Toyota’s decision to stop making cars in Australia has prompted the nation’s automotive component suppliers to warn that they urgently need government assistance to stop massive job losses.
The Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers president Jim Griffin says as many as 28,000 people work in the supply sector, representing far more than the major car makers, and the majority of workers in the industry.
Toyota announced on Monday it would stop making cars in Australia by late 2017, following Holden and Ford’s decisions to do the same, ending local car manufacturing.
Mr Griffin, the CEO of Melbourne component suppliers Diver Consolidated Industries (DCI), said as well as job losses within three years the economy would lose valuable technology, research and development.
“Unless we get some stimulation, unless we get some volume and we get some activity happening in manufacturing then the country’s going to have a very big problem,” he told AAP.
Mr Griffin is worried the three major car makers will actually cease their Australian operations before their planned closures in 2016-2017.
“General Motors, Ford and Toyota will look after their employees,” Mr Griffin told AAP.
“Any (government) assistance needs to be considerate of the vast majority of employees which are in components sectors … many of them in small companies, tier two or three suppliers that are not huge foreign multinationals.
“The most important thing now is for a very calm and clear discussion and consultation between the government, the three car makers and the component industry to make sure that any programs and assistance packages rolled out are well considered, measured and well targeted.”
He said his company DCI had started diversifying away from cars and towards other areas, such as trident workbenches, but conditions were difficult in manufacturing generally and government assistance would buy time to reorganise or close.
“Today is another terrible day and it ups the ante because we are looking at the the demise of the complete industry and the network behind it,” he said.
“What else is there for them to do?”