Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Manufacturing a Vital Sector

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Manufacturing a Vital Sector

Article excerpt

TODAY it is hard to imagine the world in which Steam Locomotive 106 was built.

To think, we made stuff not only in Australia, but right here in Toowoomba and the Downs.

This beautiful piece of machinery was built at the Toowoomba Foundry in 1915 for Queensland Rail. It is rightly labelled "The Pride of Toowoomba" and is being brought back to its former glory at DownsSteam.

If you get a chance I urge you to visit. Truly one of our region's hidden treasures. The reason I raise this here is that just last week Holden / General Motors announced that they would cease making cars in 2016.

Now it would be simplistic and a cheap shot to play the "Who killed Holden" game. From all accounts our federal member did all that he could to keep Holden a going concern in South Australia.

It seems that a small domestic market, a high Australian dollar and the relative high cost of production all played a role.

And for those out there wringing your hands, check to see if you have an Australian made car in your garage.

Put crudely it seems that the government was giving Holden money to make cars that very few of us were buying.

I'm not an economist's keyboard but here are a few figures I've gleaned. The car industry has been given something like $19billion in handouts and tariff protection over the past decade.

At the moment the mining industry gets about $3billion a year as part of the diesel fuel rebate.

This makes the $400million a year for the car industry look quite small. Most countries with a car industry give support from the public purse.

In Australia, our contribution per head of population is something like $US18. In Germany the figure is $90, in the US, $96 and in Sweden $334.

I won't pretend there are easy solutions and I wish our local Member and Minister for Industry Mr Macfarlane every success in what is a very tough gig.

It is not good enough to suggest that the workers can simply move to the mines. …

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