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What really killed vehicle manufacturing in Australia

Image from

Image from

The death knell for Australia’s vehicle manufacturing industry was not because of high labour costs, writes Andreas Bimba in this guest article, but the free-trade agreements that acted to the detriment of the local industry. And who signed them? You won’t be too surprised to learn who.

Toyota, Holden and Ford did not decide to cease local automotive manufacturing because of high labour costs (this is nothing new), nor from a lack of direct financial support (this has been fairly constant but small), although both of these factors added to the pressure. Primarily, it was because of inadequate trade protection of the Australian new car market, the historically high Australian dollar, and finally, extreme hostility shown by the current Federal Government and the Productivity Commission in regard to dealing effectively with the urgent concerns of the industry.

It is quite obvious really, but as we have come to expect, the truth of the matter has largely been ignored by our superficial national media. The main headwind of the many facing Toyota Australia’s local manufacturing operations, and also those of Holden and Ford, is the one-sided Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) signed by our Federal Governments and the almost complete lack of tariff protection.

These FTAs conform to the neo-liberal philosophy of global free trade that is currently in favour with the Coalition Government, the Federal Government’s advisory bodies such as the incompetent Productivity Commission, and also the Australian Labor party.

The Australia Thailand Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) came into force on the 1st January 2005 and was implemented by Prime Minister John Howard.

This agreement has allowed Thailand’s subsidised vehicles into Australia without restriction but has not prevented Thailand imposing secondary restrictions that have totally prevented Australian vehicles from being sold into the Thai market. Australia’s three top selling vehicles in 2013; the Toyota Corolla (43,498 units), the Mazda 3 (42,082 units) and the Toyota HiLux (39,931 units) all came from Thailand. By comparison, for 2013 the Australian made Holden Commodore sold 27,766 units locally and the Toyota Camry sold 24,860 units locally. I have not included Australian exports in these figures.

Over the preceding eight years not one Australian government has addressed the inequities of this vehicle trade imbalance and have stood back and ignored the inevitable consequences. Perhaps the Australian automotive manufacturers have also not tried diligently enough to address this trade imbalance as most of the vehicles being imported were made by subsidiaries of the parent companies.

This chart from GoAuto clearly shows what has been happening from 2005 to 2013. For the Australian new vehicle market it shows total Australian made vehicle sales (exports excluded) and total Thailand made vehicle sales.

GoAuto The Australia Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into force on the 5th December 2013 and was implemented by the Abbott Government. Korea has an almost totally protected car market and provides substantial subsidies to its manufacturers. It is also a much larger and more advanced automotive manufacturer than Thailand.

On the 11th December 2013 General Motors Holden announced the planned closure of its Australian manufacturing operations from the end of 2017.

On the 10th February 2014 Toyota Australia also announced the planned closure of its Australian manufacturing operations from the end of 2017.

It looks fairly clear to me that Holden and Toyota Australia concluded that the Australia Korea FTA was the last nail in the coffin and that there was no longer any point in baring their trading losses in the hope that the national industrial policy environment would improve.

The fact that Holden and Toyota Australia made no headway in Canberra with either the Government or the Productivity Commission with addressing their major concerns about viability under such extremely trade exposed conditions showed that the situation in their eyes was hopeless.

A bumpy road I believe that if a Labor Government was in power that the views of knowledgeable and reasonable negotiators such as Senator Kim Carr would have prevailed and that realistic strategies to address or counteract all of the concerns of the Australian automotive manufacturers would have been implemented. This would have occurred at the time of Holden’s threatened closure and I believe would have saved the local manufacturing operations of Holden and subsequently also those of Toyota Australia.

Even though during the Rudd and Gillard Governments (as well as the Howard Government) the issues of the vehicle trade imbalance with Thailand, the lack of trade protection in general, the unreasonable barriers placed against exports, the occasional unwillingness to export and the historically high Australian dollar were not adequately addressed, I believe that Labor would have done whatever was needed to retain the Australian automotive manufacturing industry as soon as it became aware of how critical the current situation had become.

Given the above, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that the current Coalition Government is primarily responsible for the announced cessation of all Australian automotive manufacture.

Can the Coalition bring themselves to adjust the Australian automotive manufacturing national policy environment sufficiently strongly that Toyota, Holden and possibly also Ford can be persuaded to continue local automotive manufacture beyond the announced closure dates? This is not very likely even though it is strongly in the national interest on so many levels, as it would basically entail the partial abandonment of their neo-liberal economic philosophy which they possibly hold as being more important than the national interest. Perhaps it is time for a leadership spill in the Federal Liberal and National Parties?

Can the next Federal Labor Government, which has every opportunity to win in 2016, bring about a policy environment sufficiently realistic and powerful that Toyota, Holden and possibly also Ford can be persuaded to continue local automotive manufacturing? Despite all the gloom I think that is possible. Even if some or all of the original manufacturers choose not to continue with local manufacturing, it is plausible that other players whether local or foreign may take over the current manufacturing facilities, perhaps even with the original manufacturers holding a minority share of the ownership.

We will see.


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  1. Cap Hill Pretender

    No mention that the production volumes of overseas models are ten times that of those in Australia and this has serious implications for amortising the developmental and average fixed plant costs of such vehicles, not to mention the superior use of capital by running 3×8 or 2×12 hour shifts per day? That simplistic overlay is really voodoo economics in action and the scaling merely presents poor maths in action because the increase in the value of the dollar over that period was around 40% whereas the cut in tariffs was by 5% then 5% constituting minimal reductions.

  2. jasonblog

    Honestly, FFS…

    Malcolm Fraser was the last economic conservative Australia had. Hawke / Keating started the economic rationalist agenda in Oz. Keating prides himself on it. He boasts of liberating the factory floor worker from the assembly line. They would go onto better jobs. Keating gleefully says this. He says this quite clearly in his interview with Kerry O’Brien.

    The recent FTA’s that have been signed are simply part of a 3-decade turn of events.

    The ALP is party to the neo-liberal agenda or has nobody actually read Chris Bowen’s book?

    If you honestly believe that Kim Carr could have saved the auto-industry, fair enough. I think you’ll find that Kim Carr is part of the problem that places the ALP in a quandary. They have absolutely no idea what they stand for. They were in government from 2007-2013 – & if they had been re-elected they would have done what?

    How bloated & corrupt was the auto-industry? How much money was Ford, GM, & Toyota milking off the Australian taxpayer? What efforts did they undertake to transform their operations in Oz.

    I feel sorry for the auto-industry worker. They have been kicked in the guts repeatedly and made to feel they were to blame. They are not. I hope as individuals to find the wherewithal to adapt to the changes that lie ahead for them. I hope proper support & assistance is provided for this. I know it can be difficult for some to make changes at any stage of life.

    However, Australia is better off without an auto-industry. It served its purpose. It’s gone. Life moves on. What Australia needs to do is to come to grips with a discussion centred on future needs and how to achieve this. What skills are essential for Australia & how can we maintain this?

    The auto-industry did not die in Australia because of Tony Abbott. He may have hastened it and things could have been transitioned better, but he merely excised the rot that had already set in.

    The tedious partisan blame-game is just becoming increasingly absurd.

  3. David Somerfield

    Let me make it clear that I love Thailand, have visited the country about 15 times and my partner is Thai. In fact if he would agree I would move there tomorrow but he hates their weather lol…But yes you are right about this crap FTA we have with them.
    Last year Thailand exported over 275,000 vehicles to Australia and they do not attract import duty because of the FTA.
    Holden however attempted to setup a dealer network to sell the Holden Commodore and it failed. You might say ‘oh they probably don’t see it as a brand’ but you need to understand that in the 60’s and 70’s Holden had a massive market in Thailand and many are still to be seen on the roads in rural areas.
    Ford was the same and in the city of Pitsonuloke where I spend most of my time when in Thailand there are several XA, XB and XC Falcons still on the roads along with at least 3 HR Holdens and 2 HZ Kingswood wagons.
    Ford still tries valiantly (oh and old Valiants are still to be seen lol) to sell the Territory but has little luck.
    The Thai authorities do not impose import duty on the Territory, oh no, they impose a “Luxury Goods Tax” of 50% on them
    No government of either political persuasion in Australia has ever had the balls to tell the Thai Government to pull it’s head in over this.
    ALL Governments in Australia have been pathetic at protecting our jobs.
    And we just take it like the lazy bastards we are, after all it might disturb our footie match or the cricket if we were out on the streets protesting.

  4. john921fraser


    50,000 auto and allied workers should start tilling the soil in their backyards and preparing for a long stint on the dole.

    The cost to taxpayers will be far in excess of any subsidy government would have handed out over the next 5 years.

    A job no matter how unsustainable, it is is better than no job.

    And the knock on effects from this governments rationalisation will shake Australia to the core.

  5. Andreas Bimba

    Cap Hill Pretender. 100,000 unit p.a automotive plants such as the Toyota Altona plant (it can peak at 150,000 units p.a.) are only slightly less productive than 200,000 unit p.a plants or even 300,000 unit p.a. plants that one can find overseas provided they are run consistently at capacity. The Altona plant is run 2 x 8 hr shifts per day. There are still many 100,000 unit p.a. plants and smaller throughout the world usually making niche models.

    The Toyota Altona plant was profitable prior to the large rise in the Australian dollar and was internationally competitive with the moderate government subsidy in place. Holden was also profitable then. Yes the high dollar was a major factor in the reduction in industry competitiveness but both the LNP and Labor governments chose not to compensate for this and at the same time allowed a flood of imports from Thailand tariff free. Our national governments set up the industry to fail.

    When the Australia Thailand Free Trade Agreement was signed in January 2005 the tariff was 10% and Thailand imposed secondary restrictions effectively preventing the sale of Australian manufacture vehicles in their market.

    Australia can continue to import the low cost small cars that are typically manufactured in 300,000 unit p.a. or larger plants but manufacture some of the other cars that attract higher margins such as medium cars, current examples are the Toyota Camry/Aurion/Hybrid and Holden Cruze, large rear wheel drive cars, current examples are the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon and SUV’s a current example is the Ford Territory. New market opportunities are electric vehicles, more hybrids and renewable fuel source vehicles. Export is essential to keep manufacturing plants running consistently at capacity and this area was neglected by Ford and Holden for various reasons. Exporting at these moderate volumes should not be difficult.

    Longer production runs and largely cosmetic model upgrades can help spread development and tooling costs which is what Australian manufacturers have traditionally done.

    The Australian new car market is 1.1 million p.a. and it should be feasible to manufacture at least half of this cost effectively locally. Rather than two or three 200,000 unit p.a. plants, five or six 100,000 units p.a. plants would probably suit our market better but this is a question for the manufacturers. Some plants would ideally manufacture two models with many variants to suit Australia’s fragmented market. Toyota’s simple kanban system can easily handle such model variability. For example the Toyota Altona plant initially produced the Corolla (sedan and hatch) and Camry (sedan and wagon) on the same line.

    With a moderate level of government support the Australian automotive industry has been profitable in the past and the industry can continue to be profitable. A moderate government subsidy or equivalent tariff is however unavoidable to compensate for the labour cost difference with countries with lower labour costs and equivalent technological capacity such as Thailand. The current government subsidy is about $500 million p.a. for all three manufacturers but this is paid back to the Australian economy about five times over through extra economic activity that otherwise would not exist. The industry and its employees pay much more tax per annum than the subsidy.

  6. mark delmege

    Both Holden and Toyota explicitly blamed FTA’s.

  7. Trevor Vivian

    Free Trade Agreements are not Fair Trade based.

    Therein lies the crux of the dissolution of workers employment at the alter of political expedience.

    Australian governments past and present place a higher precedence clothed as the National interest so as to sell so called Free Trade Agreents to a pliable partisan electorate.

    The present Abbott led Commonwealth Government continues in a well worn path of focus group led political expediency in its Free Trade Agreements whichs remain hidden in secrecy gfrom the Electorate.

  8. abbottania

    I’ve been on about unfair FTAs for years, have even written senators and so worth for naught (still do though). The TPP under Mr Cadbury will be giving into conditions Labour and even Howard didn’t and wouldn’t have had a bar with. His pre-occupation with FTAs at any cost is just more proof of his Davros credentials and wrecking ball mentality.

  9. Dissenter

    Yes. WHat a great article ANdreas. I noted that Toyota wrote that the FTAs were a significant reason on their statement but you are the first to write about it to my knowledge.
    It is about time that THE SCAMS that ABBOTT government are running are EXPOSED.

  10. Zathras

    We have never had a serious public discussion about the effects of FTAs in this country. The American FTA for example, damaged our beef industry and even led to our blood supplies being controlled and administered by a dodgey US Corporation which was publicly named and shamed by the US Congress for unacceptable practices.

    Now we are being signed up to the mysterious TPP in which the public are not allowed to know the details but corporations are.

    Expect all sorts of horrors in the years ahead.

  11. Howard Miller

    It is in the Nation’s future financial and military security to have the equipment and trade skills to manufacture all the components and mechanisms to supply our own population in time of war.
    Australia has been caught with it’s pants down, beaming it’s fat ass at least twice on the past, like some transvestite selling itself at the street corner. In their education, our current run of no hoper wanabe politicians appear to have no national pride, no sense of why tens of thousands of Australia’s finest manhood lay down their lives in mortal combat to protect the right of Australians to have meaningful employment and to “make” items that regular Australians need on a day to day basis. This was aside from preventing the Australian population becoming slaves in an Asia we are never going to want to be a part off. That;s right we wanted to be Australian, a stramge thing called National Pride.
    Our current political rabble, be they left or right wing seem to have x’d out this fundamental need and right from our workforce without even asking them.
    I become amazed at the apathy in our community, where outright liars and fools are tolerated and so much time and energy is wasted in argument and gossip in an effort to get women into highly paid employment and politics, while the nation slides down the black hole of overwhelming debt to overseas manufacturers.
    We need one vibrant car manufacturer on the Australian mainland and we need to get rid of most of the imported rubbish currently being peddled by the snake oil salesmen/women who currently run the car sales industry.
    Send the current politicians back to the child care centres and let their mummy’s wipe their snotty noses. Did you expect anything but scams from an Abbott government.
    Are you happy to live in TOILET BOWL Australia ?
    What happens when those overseas interests who already own the country pull the chain?

  12. Stephen Tardrew

    I am so angry at this incredibly stupid behavior by the right and left. I can only concur with what most have said here. I am absolutely astounded at the apathy of sending 50,000 people to the unemployment line.

    Having worked many years in the welfare sector I know exactly what is in store for many of these workers who will loose their houses, and in some cases families; who will suffer incredibly family distress; who will feel depressed and worthless, who will turn to drug and alcohol, who will be the victim of domestic distress and even violence, whose families will fracture and fall a part; whose anger will eat at them only to become depression and despair; who will possibly not work for a long time to come if ever; who will have to survive for years on a pittance and what of those those few who will be driven to suicide. Count the cost you fools.

    As for the impact upon children it can be devastating to see their father’s confidence gradually slide as things get worse and their standard of living take a big dive. The faceless monsters of capitalism will shrug and say it has to be this way.

    No it does not.

    Kennedy sent men to the moon while we sit by and snivel because it is too damn hard. There is no way you could convince me that a cross party alliance to save the industry was not possible and that we do not have the skill and courage to find a manageable solution. There are multiple pathways of possibility in any situation that could be mapped and explored. If the goal is to succeed at all cost then it can be done.

    Bah what a crock of crap. This defeatist attitude in a sophisticated technical society is criminal. Such a bunch of wimps with a complete lack of confidence in our ability to succeed. There is a large component of antisocial behavior in a society that so willingly causes untold suffering to its citizens and economy just for ideological purity. These people are fascist ideologues.

    The foxes are in control control of the hen house.

    If I see Abbot, Hockey and their ilk smirk one more I think I will throw up.

    If you care more about the corptocracy rather than your citizens then you have failed your brief as a politician.

    To blame the workers of this country when you hold the reigns of power is just plain cowardice. A bunch of antisocial personalities who do not give a shit. If you loved and cared for your fellow citizens this would never be allowed to happen.

    There is no excuse.

    Cowardice and incompetence. We can do what we want to do and it sure looks like the government does not want to do anything.

    This vile cabala of elites lack confidence, insight, creativity and moral fortitude.

  13. Stephen Tardrew

    I should have said fathers and mothers sorry for that.

  14. revolutionarycitizen

    Stephen I can understand where you’re coming from, I can.

    But, it was never our automotive industry, none of the companies that have chosen to leave Australia were Australian. The decision to close Holden wasn’t made in Australia, neither was the decision to close Ford, those decisions were made in Detroit, and for the sole benefit of parent company.

    The moment GM filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in the US of A Holden’s days were numbered, and as GM stated quite unequivocally, no level of government assistance would have changed their mind. It was a condition of US Government assistance that GM restructure its business, that included the closure of loss making arms, and Holden hasn’t made a real profit in quite some time.

    In reality the transition away from car making should have been done man years ago, in reality Australia should have gone a lot further in economic restructuring in the early 1990s.

    If you want to save our economy, you need to support things like land-use rationalisation, direct government capital investment in start-up business’, the wholesale rewriting of educational courses in business and business management, increased limitations on board members serving on numerous boards, coupling managerial remunerations with those of their employees and imposing qualification and experience requirements on politicians and department heads, and generally decoupling government from the economy.

    Economic subsidisation is lazy policy, and expensive, just ask the Americans, where the last farm subsidy bill was $955B…

  15. Stephen Tardrew

    Thanks Revo I get the point however we are lacking innovation and forethought and at some point the whole left right business needs to stops so that we can find a consensus solution. There is something about seeing the face of pain and suffering that is more than political rhetoric and bland detached disinterest.

  16. revolutionarycitizen

    “Thanks Revo I get the point however we are lacking innovation and forethought and at some point the whole left right business needs to stops so that we can find a consensus solution. There is something about seeing the face of pain and suffering that is more than political rhetoric and bland detached disinterest.”

    One of the things we’re lacking is the idea of “economy with purpose”, the idea of the left that the economy should exists subservient to the wills of the people through the controls of the welfare state doesn’t work because it leads to interventionist policies that are BS, and the opposite is also BS, an economy that exists only for perpetual wealth creation as espoused by many capitalists on the right only leads to capital stagnation and separation, which distorts the system till it fails.

    People as individuals and collectives need to work toward something that can be articulated, envisioned and achieved.

  17. scotchmistery

    One of the greatest problems with any free trade agreement is that under normal the offences particularly where they exist between Australia, with its predisposition to selling the farm and its Asian counterpart where it’s impossible to buy even one square metre of land, is the enormous need of each successive Australian government to be seen to be “friends” with whoever they are currently negotiating the FTA.

    Take into account the various FTA’s into Asia, is the inequity of the sale. An Australian businessman can go into Thailand and build a company from scratch with his own money but he is only allowed to own 49% of it. The other 51% must be Thai citizens and under normal circumstances, unless things have changed in the last few years, none of those Thai citizens can be held accountable should they decide to take off with the money. The Australian on the other hand, will be held fully responsible should any of the Thais lose money.

    I have often thought that as long as our governments continue to sell farmland especially outrageous amounts like that of Cubby Station, we will be a source of huge humour to the Asian countries who will not under any circumstances sell dirt to foreigners. They will allow you to be a party to a business which invests in a piece of land, but again there is a 49% limit and there is absolutely nothing to stop the Thais from stealing it from you and they will be backed up by their government and their court system.

    Possibly one of the most telling things I ever heard the foreigner say when I lived in Thailand was if you want to make a small fortune in Thailand, you start off with a large one.

  18. Anomander

    And now we have Scabbott and his mates all prepared to sign another, even more dangerous, free trade agreement – the TPP. One that includes ISDS provisions which will enable global multinationals to sue our government for any action that impinges upon their perception of “free trade”.

    An agreement that will see even more jobs being off-shored as business seek to reduce labour costs. Unemployment will rise at the same time government reduces services and introduces austerity measures. Even more subsidised imported goods will be dumped onto our market – destroying our own local industries. Environmental and employee protections will be eroded. Big business will seek to undermine industrial restrictions by importing cheap labour via 457 visas and ultimately our economy and society will be worse-off for many decades to come.

    But it’s OK, the wealthy mates of the Libs will be well looked after with their taxes slashed, their profits increased dramatically and our assets handed to them at bargain basement prices.

  19. diannaart

    Where were/are the plans for the future, LNP or Labor. Where?

    Factory production lines are just to moulder away unused?

    Where are the retraining schemes in place? Or move towards manufacturing 21st century technologies?

    What is the point of either Labor or Liberals if all they do is govern after the fact instead of providing some vision and leadership?

    OK, we can vote every 3 years – what I would like to see is a yearly audit on governments – a performance review. Workers have to undergo such evaluations every 6 months – when are we really going to hold our governments to account?

  20. revolutionarycitizen

    “The LNP will still play the blame game and point the finger at LABOR … ”

    Why shouldn’t they? If the show was on the other foot I can guarantee you that the ALP would be doing the exact same.

    The ALP had 6 years to restructure the automotive industry, and they didn’t. The ALP had 6 years to find new industrial opportunities for Australian business, and all it managed to do was lose one manufacturing job every 19 minutes.

    To watch some tool on Q&A last night gloat that we make wing-tips for Boeing in Australia, which completely ignores that Boeing USA is making the rest of the aircraft and a great deal more money doing it, and what we’re earning making wing-tips is lunch money compared to what Boeing makes selling missiles.

    Australia has comprehensively failed to think big, not only that, it has failed to embrace value added industries and has actively priced many others out of the game.

    You want well paid workers in the union dominated field of metals, that’s fine, but the one thing you don’t do is support the imposition of a direct tax on the emissions of the business and a rapid rise in energy cost through a direct tax on that as well. Making aluminium is incredibly energy intensive and an area Australia should dominate is the production of aluminium, aircraft quality aluminium alloys and titanium alloys, that is big money industries that can pay workers well, industries we’ve never invested in or now closed because we took easy policy options to placate one interest group or another.

  21. Peter Hamrol

    The LNP will still play the blame game and point the finger at LABOR … Why people vote for a government who takes no responsibility, keep their actions secret and are not transparent is beyond me … They must be masochistic in their nature … Pity, Australia is now spiralling towards economic disaster … I guess that the derailment by the current government has to be remedied after the 2016 Federal elections when the LNP will be shown the door of defeat …

  22. Gilly

    Just one point, it is the Mazda 2 not the 3, 2013 model, that is manufactured in Thailand. It is important to be careful that the example of the commercial media is not followed.

  23. Tony

    You know I do not really know the ins and outs of who is to blame for this but you ask what really killed car manufacturing in Australia? Here is a very simple story for you that may provide you with the answer. In 1995 I went to purchase my first car. Fresh out of high school the Corollas where selling for 26K, yes 26K. The Toyota rep said that the corollas where up market cars now. What a load of rubbish. Holden Barinas for around 18K and the ford small car option for around the 20K mark. Just like the property market there was little chance a young person was going to afford that amount of money to buy a new car. Then along comes Hyundai. I bought a little ripper for 13K brand new. How excited I was driving around in a new car for 13K. Then very quickly the rest started to follow. Much to there disapproval that someone has come into the market and undersold them. Told them that your cars are too expensive. Told them to pick up there anti. Told them that you are ripping off the Australian public. Told them that the Aussie public are not fools. Very quickly these big guys who had been around ripping off the Aussie public all of a sudden were crying foul and had to work hard for our loyalty. All I can say is thank you to the person who let Hyundai into our market. For that I now only drive Hyundai cars and cars that I believe I get good value from in relation to both price and service. 2 aspects the big 3 failed when I was there for the picking.
    Looks to me like I was not the only one……..
    Owe and by the way, the money I saved by buying the Hyundai in 1995 I invested into a small start up business. A business now that very happily is Australian owned and gives back to the economy more then I could have imagined.

  24. unbiased

    Or maybe if Australia built cars that we want for a decent price people would buy them.
    Over a decade ago, foreign cars weren’t developed very well for our country, and that used to show (remember how bad Hyundai’s and Kia’s used to be for example).

    Nowadays the quality and value of offshore cars are as good, if not better than what we produce here. Why should I, or other Australian’s pay more for an inferior product? No matter how much a government throws at a company, if they produce inferior products they’ll get low sales. We are all about competition being good for industry, but when the competition outdoes us we place blame in areas that may not be relevant.

  25. Andreas Bimba

    ‘Gilly’, thanks for pointing out the serious error about the Mazda 3, it’s hard to keep up with this shell game but an error is an error. Australia sources the Mazda 3 from Japan even though the Mazda 3 is also made in Thailand. Worse still I stuffed up with the Toyota Corolla as well, ughhh. The 11th generation Toyota Corolla will come from Thailand starting from February 2014. The Corolla figures I list would therefore be from Japan sourced Corolla’s.

    I also should have added the Malaysia Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) which entered into force on 1 January 2013 when Julia Gillard was PM.

    The following 2013 models were sourced from Thailand: Toyota Hilux (39,931 units) Mitsubishi Triton (24,512 units), Nissan Navara (24,108 units), Ford Ranger (21,752 units), Ford Focus (? units), Ford Fiesta (? units), Honda Civic small sedan (? units), Mazda BT50 (? units), Holden Colorada (? units), Isuzu D-Max (? units).

    Total Thailand sourced vehicle sales for the Australian 2013 market was 228,479 units which compares to total Australian made vehicle sales of only 118,510 units. Reference GoAuto.

    Also ‘Cap Hill Pretender’ makes the very relevant point that with the tiny 5% tariff currently in place, the FTA’s now have very little impact on vehicle imports. A 5% tariff can easily be absorbed by foreign suppliers.

    For Australia to have a meaningful automotive manufacturing industry a tariff of at least 10% appears to be essential and no free trade agreements should ever undercut this.

  26. Jeff Regan


  27. Dean

    The Button plan in action. Its what Button wanted in 1984. GO Labor!!! Well done.

  28. Greg

    Our car industry was given Duty Offsets against exports. This allowed Ford to import rebadged Mazda’s and sell them for thousands under the Mazda price. It also meant the end of BTM Tubemakers as they imported axles and drivelines as well. BTM supplied chassies for Landrover for the Army contract and we had to resource them.
    Rudd was going to change the FBT to stop yuppies driving BMW’s but instead, killed the leasing industry and car sales overnight. Why weren’t Aussie made vehicles exempted and Imported vehicles subject to FBT? All the 4 door utes from Thailand are goods carrying, sedans for the family, ute for moving stuff and able to tow the boat – and FBT free !!! No wonder we imported 100k of them yet only sold 3k Ford utes and 4k Holden utes.
    Imported vehicles were subject to Duty, so if it was 5% on 200,000 vehicles @ $50k average = $500 million collected by the Government. Where is all this lost income coming from now?
    The FTA’s are not in our favour and our manufacturing will die.
    If they were fair, then I have no problems.

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