Holden shutdown will have little effect on Ballarat manufacturing industry

THE decision to cease manufacturing Holden vehicles in Australia won’t have as big an effect on Ballarat as it would have had two or three years ago.

Australian Industry Group (AIG) regional manager Kay Macaulay said there had been a decline in the number of component manufacturers in the city.

“Most of them have said it won’t have a huge effect on them because it is not their main customer,” she said. 

“I am not sure, but I don’t think it will have a large impact on our manufacturing sector at this stage.

“Most of the component manufacturers who supplied to Ford are not here any more.”

Holden expects to cease  operations in 2017, which will cost Australia about 2900 jobs.

Ford’s decision in May to cease manufacturing in Australia forced an “easing off” of the motor industry, according to Ms Macaulay.

Previously, AIG had 14 members that were connected with the automotive industry but now it has two. 

“There were businesses that closed that were directly connected with the motoring sector,” Ms Macaulay said. 

“Out of the 14 component companies, a lot of them have disappeared.

“I suppose we don’t have a big automotive industry in Ballarat. We still have suppliers to the automotive industry but on a much lower scale than a few years ago.” 

General Motors Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said a priority of the next four years was to ensure the best possible transition for workers in South Australia and Victoria. 

“This has been a difficult decision, given Holden’s long and proud history of building vehicles in Australia,” Mr Devereux said. 

“We are dedicated to working with our teams, unions and the local communities along with the federal and state governments.”

Ballarat MP Catherine King said she was angered by the way the issue was handled by the Abbott government. 

“The Abbott government has basically played chicken with Holden,” she said. 

“What has happened today is the direct result of a government policy choice.

“A large (number) of our small to medium-size enterprises in Ballarat exist because the car industry exists. 

“With Holden going we will see job losses. That is a direct result of that in our region.”

Ms King said Australia was in danger of not having a car manufacturing industry as well as not having a car component industry. 

General Motors chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson said the decision reflected the storm of negative influences surrounding the automotive industry.

These included the high Australian dollar, the high cost of production, a small domestic market and “arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world”.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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