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Crikey says: where’s the industry policy now?

Our car industry is dead — so what’s the policy to replace the jobs? Plus we ask the economists what it means for the economy. As federal Parliament returns, which pollies are sitting the most? Guy Rundle breaks down the Amanda Knox case. Helen Razer on the Schapelle saga. And media priorities on a big day of news.

On the thousands of Toyota workers who will lose their jobs in 2017, the thousands more from Ford and Holden who face a similar fate, and the tens of thousands of workers up and down the automotive supply chain who have had their livelihood implode under them, Tony Abbott says he’ll help them move from “good jobs to better jobs”.

So where are they? Here’s the Prime Minister on AM talking to Chris Uhlmann:

If you ask me, Chris, can I say what individual Toyota workers will be doing in four years’ time, I can’t give you that answer, but Chris, none of us know the answers to those questions. What we’ve got to do is remember that we are creative people in a capable country who have always faced the future with confidence and have always made the most of it.”

Creative and capable we may be, but there needs to be a plan. One that goes beyond shovelling money into the coffers of the Victorian and South Australian governments in the name of “training” and “transition”.

The challenge for all Australian governments is enormous: in a post-mining boom, post-heavy manufacturing era, where will the jobs — and the nation’s future economic prosperity — come from? What are the industries governments should be supporting? The writing has been on the wall for the car industry for years — it’s a failure of the former Labor government, as much as anyone, for not responding sooner.

Already, the Abbott government has nobbled two of the best future bets: the digital economy (by scaling back the National Broadband Network) and clean-tech (by preparing to kill the carbon price, abandoning the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and potentially putting the Renewable Energy Target on the chopping block). So which industries is it going to be?

To not do the hard work on industry policy now, as Paddy Manning argues in Crikey today, would be to commit “economic vandalism”.

13
  • 1
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    While there may be many capable, confident and creative people in Australia, the fact that Tony Abbott is our leader, does tend to contradict the assertion, that we are a capable, creative and confident nation.

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    One more “Abbott Whopper” to put on the pile.

  • 3
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to make a prediction about one person’s job in 4 years time - TT will be a footnote in history, hopefully drowned with a chaff bag stuffed between his smacking lips.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    That’s Abbott for you - leave it up to somebody else and see if he can get in on the glory, or duck-shove any responsibility.

  • 5
    Ian
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Horrific as Abbott is this is a much bigger problem. It’s a problem of the so-called free market, free trade ideology which has left Australia and other Reaganite/Thatcherite economies as fragile shells. The biggest benefactor of this laissez faire ideology has been China…oh, and of course the multinationals.

    To move forward perhaps we need to go backwards but thoughtfully and carefully and re-institute some trade barriers and capital controls so as to get some industries going again.

    I don’t think the car industry is necessarily the most appropriate for us unless we find some sort of niche to exploit or create. I think we would do better to promote businesses like SPC (but not as an arm of a big multinational) Also maybe we should try to retain some of the vehicle parts manufacturing here in Australia with a view to developing an export market for them.

  • 6
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes …the coalition is finally the government and prime minister wing-nut always good for a for a slogan …Australia is now open for business. Holden shuts down; Toyota shuts down; SPC down the gurgler potentially tens of thousands out of work. Wait! that’s not all; yet another slogan from our smacking lips wing-nut …says he’ll help those thousands of potentially unemployed move from “good jobs to better jobs”. Oh yes I forgot additionally to help business and technology the NBN still needs to be nobbled as does the ABC just in case they put in an un-Australian news report on our about to be f#&ked economic prospects.

  • 7
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    In my lifetime we have economically rationalised our way out of shipbuilding, aviation, car manufacturing, textiles, clothing, biotechnology, computers and now we are working on food processing. I am actually running out of things to think of that are left in the manufacturing area.

  • 8
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Oh, come on, Matt; some Australians are world leaders in the manufacture of spin.

  • 9
    Geoffrey Bond
    Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Come on unqualified to pontificate on economic matters Mr Editor lets admit your previous anti subsidy rant is totally bogus. EVERY advanced economy subsides industry to one extent or another. The current government is blundering on this issue.

  • 10
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Can we export the spin? Is there an international trade in bullsh*t? We do seem to have a comparative advantage.

  • 11
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Well, I do think that the career of one R. Murdoch, does confirm that there is an international trade in bullsh*t. Though, with the increasingly unhinged efforts of the American right and their local distributors, we now seem to be a net importer of spin. Though there is probably still hope for an ordure led recovery.

  • 12
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Your faith in big government doing large grand industry plans is quaint and completely discredited. You expect the taxpayer to shovel money into cars. Then you expect the taxpayer to shovel money into broadband. Then you expect the taxpayer to shovel money into Adam Bandt’s play set. All this in spite of the fact that all three grand schemes will deliver nil, zero, nothing back to the downtrodden taxpayer of Australia.

    Yep, it’s the 1960s economic plan here at Crikey.

  • 13
    Pamela
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Good article- Thank God one of my children has an EU passport the other did not get around to it- wish he had.
    When I hear young people living overseas say ‘why would we come back to Australia now- lousy right wing intent on spending billions hurting people, no imagination, no respect for intellectual thinkers or artists, hating bleating politicians hogging the media space’ I feel sad.
    When i look at the lack of econmic foresight in our political leaders i am angry.
    They are squandering my children’s (and your’s)future.

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