THE impact of Toyota’s decision to stop producing cars in Australia from 2017 goes far wider than the Japanese company’s plant in Altona.
Ballarat’s once-vibrant car parts manufacturing industry has also taken yet another hit.
Australian Industry Group regional manager Kay Macauley described Toyota’s announcement on Monday as another “dark day” for Ballarat manufacturers with much broader ramifications for the community.
“A few years ago we had a very strong car parts manufacturing and components industry in Ballarat. We’ve probably got only two or three left,” she said.
“It’s not just those companies. They use the local cleaners, local caterers, accountants, lawyers, and bank services. A lot of these (manufacturing) companies outsourced these services so it will obviously affect those suppliers too.
“Manufacturing companies will need to look at how they can use their existing equipment to transition into other areas. In five years time they might be manufacturing parts for another type of industry.
“The government needs to have a role in working with industry to ensure the viability of the manufacturing sector.
“We know going forward, businesses that are going to be sustainable are those which look into new technologies. There will not be a lot of job creation but we will need apprentices but perhaps at a higher skill-level.
“We hear a lot about new industries and new jobs but we don’t know what those are.”
One of Ballarat’s remaining car component manufacturers is OzPress, which produces components for Toyota.
The Courier was unable to contact OzPress but, in an interview on goauto.com.au, director Mark Dwyer said the company would go on but would shift away from the automotive sector.
“We are confident of OzPress life post-Toyota,” Mr Dwyer said. “Will it be as big as today? Obviously not. What will be the size of it and what business it will actually be doing? We are not sure, but we are confident of survival.
“We are just beginning to produce some mining products, although most is happening in China because of the cost-base.
“We are building some tools for some mining products here and we just won a small contract with the defence industry so hopefully we can build that.”
Mr Dwyer said Australia had the highest wages in the world, making it one of the most expensive places to manufacture anything.
He also blamed free-trade agreements with other countries that were anything but free.