The end of Australian manufacturing

The future of manufacturing in Australia looks particularly bleak.

General Motors sought an extra $80 million per annum for the seven years from 2016 to 2022, this was in addition to the $40 million promised under the Automotive Transformation Fund and the $275 million over seven years which had already been committed by state and federal governments. This additional $80 million per annum would have resulted in a total of $1.1 billion assistance to Holden over a period of seven years. If the company shut down before 2023, the extra $80 million would have had to be repaid. This request was made at a meeting on the 2October 2013 in Adelaide attended by Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and South Australian Manufacturing Minister, Tom Kenyon and Holden Managing Director Mike Devereux.

Meanwhile, Australian components manufacturers, unless they can tap into the replacement parts markets, post Holden, will battle to survive with only Toyota remaining in the country. Alternatively they can try to rise above the cripplingly high Australia dollar and secure export orders. One company that appears to be bucking the overall gloom is Dayco Australia, based in Wagga, NSW. It’s expanding its modest workforce, but is US owned since Precision Parts sold out to the US-based Dayco last September. Also last September,  ocally owned Futuris, who successfully supply General Motors and Ford in China and Thailand with car seats and interiors, fell to US private equity company Clearlake Partners. Meanwhile, L & L products, another US owned company has developed a market supplying acoustic insulation to BMW from its Dandenong South factory.

These largely foreign-owned components suppliers are the exception and, according to Richard Reilly, Chief Executive of the Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers, most companies in the automotive supply chain can’t afford to spend the necessary time overseas to establish new export market s and will, therefore, be unable to make the necessary transition. Furthermore, the multi-national component makers who are currently in Australia will now be reviewing their operations here. The small number of Australian-based manufacturers who can exploit the export market have already done so and the rest have probably, literally, missed the boat, according to Mr Reilly

Read more: Australian Financial Review, Friday 13 December 2013

Opinion: Is it just a question of leadership

Christmas and the New Year can be a time for stocktaking and reflection – a natural pause between our artificial division of time; the calendar year.

For Australia, 2013 has been pretty turbulent, seeing no fewer than three prime ministers, a new federal government which is, after its first 100 days, looking and sounding more like an opposition, and not enjoying the traditional honeymoon period, the waning of the mining boom and the continuing erosion of the country’s manufacturing base. As if to emphasise this litany of negativity, we saw the last sitting week of federal parliament coincide with the Treasurer Joe Hockey and Prime Minister Tony Abbott challenging General Motors to pull out of Australia and the car maker responding by announcing that local manufacturing of Holdens would cease in 2016.

Now, an Aussie icon such as Holden can give rise to a fair amount of emotion but let’s be a bit more rational. Holden were ‘Australian’ in name only; the decisions were always made in Detroit at GM’s global head office. As with so much of the contemporary Australian economy, we are the marionette that dances to the puppet masters in New York, Tokyo, Singapore, London, Paris or even Auckland. The original Adelaide coach makers, Holden and Frost, became Holden Motor Body Builders in 1918 merging with GM early in the 1930s Great Depression. Does anyone stop to consider that if Holden had not merged with GM or Lloyd Hartnett, who left GM Holden as MD, to set up a new Australian motor manufacturer Hartnett, at the behest of Prime Minister Ben Chifley, had been able to raise the necessaries here, we may well have had a truly locally owned car maker headquartered in Australia? It’s a similar story with Toyota. Whether this company stays or closes its Fishermans Bend operations will be ultimately decided not here but at head office in Tokyo. This list goes on; Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan and, for those of us with longer memories, Nuffield/Leyland who at one stage, like Holden, dominated the local commercial and passenger vehicle market. And this steady, inexorable erosion of local manufacturing is not confined to the motor industry. How often do you hear the lament, “we no longer make anything here?”

And why does this matter? If someone else, somewhere else, can produce the same widget for less, then why would we purchase, normally for considerably more, the local equivalent, assuming you can still do so? There are two very fundamental reasons why Australia needs a strong manufacturing sector with majority local ownership and, hence, control. Firstly, those who can recall the darkest days of WWII may also remember how local factories were placed on a war-footing and, cut off from our traditional great and powerful friends, we switched from consumer products to a vast array of the essential war materials needed by an isolated nation. In the 1940s we had those factories and’, perhaps more importantly, the requisite skilled workforce. Today, the automotive industry is an essential building block for the high-tech skills we would require if any future external crisis disrupted our drip-dependence on foreign manufacturers.

The second reason is that once the manufacturing infrastructure and the attendant skilled workers are lost, they are gone for good. History demonstrates and economics confirm the unlikelihood of large scale manufacturing operations, which can take decades to develop, ever being recreated in this country.

The year also ended with the new Coalition government rejecting the US owned ADMs takeover of Graincorp but smoothing the path for Canadian owned Saputo to swallow-up one of the last remaining dairy co-ops, Warrnambool Cheese & Butter. Even something as basic as canning our own fruit and vegetables is in the hands of two foreign owned companies, Simplot and McCain who nevertheless bleat that, without government assistance, they cannot compete with cheap foreign imports. Meanwhile, in Orange the last domestic whitegoods manufacturer, Swedish owned Electrolux, has announced that its shutting down.

The so-called ‘level playing field’ is economic nonsense and Australia is criminally naive to continue to support such a fiction.

What do you think?

Do you think it matters that Australia no longer makes anything?

Will we and future generations just bumble through by importing everything we need?

Is it ok to say “no” to foreign takeovers of our local companies?


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    31st Dec 2013
    Yes it is a question of leadership. As sorry as I am to see so many workers lose their jobs and many more to go, the leadership of those organisations involved should have over the years been looking to diversify their production. The responsibility is with those who did not expand / diversify to protect their business.
    The best indication of Leadership was by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who took the decision to no longer support the financial gains of an American company.

    When we as a country are facing tough times why should we pander to the overseas giants who have raked millions from our country?

    With proper planning and execution this country can produce alternative industries to replace Holden and so increase our independence. Maybe the facilities vacated by Holden could be used to establish or rather re-establish a defence weapons manufacturing facility which would then again remove us from the constrictions of international supply.

    I believe that the Abbott government have shown the ability to think outside the square and that they may well turn this into a plus for our great country.
    Tom Tank
    31st Dec 2013
    You must be on a different planet with these thoughts. There is no way we can establish a defence weapons manufacturing industry here. Our manufacturing is gone and with the soon to be announced, by the Abbot Government, of a free trade deal with China, we can buy whatever weapons we need from them at a cheaper price.
    Economic rationalism led to Globalisation which is really the ultimate in Capitalism which will see us, the people, ruled by Multi-National companies.
    We have let this happen due to apathy and a lack of vision on our own parts by letting politicians do this to us, especially right wing pollies.
    31st Dec 2013
    . . . . . ."Government is a dangerous servant & a fearful master" . . .

    Let's get off our ASSES now whilst we (may be hust) still can
    31st Dec 2013
    Dougie; I've copied and pasted your comment because that is where we should be looking; develop our food bowl in particular; the world will always need food.

    No not dreaming Geek just a pragmatic realist. Do the things we do well ie. design and planning. Invest in this and our scientists and then develop the idea. This is where funding should go. Hold onto our ideas and inventions and do not let our top scientists and engineers be lured overseas.
    Develop our food bowl and sell them to the hungry hordes at our price. Hawke committed us to free trade and now we have to insist that we get the best result for Australia.
    31st Dec 2013
    "EXPAND" could be the steak in the heart of manufacturing.
    AND A HOSTILE POLITICAL & BANKING ARENAS HAS KILLED not only manufacturing, but all business, that is for certain.
    This did not need to happen - the, China is a cheaper place to manufacture story is a SAVING OF FACE STORY after a COCKUP = poor judgement & bad decision making.
    There are no BABY BOOMERS it was just a "cry poor scam" & a "syphon off, of monies opportunity" by government at large.
    Business future predictions always forecast a bigger & better - which must mean a more $$$ in pocket - population.
    Did no one take into account that people are not only born along the way.
    But that they also DIE along the way = dead customers.
    In the US 2.500 people die every day, of cancer, more die of heart related diseases, people die every day, let us count the multitude of ways.
    oops !
    HENCE there is an over supply - a bottleneck type scenario - to many good - to expensive etc...........
    The clowns have been at work here !
    Also everyone knows DO NOT PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET should be a rule of thumb, don't you reckon ?
    Why not - & therefore you shape your business accordingly - YOU GO LEAVE - YOU GO & FIND A MORE USER-FRIENDLY & WELCOMING PLACE TO SET UP YOUR BUSINESS
    31st Dec 2013
    Thank you Sen.cit.84. You at least seem to have the capacity to understand where we are and where we should be going. As a country we are just as big a food bowl as we are an open cut to extract and send overseas half of our country. Let us develop the water that we waste, let us use the purified waste water for irrigation. Presently we pump it all to see, why not pump it inland to grow crops and other rural products such as lucerne etc. The water that runs away in Queensland and pollutes the Barrier Reef could be piped south and used to supply city water storages when required or for irrigation when not required for human use. We have an immense country with immense potential that is untapped. I may be old and I may be infirm in some ways but I can see the value of many things. An example is Twiggy Forrests grandfather who piped water to the goldfields and was criticised to the point he took his own life. That water is still the lifeblood of the WA Goldfields. What about the Snowy River Scheme or the Murray Darling irrigation. All the product of dreamers but look at them now. Move aside those who want to stagnate our country and let those who will - have a go.
    4th Jan 2014
    Dougie - You're suffering from some serious history confusion. John Forrest, Premier of W.A., oversaw the installation of the Mundaring to Kalgoorlie pipeline (the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme) - but the engineer who designed and oversaw the pipelines construction was the New Zealander, Charles Yelverton O'Connor.

    O'Conner was the man who took his own life after constant harrassment and overwork.
    Frederick Vosper, politician and editor of the Perth Sunday Times, was the person who continuously attacked O'Connor over his pipeline "folly" - and Vosper is reported as largely contributing to O'Connors suicide.

    However, O'Connor was also attacked continuously by many others, worried about the huge pipeline debt - and Vosper died 14 mths before O'Connor - and O'Connor went to Vospers funeral.

    The problem was the incredible cost of the pipeline project - £2,500,000 in 1890 dollars, an amount equal to approximately $1,000,000,000,000 ($1 trillion) today - at a time when the W.A. population was only 148,000 people.

    We have people screaming today that we cannot afford an NBN that is reputed to cost over $40B - yet we have 22,000,000 people to pay for it, and we'll get over 100 yrs use from the NBN.

    The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme was repaid 500 times over by the vast quantities of gold recovered from the W.A. Goldfields - and which gold production has helped give us our great national wealth today.

    A side benefit of the GWSS was that many country W.A. towns and farms were also supplied with scheme water, thus alleviating the regular water shortages experienced by those towns and farmers.

    You're correct, of course, in that we need politicians and people with the ability to propose nation-building schemes that ensure our future energy and water security, and prosperity.
    I'm afraid, however, we won't find them amongst the mealy-mouthed, self-interested people we have running the nation today.
    6th Jan 2014
    Aaron I apologize for my past scathing remarks regarding your travels, but after your latest post hereafter I will despite your"admiration "of anyone famous, pay closer attention to your posts.
    31st Dec 2013
    yur dreaming Dougie!
    31st Dec 2013
    Agree Jurassic,

    The BANKERS would never allow it to happen!
    31st Dec 2013
    No not dreaming Geek just a pragmatic realist. Do the things we do well ie. design and planning. Invest in this and our scientists and then develop the idea. This is where funding should go. Hold onto our ideas and inventions and do not let our top scientists and engineers be lured overseas.
    Develop our food bowl and sell them to the hungry hordes at our price. Hawke committed us to free trade and now we have to insist that we get the best result for Australia.
    31st Dec 2013
    I think the first thing to acknowledge is that when something is foreign owned, the business is at the mercy of the foreign ownership. When times get tough, small markets will go first - that means Australia! Decisions will always be made in foreign interests and the foreign owner's bottom line.

    The second thing is Australian manufacturers need to make things that Australians want to buy. Part of Holden's problem was that people did not want the product. Price may have been one factor but certainly not the only one. The cars simply weren't as good as others. Emotional attachment (brand loyalty?) only goes so far. What matters is that people want to buy it and the product fits the purpose.

    There are countless examples of products being available overseas and not here even from Australian companies. Case in point - Breville make a personal blender (all the rage just now), the Blend Active, sold widely in the UK for under thirty pounds. This gadget from Breville (an Australian company!) - is not available here. Kambrook (part of Breville Group) does have a local product (made in China) at around $50 but it is unavailable and outlets have no idea when they will be getting more stock. Meanwhile an advertised similar product - Nutri bullet- sold in the USA for between $50 and $100 USD (including in Target) is imported here for a 'deal' of over $280 AUD -three times the price of the USA and six time the local unavailable product.This example is what will happen in future. People will get sucked in to cheap products, local manufacturers will close then the cheap overseas product will increase in price and there will be no alternative and no local manufacturing.
    So, local manufacturers need to spend more on finding out what people want and how they want to use it then make them, develop products people don't know they want/need yet (that's what Apple did/do) and then sell here AND overseas because it is a good product and everyone wants it.

    The last thing is to stop selling Australian assets to all who come knocking. We should absolutely not be selling our food and water sources. If other countries want our products then buy them like everyone else. Australia may be 'open for business' but that should not mean come and buy the land, the companies and infrastructure. It should mean come and try our products, see our expertise and then purchase our goods and services for a fair price.
    4th Jan 2014
    KSS - Spot on. The car manufacturers such as Holden have failed to produce cutting edge technology, which is needed to stay in front, in todays world.
    They are merely intent on keeping the status quo - producing the same old engines they have produced for 110 yrs.

    We could easily be driving around with new design engines that would be light, powerful, and vastly more fuel efficient.
    Instead, we are still supplied with engines whose design has altered very little in 110 years.
    In 1922, an Australian inventor built an improved, crankless engine (the Michell Crankless engine) - and guess what? - he couldn't get support from manufacturers to put it into production.

    Part of the problem is that car manufacturers and oil companies share common directors. Do you really think we are going to get super-fuel-efficient cars with oil company directors on the board of car manufacturers?? Pigs will fly first.

    The CSIRO has done some wonderful research work on using capacitors to store electrical energy for electric cars. This gives the acceleration needed for stop-start city driving, and reduces the heavy power draw on batteries.

    So what has happened? Our wonderful politicians have cut CSIRO funding.
    The CSIRO has produced a wide range of world-beating ideas - that still earn us large royalties - from the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer, through to polymer banknotes, rabbit control, and contact lenses.

    Unless we continue to fund research and development of cutting edge technology, the Chinese will beat us to every scientific advancement.
    The U.S. Govt regularly funds private companies engaged in important research and development. WW2 saw major advances in technology that we still use today.

    If we sit back and just let the Chinese in, to mine all our minerals, take over all our farmland, and provide us with cheap junk on a daily basis, we will soon become the "poor white trash" of the Asian-Pacific region.

    What is worse, is that we are being regularly conditioned to accept trashier and trashier levels of quality - by the retailers, by the Chinese, and by overseas Govts support of their cheap-cost, but high-profit, manufacturing industries.
    31st Dec 2013
    Do I think what matters that Australia no longer makes anything???????? Well Yes this upset me to no end ......We had a rich country in the land down under..........our grandparents would be shocked to see what has happen...... especially back in our early days they worked bloody hard to Australia what it is..........Looking around our country now the government has also help destroyed our beautiful land ............selling off our Icons for the dollars.............What I like to see is to help save our Dairy Farmers, our Fruit and Vegs. before it too damm late to do thoughts and opinion only
    2nd Jan 2014
    We produce shitloads and make virtually nothing..therin lies our problem. So, as long as our fearless leaders (eg The Great Bat Eared Messiah) allow it to happen then very little will change ..we will just continue "giving away " our resources and our land...for almost nothing....
    31st Dec 2013
    We try to make things in Australia but the world does not want it except if they can take our fruit & veggies for next to nothing & sell them back to us prepared in a mixture of who knows what at an inflated cost that does nothing for our farmers who produce the products to start with.
    Cars as such are too dear if made here & usually some American company such as Ford or GM in charge at such a ridiculous rate of money that they are paid for nothing makes the costing ridiculously dear & gives us a bad name e.g. the cars cost too much. We can't expect our Government to keep paying them to lose more money we can't afford it. I feel sorry for those that are losing rheir jobs but there are a lot of others who have lost their jobs wether it be government or private who gives a damn about them?
    31st Dec 2013
    Spot on Unicorn; Our government would be better off investing in Water Conservation Control, also assisting AUSTRALIAN farmers to grow products on our vast lands to feed the worlds masses.
    31st Dec 2013
    There is ONE thing in Australia that to date the Multinational conglomerates do not own.
    It can be used both for farming to grow food (as China and Indonesia want to do here) and solar energy to run both residential homes and EV's (electric vehicles).
    If China and Indonesia can grow food here (and in all probability sell it back to us) using our water, why can't we do the same?
    If we can't afford Ford, Holden and Toyota we have the technology here.
    Two industries that could make a huge impact on our way of life, so why can't it happen?
    GREED! The moment we got or get anything up and running WE sell out!!
    31st Dec 2013
    Look around & see that one person drives around in a car that seats 2-4-5 persons.
    A couple need 2 X 1 seater cars to get around.
    LITTLE OLD ME - who will be 63 tomorrow
    Has always been a responsible driver
    I wrote to HOLDEN -
    Holden do not make one seater sports cars for old people - though they would go like hot cakes.
    What I would like is a go cart - the MAGNA STYER MILA'S little yellow/orange, eco-friendly, compressed natural gas, ( electric like the Holden Volt would be better) one seater sports car with a carrying bay for my walker & shopping - thank you !
    But HOLDEN are not interested in making cars for fun, even if it makes them money -
    The attitude seems to be "you'll take what you are give " great - The sooner they are all gone the sooner Australia can make cars - Australia has imagination mate wait & see.
    It's on the internet if you want to have a look.
    2nd Jan 2014
    yur dreaming too,Nightshade....
    1st Jan 2014
    Let's see if some clever Aussie can come up with plans for a complete new looking modern car! And build them here in Aussieland. Train our young apprentices wishing to have a motor trade - surely some of these new 'heads' can invent a new style of vehicle.
    2nd Jan 2014
    dougie - your definition of "leadership" must be quite 'special' if the govt orchestrated floorshow associated with the GMH debacle meets it
    The aussie manufacture of motor vehicles has been a bit of a joke for a while now and has become more of a joke with the incoming govt staggering from crisis to crisis and side-swiping this one in their hysterical adventures in mismanagement.
    The aussie industry is about assembly not manufacture - the minimal aussie-made input has been winding back over the years and 'badge-engineering' has been on the rise (badge engineering is importing things like the Holden Captiva from Hyundai and re-badging it )
    GM in USA makes their money selling parts/components to GMH-Australia. They do not care if or how much GMH profit may be - they have already profited from the inflated input cost to the aussie car. These inflated input costs have been an ongoing rort in the industry and has seen the ATO 'not willing' to pursue the matter of these inflated input costs - for nearly 20yrs to my knowledge.
    Either way, GM and GMH is so poorly managed that they could not/would not re-direct R&D or investment funds into alternate fuels/transport styles to innovate their way into the future - contrast their pitiful activities with European tech process.
    Once again, the 'productivity' of the nation has been adversely impacted by inept management - and the 'leadership' mutters darkly about the unions driving up wage and other costs - a convenient 'sell' and many commentators will accept it because they neither know any better nor care to inform themselves about the topic. Despite many, many indicators demonstrating the futility of their risk-averse investment strategies, these numpties have been unable to turn away from their lemming-like race to the cliff edge - despite examples all over the planet of how NOT to run manufacture.
    The aussie manufacture industry will never compete with the cost of labour overseas - our standard of living, quality of life values and history of providing a safe working environment prevent it.
    A friend of mine is doing a thesis on the number of lives it costs for us to buy products made cheaply overseas. His view is that while a product's carbon footprint can be readily available and traced easily - evaluating the 'human-life-cost' footprint is something else.....hhhmmmm
    Apparently we do business with companies overseas that do not keep records of mortality or injury rates in their facilities..(!)....nor are they required to under some of their 'local' govt regulation.......
    It would be interesting to see if the 'mortality footprint' of an item will be as big a seller as the 'carbon footprint' appears to be.......
    Manufacturing in Australia must target creativity, innovation and niche products made to the highest standard. In hard times you don't see the Porsche or Mercedes dealerships shut down. The rich will continue to get richer and will need new toys to spend their money on.
    The aussie sell point is around clean and green products using the highest-standard 'traditional' input commodities - we are still seen as one of the last frontiers of unspoilt food and commodity production.
    Something successive 'leadership' has been trying to destroy by allowing virtually unfettered access to dodgy GM products, dodgy import products and processes as well as dodgy food imports - while they slash funding to the services that monitor these same imports. Clever stuff ......
    Example - Non-GM (genetically modified) and organic products command premium prices throughout the world - and our 'cottage-industry' output is being exported from aussie across the planet at exorbitant prices to be delivered to individuals and businesses that can afford the difference.
    Our 'leadership' (raucous laughter ...hahahahah) should be providing support to grow and develop these industries - however they are actually doing the opposite - they are actually impeding the development of industry. .......
    Examples as follows......
    Kangaroo meat export - this industry has continued to grow (appallingly slowly) despite the best efforts of the farming industry and overseas competitors to destroy it. The MLA has finally realised they can't kill it so they have made some 'show' efforts to be seen to assist it.
    Organic red and white meat industry - still under threat from 'conventional' farm industry. Do not forget that the incoming govt has been funded by, and doing deals with, the various farming organisations for generations now and has become dependant their dollars and on keeping these 'traditional' farmers on-side
    Luxury items manufacture - artisans and innovators in aussie are making some of the finest, most in-demand jewellery, clothing, leather goods and other luxury products in the world. The 'traditional' luxury houses cannot afford competition (esp. in the growing china market) so they exert their influence on our 'leadership (hahahahaha....) to restrict the growth of the aussie producers. .......and our 'leadership' plays along......
    We place more restriction on access to industrial facility, finance, R&D and business communication for Australian companies than we do on multi-nationals. See how you go as an aussie growth company getting $50mill out of the govt to create aussie involvement in a growth industry - no problem if you're a mulit-national tho'......
    Classic example - Many years ago a fellow called Ralph Sarich invented a new style of engine. It was put into a vehicle and was being used as daily transport for his family and employees ie proven, workable technology with a simple transition into retro-fit and original-manufacture fit concepts.
    When he approached govt for assistance he was required to provide them with much and many technical details in support of his application. His application was refused but a US multi-national came to him (uninvited) with all the data he had given our govt in confidence (!) and offered him millions for just the fuel-injection component of his investment.
    Sarich refused and his ability to operate freely in Australia vanished - his mail was tampered with, his workshop was broken into and arson attempted. He hired bodyguards for himself and his family until - now paupered - he had to sell out to the US company. We now import that technology in outboard motors manufactured overseas......
    Senator John Button and Sarich were interviewed live and Sarich showed him to be lying and evasive on the topic regarding govt involvement (and lack of support for a potential billion-dollar aussie industry).....Sarich had committed to developing an industry based on the engine build and supply to the planet and had offered to share the patent rights with the govt - a better deal than the govt was getting anywhere....still refused....
    Aussie innovators continue to be impeded by successive Australian govts (fed and state) in developing outstanding products - this is just one example but its relevance to our current situation is immediately apparent.
    While our governments continue to act on behalf of overseas interests our self-reliance and capacity for self-determination will decline.
    We are persistently poorly served and represented by our 'leadership' and while we bicker, whinge and moan amongst ourselves we will continue to get the governments we deserve.
    2nd Jan 2014
    Maybe I do have a different view of "LEADERSHIP" to some but I still believe that Abbott showed this leadership when he indicated that we would no longer continue to support rape by American companies. Joe Hockey also excited the world when he declared GMH on. Let us be the great country we are and let the doubters continue their doubting. I believe that some of our greatest problems have been caused by so called academics who seem to want to govern by proxy by expanding on theories created by overseas fellow academics. These academics could not even see through the Y2K bug. Who made the money out of that little fiasco? If one likes to go back into history how many good ideas were put down by academia without even a trial to see if they would work. As for Ralph Sarich, I am yet to see his engine produced to a working model anywhere in the world, but at least he was given a go. His was a Public Company and sought funding through venture capital.
    You say we whinge and bitch and get the government we deserve - well how about giving the government we have a go?
    3rd Jan 2014
    You may have actually hit a nerve here dougie - on a couple of topics dear to my heart so we'll see how it turns out......
    Horse-feathers dougie - what we have seen from these gerberas is not leadership - it is quite the reverse. These clowns are simply doing what they are told.
    Abbot & Hockey - like any other pair of 'vested interest' pollies - will have been acting on their orders from the faceless men that really run the show - typically Nick Minchin et al for the current crop of wombles recently elected. They have simply provided GMH with a 'get out of jail free' card to exit Australia without imposing any significant commercial conditions on that exit. Not a bad day's work really - run a business into the ground funded by the govt then walk away free - when a number of 'exit-funding' possibilities have been ignored or kept away from public scrutiny ....nice work if you can get it
    Politicians - by definition - have no moral or ethical standards of any kind - example Abbot is still yet to appear in court on his fraud charges and has still not adequately responded to questions why he provided a character reference for a de-frocked priest (curiously this has received significantly less press attention than one might expect of such a high-profile case....hahahahaha)
    Please do not ask for 'consideration' or 'give them a go' for people who clearly have no concept of it themselves as they sweep away equity in schooling (our future ) and remove benefits to the least capable in our community to line the pockets of those who have 'discretionary income' adequate to take full advantage of the 'tax welfare' on offer.
    Their own words before the election set the agenda and activities against which they are judged now - and they are failing dismally to provide any evidence of competence in any form. ......indeed I would be interested to see the press comments these same antics would have attracted if perpetrated by the other side of politics while in power.........
    Hide the boats, Indonesian diplomacy, regional trade - these are all appalling object lessons in evasion, ignorance, poor advice, cultural ignorance and the general lack of skill set required to function at that level.
    Abbot is so used to obeisance to his superiors that his unctuous body language in company of foreign leaders is an embarrassment to watch.
    You may choose to filter your perceptions through the agenda/doctrine/press releases of your chosen political affiliations - as many do regardless of facts or information available from sources other than the 'approved' press - but the fact remains that the same tax-payers end up funding the abysmal 'leadership' skills these people exhibit in their chosen careers.
    It seems to me the demonstrated 'leadership' skill set we see most commonly 'leads' to lining the pockets of the friends of 'leadership' interests.
    I am commercially experienced and aware enough that most business profits are generated by what is most easily defined as 'insider trading'. Most people would accept that business is an ethics and morals-free zone.
    The issue is that our expectation - created by laborious and widespread repetition of the party lines - is that our pollies, in govt, will act (morally and ethically) in the best interest of the nation.
    It would appear that we now have the 'Murdoch politics' that has infected Gt Britain over the last few years - where it took the deaths of women and children and the outrage of the rich and famous to mitigate the influence of it on the British political system.
    Having disgraced himself out of GB he has now turned his attention to aussie politics and is determined to maximise his profits and interest in elitism to the detriment of the generosity of spirit for which our forebears struggled so hard.
    Back to Ralphy - Sarich did not get the kind of 'go' anything like we give the multi-nationals. The Sarich engine was in the company car (a ford cortina from memory) being driven around Perth for some time before the 'authorities' decided it needed to be removed from the road. It made more power for less emissions than any engine of the time - but was running at less than full-spec due to issues arising at peak performance levels. The materials required to manage the unique engine circumstance were still in their infancy and either experimental or expensive or both.
    For example - ceramic or other linings on limited-lubrication 'burn surfaces' (just ask the drag racing gurus) is not-uncommon technology today - 40yrs ago they were reserved for the multi-nationals only and Sarich remained - justifiably - suspicious of their involvement in his work.His expressed desire was to see aussies produce the engine for export for retro-fit and then their own line of vehicles produced around the engine - an engine that enabled a completely different motor vehicle configuration to what we see even now.
    It's important to remember that the multi-nationals are very poorly managed and are successful as a function of their size alone. While that makes them powerful it also makes them very, very susceptible to 'step-changes' in technology that 'bypass' their 'innovation by evolution' practices. Re-tooling and setup costs are poison to these people. Look at GM (USA) and their inability to stay with the European technology advance. Anyone who has driven an import Jeep/Dodge will see the deplorable state these vehicles are in technologically, handling, stability, braking fuel consumption - you name it. The few 'wins' they have are mostly due to the inclusion European engines/gearboxes etc in the US build....hahahaha
    In the mining game if someone has really stuffed up, screwed the pooch or created a disaster of biblical proportions through rank ignorance and stupidity - they are said to have "Bought a Jeep"....hahahahah....looks like we 'bought a jeep' in the last election....hahahahah
    Our govts (and I don't care what stripe these parasites may have on their backs) are comprised of self-serving creatures that desire power and influence - exactly the type of people who are not fit to wield either. They lack vision, courage and integrity of any kind. Imagine these numpties presented with things like the Kalgoorlie pipeline, the Snowy hydro-scheme, NDIS, Gonski, NBN.....hahahahah...those opportunities would never get off the ground with our current crop of spineless wonders.
    To me the principal act of courage I have seen by a politician in the last 30yrs would be Gillard's calling the Royal Commission into child abuse by the churches. Generations of male 'leadership' have allowed these vile institutions to prosper and grow, condoned within govt funded church communities that have never been called to account. Despite thousands of testimonies, thousands of reports we still have people like our PRIME MINISTER providing character references to them.....!!!!!......and you ask me to give these creatures a go as if I am expecting too much !!!
    Dougie - mate - I expect very, very little from our pollies and yet I am still surprised by how much less they actually manage to do for us.....
    As far as your comments around the academics - someone needs to finance them (and their research). The Y2K con you refer to was being laughed out of the tea rooms while the computer companies were selling the software to fix it - blame the advertising and a gullible market. The academics/computer gurus I spoke to at the time poured scorn on the concept and described it as 'an interesting market strategy'.....but it did sell some stuff and made some computer consultants a heap of dollars.....
    Reminds me of Costello's 'audit' of the Queensland economy that was being scorned by anyone qualified to speak on it - all the while the LNP were selling (with a compliant Murdoch press !) their justification for slashing and burning any services or system being provided to those least able to defend themselves.
    Inspirational 'leadership' indeed that led to police being injured, outnumbered and so poorly funded that their backup was unable to respond due to overtime bans. The same condition has recurred in Qld - this time not bikies hahahahaha - and the govt again has no 'leadership' with enough ticker to say - "Oops we may have cut a bit deep there I guess we actually do need coppers available" ......sad really.......
    3rd Jan 2014
    Oh dear, seems like I did just hit a nerve or two. You know Mining Magnet when I was a young lad just starting out in the commercial world, my immediate Manager said to me " Son, I want you to make decisions and stick by them, if 40% are correct then you will be average and I will support you ll the way, over that and you will be on your way in life". That is the attitude we should have today not whinge and whine. I did not support the Rudd- Gillard - Rudd governments but they had their way and even today I do not complain or arraign them. Nor do I support the Abbott government in every way but I am prepared to give them a go. Is not this the Aussie way?
    4th Jan 2014
    Mining Magnet - The HOLDEN CAPTIVA is not made by HYUNDAI - it's made by DAEWOO - which is now owned by GM, and now known as GM KOREA.

    However, I wouldn't let any actual truth or proper research, interfere with your good story-telling.

    You must be in the running for a parliamentary seat.
    4th Jan 2014
    Nice pick up Aaron - I had part of this conversation with a ford-tragic mate of mine who also corrected my comment re the source of the holden captiva 'badge-engineered' vehicle. Given it did not materially impact on the point under illustration to a mature audience(except perhaps to Daewoo and Hyundai owners/operators) I allowed it to pass - I stand corrected.
    Your comment furthers the point regarding input costs rorts and the ingenuity the multi-nats engage to exploit a supine government. What a shame they seem incapable of engaging that level of ingenuity to maintain a successful business for Australians.
    Your continued vigilance in pursuit of precision is eagerly anticipated.
    2nd Jan 2014
    "Shele" perhaps somebody could but why should they to be side stepped and go out of business such as a company which was Australian Made, employing australians started not that long ago producing Solar panels & guess what? They went broke because they were sent out of business by cheap imports, nobody could afford to give them a go we tried but could not afford to.
    2nd Jan 2014
    WOW! I came to Australia in 1948 and what a wonderful country it was. We lived with the things we made, and our Farmers did not have to be multi producers but we always had enough. Now unfortunately progressive governments have allowed everything to be sold to over seas companies and how heart breaking to find tinned Apricots from Africa and so many of the supermarket products are the same. Can we safely consume frozen vegetables from China when we do not know just how they are grown and fertilised Perhaps overseas foods do not make people sick in the countries they come from, but think of things like Delly Belly they are always advising to be careful eating when overseas. I think it is time our Government realised that there are up and coming generations that will live in this country and they will not be able to support the Big Wigs in Canberra if they have no work so where will the money come from. IT IS WAKE UP AUSTRALIA DAY
    2nd Jan 2014
    We read the label and if it is not Australia or our other state New Zealand, we put it back and look further. It is possible to buy Australian produce and we do when we can. Of course the best Aussie produce is that which we grow in our own back yard.
    6th Jan 2014
    Moke, you came to Australia when everything that was produced was exported to the UK and the price paid to the Australian farmers was identical to that which was paid to UK farmers on the UK market, but who picked up the shipment cost? there was a London "Ice Cream Barrow Boy" (Lord King correct me if I am wrong?) who to his credit jumped on the band wagon and formed one of the largest cattle and sheep stations in Australia, he then formed the Blue Star Shipping Line, in which subsequently the UK taxpayer bore the transport cost for his produce to the UK which then was sold at competitive prices to UK farmers.,
    3rd Jan 2014
    But Dougie how do we know what is grown in Australia as far as fresh fruit & veggies?
    3rd Jan 2014
    Are you one eyed or one horned - look for the label on the stand
    . Supermarkets have recently been fined for incorrect labelling. Report don't whinge.
    4th Jan 2014
    Yeah I can just imagine my trying to report our local shop for selling the oranges from California they would say what's the matter with them & really nothing but they aren't Australian.
    6th Jan 2014
    Hey Unicorn,

    Some couple of years ago my daughter noticed that the large supermarket in her town was selling imported bananas. She lives in a large banana producing area in NSW. She wrote a letter to the paper and guess what that store now only stocks locally grown when it is available, The point is pick your target and aim straight. The result will please you. Make people aware and they will go along if it shows an unjust action.

    4th Jan 2014
    Why have we not heard about this in Australia.??
    I am so glad we did not give GM Holden any more taxpayer money.
    Your eyes will well and truly be opened once you listen to this.

    6th Jan 2014
    Toyota threating to pull out now....who cares. Let them go. The wages are too high here and 75% of cars are now being built in China anyway. The horse has already bolted.
    7th Jan 2014
    gREAT dOUGIE, & I have tried writing letters but there is no locak paper in our town so I tried writing to the local Council, should have known though It did not get to the Mayor as it was addressed to instead it got landed to one of the dogsbodies and I got an answer that told me nothing to address the problem instead it told me a load of Bullswool. I may as well have saved my 50c stamp.
    8th Jan 2014
    I did say pick your target and aim straight, it usually works. When you get some idiot who is or is not the person you wrote to use the phone. I am happy to say that I annoy hell out of people until I get an answer that responds to my query. I may be known as a cranky old so and so but it is amazing how many people ask for my help when they cannot have a local problem resolved. The local Mayor, Pollies and Police as well as shopping centre management all know and respect me I think.

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