys Motors (Australia) – (Plant in Rocklea Brisbane)

White Trucks (Brisbane)

There was also another company assembling one of the early Japanese imports at Kangaroo Point.

Then of course there was our own Repco, a major automotive parts manufacturer and engine re-builderat that stage, and a company which was then more than capable of building the first all Australian car

These were not fly-by-nighters, some of them were in existence as early as 1914 – one hundred years ago !!

From that foundation the only one left is GMH, whose very existence as a manufacturing facility is hanging by a thread.

I have no idea what has happened to all the major parts and machine suppliers, Duly and Hansford, Bendix, Borg Warner, Pilkingtons Glass, Zenford, Small, A.C.I, McPhersons, and countless others, all appear to be dead.

Do you believe that all fourteen of those fifteen major companies were incapable? Shortly to be fifteen out of fifteen???????

We now have a relative newcomer, Toyota, with a plant in Altona, which will, in all possibility, be last man standing .

You think the Automotive industry is the only casualty? In the last few months Australia has also shut down the Shell refineries in Sydney and Geelong. Don’t even worry about the long-dead fasteners, carpet, textile, shoe, clothing etc. industries – they are as numerous as prayer notes in the Wailing Wall.

It’s time to ask the hard question, – is something wrong with Australia?

When I left Ford, in round figures it employed 5,000 at the Geelong site, 6,000 at the Broadmeadows site, 700 in the Sydney plant, and 300 in the Brisbane plant – 12,000 people. That is only the start. Then there are all the outside contractors directly dependent on the Company, we used to estimate this conservatively as about another 33% – 4,000. A straight 16,000 total. Then there is on top of that all the people who serviced those 16,000 – I have no idea how you calculate that, and it is a bit nebulous anyway as the 16,000 are still there, just at a lower level of economic importance.

It is blatantly obvious that our political system just does not work – I have been voicing this for the last thirty odd years. I have no idea what it should be changed to, the basis is sound, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. The political intelligence of the bulk of the Australian voting public is heading to absolute zero, and our politicians depend directly on that.

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Posted on June 25, 2013, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hello, I would like to subscribe for this website to obtain most recent updates, so where can i do it please help.

  2. A good comment on the effects of unregulated free trade. We see – every day – more evidence that international corporations continue to white-ant national sovereignty. The latest example is the TPP which is frightening in its implications.
    It has been said that the Lima Declaration (although not a treaty and not binding) was written to preference developing countries, so that they might grow economically and socially. 40 years later, Australia has been largely de-industrialised but are developing nations actually any better off? Certainly China has benefitted, as have some other Asian countries that might have been classed as ‘developing’ 40 years ago (eg Singapore, Taiwan) – but the poorest countries in the world remain undeveloped. So it can be said that the Lima Declaration has not been effective, broadly, in bringing development to where it’s most needed.
    We might ask then, why the rush to even more liberalisation of trade? Is it well-meaning but incompetent government agencies pushing this line, to help out the world’s poor? No. It is not.
    Unmitigated free trade has failed to deliver the goods for most of these countries. Senior bureaucrats know this. The push for no-holds-barred free trade now comes solely from big business, interested in nothing more noble than increasing profits and shareholder returns.
    If Australia is to re-industrialise, we need a sensible industry policy that doesn’t shy away from ‘picking winners’ because some libertarian policy-wonk says it’s unfashionable. Or because international corporations might be disadvantaged.
    A sound industry policy would not seek to take us back to the 1970’s, but would recognise high tech industries and services that will be important in the 21st century. It would protect these industries in Australia and offer tax and other incentives for their development. It would also recognise Australia’s potential as a food and fibre manufacturer, given our ability to produce the raw materials. It would assist in developing world-class manufacturing facilities that use technology to efficiently process our food and fibre into products that the world wants. Free trade relies on ever cheaper labour to deliver inexpensive product to consumers. We need to rely on technological and management innovation, supported by national policy.
    Unfortunately, though, I can’t see any of this happening soon. Australians have been conditioned to accept the dogma around how ‘free trade benefits us all’ (sic) too deeply for trade matters to decide elections.
    Again – congrats on an excellent article.

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