sackings in the United States announced by Ford last week
haven’t drawn much attention to the local automotive industry – even though
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has just been in Detroit. Pity.

There was
a brief and rather scary item on the health of the Australian automotive
industry in the SMH last Monday.
“The local operations of Holden and Ford are expected
to be drawn more closely into the world operations of their ailing American
parent companies, which would put more Australian supply contracts in doubt
unless local parts makers can make the leap to the world stage,” it warned.

That day, though, Macfarlane said he had
secured a commitment from car manufacturers in the United States that Ford and Holden will continue their current operations in Australia.
He talked about “the mutual obligation we felt the parents of GM
and Ford owed Australia.”

Could that obligation possibly be to
source components locally in exchange for a rather large amount of taxpayers’

The Age talked about “a robust exchange of
views” in a gloomy report on Tuesday.
“Mr Macfarlane gained commitments from the two struggling car giants to their Australian
operations,” it said.

That’s very different to a recognition of
“mutual obligation.” Who do we believe? There’s nothing up on Macfarlane’s
website to clarify matters.

PS Last Friday the ABC broke the news that Mitsubishi will cut a
further 250 jobs at its struggling Tonsley Park plant in South Australia
after poor sales of its make or break 380 model. Adelaide media insiders
say The Advertiser had the story – but chose to ignore the bad news.