Sunday, 15 December 2013

Politics: The day the music died! Why don't our leaders have vision?

I have put off writing this for a few days.. to allow myself to cool down a bit. But I don't think it's working. The announcement that Holden is closing. For me.. the day the music died. Nissan, Mitsubishi and then Ford. All the car makers are slowly going.

But Holden??

Say it isn't so!

Yes it may be a tentacle of the GM octopus; but hey.. Holden is our car. Nobody else's, it's our Aussie car!

Half the bloody country were  probably conceived in the back seat of a Holden!

So uniquely Australian in our hearts.

Over the years I have owned 3 Holdens (currently drive a Cruze) and my late dad had 4 of them.

For me, this dreadful decision has just confirmed to me that our leaders lack vision. Now don't start about the big car thing with me. In 1998 the Commodore was 10% of all cars sold in Australia. At that point with long lead times the engineers and designers at Holden were starting work on the car that was to be the forerunner of the current VF. And in the meantime, for whatever reason we changed to smaller cars. Now some say the Commodore is a gas guzzler. Well for a big car it is really fuel efficient. When the change to unleaded fuel came to us in 1986, the availability of fuel injection on cars made for big changes in economy in the bigger engined cars.. the 6 & V8 models. And it just keeps getting better.

The lack of vision I see is this.. when Holden close, Toyota must follow. The sub component suppliers simply will not have the volume to remain viable with only one manufacturer. So expand your mind to think of other manufacturing plants that have closed.

Let's just look at Brisbane. GM used to build cars here. Initially in the Valley. My dad helped build the assembly line when he first emigrated to Australia back in the 1920s. Fast forward to 1970. Here in Brisbane we had both Ford and Holden building cars here, Olympic made tyres at Geebung, Edgell had a tinned vegetable cannery at Manly and we built washing machines, refrigerators, stoves and other white goods in other states of Australia. Sidchrome made world class spanners and sockets in Melbourne, Astor and Kriesler made Hi Fi systems and TV sets in Australia and we looked after these industries.

What the hell happened?

Well our imports from Asia increased, our cost of production increased and then in later years for some crazy reason we lowered import tariffs while we all signed free trade agreements with countries like Thailand. All of our 1 tonne utes are now made in Thailand as is Ford's biggest selling small car. Nikon make their camera bodies there now; no longer in Japan.

As recently as last week we signed a new deal with South Korea, zero import duties. But even the Koreans must have issues as their baby car the I20 is now made in India!

But back to Australia… when all of the factories are gone, where the hell will our kids work. Graduate engineers, designers etc apart from the production line staff! What a mess Adelaide and Geelong will become when Holden and Ford are gone. Instead of paying money to keep them in production, we will be paying the dole to their former workers. What will the social implications be? They won't be able to make their mortgage payments, their houses will be worth stuff all as nobody will want to move there.. a social disaster in the making.

Right in front of our eyes.

But hey.. I'm OK Jack!

Because our leaders seem to think that the jobs of factory auto workers here are less important than in Korea and Thailand, Australia is in for a rough time. And it is OK for these pious journalists to sit in their air conditioned offices filing yet another story on why Holden must close.. they are part of the problem. The ABC helped to hound Mitsubishi out of business. By continually stating that the factory would close, buyers stopped buying for fear of buying an orphan. It became a self fore filling prophecy.

So Tony Abbot, Joe Hockey and Bill Shorten and Co….. where is the vision? What do you have planned for us? We sell the farm to the overseas buyer, we close our food processing plants, we allow Woolworths and Coles to drive the dairy farmers broke and off their farms, we close the auto makers, we lose the manufacturing ability to produce weapons here in the event of a national security crisis and on it goes. Where do you plan to get the money to pay the dole to all of the workers from Holden Ford, Toyota and all of the component suppliers when it all comes to an end? The rest of us aren't doing all that well now! We cannot help out guys!

Of all the money paid to Holden, how much comes back to the government in GST, income tax from the direct manufacture and sale of cars let alone the places where the auto workers spend their money? How will that stack up with paying the ex workers the dole?

Where is the vision .. what is the vision? A country that becomes a fools' paradise as we all sit around and collect the dole (because we have no work) and fund it by unsustainable borrowings from overseas. Perhaps Angela Merkel might fund us. I mean she has already helped to bail out Greece. And Germany like America is another country where the auto industry is subsidised by the government.

If our $ was trading at US$0.80 then Holden and Toyota and even Ford could have exported more cars and therefore had higher sales.. success! Or what about letting the average non business owner "man in the street" claim a one off $10,000 tax deduction for buying a car that is made/assembled here in Australia. Holden, Ford or Toyota. How badly will that affect the bottom line Minister Hockey compared with the millions we send overseas in aid?

No.. it's all too hard isn't it. So Minister Hockey let the drys win, let the cards fall where they might and don't worry about the future of Australia.. just the next election.

Holden say it is too late to reverse the decision. I say bullshit! When people with a vision, a good heart and common sense get together around a table, any problem is solvable. The politicians from all sides, the unions, the executives from GM.. they have the ability to sort this out. Why do they all give up so easily and say this is inevitable? If we had of had thinking like that in WW2 we would have been taken over by the invading Japanese army!

I ask again of our political leaders.. what is the vision. What do you see us all doing in 20 years to enable us to have full productive employment? We cannot all work in the quarry that is what Australia is going to be. When the AU$ falls.. and it will as sure as God made little red apples, we will become a real banana republic beholden to overseas producers of cars and food!

Do we have any real leaders out there?

My next car in 2014. A Calais V.. made in AUSTRALIA!