Toyota has joined Ford and Holden in completing the exodus of the car manufacturing industry from Australia. The move was widely tipped by the manufacturer itself late last year, ahead of an announcement yesterday.
The obvious impact will be felt by automotive component manufacturers in Victoria and South Australia, which is where the bulk of employment in the sector is positioned.
It is difficult not to be disappointed in the decision, however continued loss-making operations must always be examined for future viability. ‘Learning By Doing’ cannot be an endless mantra. Having said that, the automotive manufacturing sector was mature, and well placed to adapt new vehicle technologies as and when they came on stream. This ability will be lost forever.
Ending co-investment in a mature business sector and hoping that other ‘innovative’ industries will emerge in its place may well be the biggest case of wishful thinking of the century.
Innovation does not occur in a vacuum; infant industries are always going to require support in order to survive and grow.
We don’t know what these industries are going to be, and we don’t know how many they will employ as a positive by-product.
Hoping that they will emerge on their own is a problem.