On the closure of Toyota's Altona plant

At around midday today, the last Toyota will roll off the production line in Altona, marking the end of automotive manufacturing in Victoria.

2500 jobs gone, just like that.

It didn’t have to be this way. John Conomos, former head of Toyota Australia, argues that, had Holden or Ford stayed, Toyota would continue to have a future in Australia, but they weren’t able to support an entire local parts industry by themselves.

Unfortunately we didn’t get the support our automotive industry needed – we got Joe Hockey instead.

The Liberals could have seen the importance of maintaining a strong automotive sector in this country.

They could have realised that the cost of supporting automotive manufacturing pales into insignificance next to the cost of lost tax revenue, welfare payments and all the flow on effects that happen when you hurt families and whole communities through sheer ideological bloody-mindedness.

They could have taken a moment to see what it really means when you take away 2,500 thousand decent, secure jobs from working families, with no plan to replace them.

But that’s not the Liberal way, is it?

Let the market decide, let the workers despair.

A small number of the hardworking Toyota employees leaving the factory today will walk into other full time work. Some will retire earlier than they wanted to. A larger number will struggle to get by on casual, contract or other forms of insecure work. Others will leave with no job to go to at all.

Thousands of other jobs will disappear in the next few months as well, across the supply chain and in supporting industries, as the employer that kept them afloat packs up and leaves the country. 

Think about all of these workers today. Solidarity with them, and their families. They don’t deserve this.

Safe, secure, well-paying jobs are hard to create and easy to throw away – we must do everything we can to protect them, in manufacturing and in every sector. If you want to see what the alternative is, look to the United States, where millions of people work multiple jobs and still live in poverty.

We can do better. We must do better. 

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