Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is the position of Holden, Ford, and others, the sign of things to come in Australia?

If you work at Holden in Australia or one of the companies that contribute to the manufacture of this iconic Aussie car then you you can be forgiven for feeling more than a little uncomfortable with the impending demise of the whole car industry in your country. We have seen it before and we are starting to hear rumblings from Toyota about their manufacturing presence in Australia. Has this not been obvious for quite some time? Without generous government subsidies to the above companies, the situation would have been done and dusted years ago, just like happened in New Zealand, albeit on a smaller scale.
I am saddened by the prospect re the looming job losses and the skill packages that goes with them. Why has this happened? It comes down to profit, nothing else; the fact that other manufacturing bases can make the same ‘products’ for considerably less is the main driving force. What has delayed the process is the willingness of successive governments (in NZ and Australia) to pour in money to keep these businesses in place.
What has also changed is the ‘unwillingness’ of the public to pay higher prices for cars and other products. They would rather have a sector of society unemployed and receive the benefits of cheaper cars than dig into their pockets for yet more subsides to keep the jobs in Australia. Now that there is a new ‘market-orientated government inhabiting the corridors of power in Australia, we will see the demise of many industries. They don’t care about the losses that will ensue for society as a whole. Why would they; they are simply part of the trough that feeds the same shareholders and companies, whatever country they originate from.
The blame for this situation cannot be left with them alone however. China the now fully emerged giant, has made changes that cannot be reversed. Millions of people from the countryside have moved to the huge cities and they work in conditions that many in the ‘West’ would not consider fair or even legal. But is you are one of those working in such conditions, you would hardly complain, because the choices are limited; stay in the countryside on a tiny farm, eking out a living (it used to be huge state farms) or try your chance at the new life in the city. Yes, there is an emerging middle class that is going to become more strident in its demands for a better life but these ting take time. That ‘percolator’ of human rights struggle will eventually make gains, perhaps purely because Chinese society is ‘aging;’ meaning fewer workers in the future. The ramifications of that may be that the massive movement in China will be matched in other near neighbours in Asia and elsewhere, and the ball will begin to roll in new directions.
Either way, the process of ‘reindustrializing’ in Australia will continue. It has only just begun and the future is unknown. I very much doubt that those who have jobs at the moment will see a ‘bigger picture; one that would involve a return to the past where more are employed but payment will be less, along with prices that they would reject for the goods they buy that seem so essential.
History has taught us many lessons and nothing remains constant except human greed for the things we perceive as ‘needs’ not ‘wants.’ There will be more Australian companies going to the wall and more China’s entering the stage. Those at the top will as usual come out smelling of roses. This is as it has always been, at any time in history, in any country. It is just the labels, names and regional differences that do the ‘makeovers.’

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