Up to half of the car industry’s 50,000 jobs could be in danger as a result of Holden’s decision to quit manufacturing in Australia.
The sector employs between 45-50,000 workers, about 33,000 of them in hundreds of component making companies across the country.
“It’s 3000 people (working for Holden) across South Australia and Victoria, but it’s another many thousand people up the supply chain,” University of Melbourne industry analyst Professor Danny Samson told AAP.
“If you think that the whole car industry figure that’s been bandied about the last few days is 50,000, then this has got to be of the order of maybe a third to a half of that.”
The Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers (FAPM), which represents parts makers, said the ramifications would be huge, but would not speculate on the number of jobs that could go.
“I’m very comfortable saying that companies will go out of business because of this decision given the volumes that are there at the moment and the business they’ve generated with Holden,” FAPM chief executive Richard Reilly said.
“We haven’t worked through the ramifications at this stage on employment.”
Prof Samson said the automotive heartland of Elizabeth in South Australia and Port Melbourne would be hardest hit, all the way down to the local sandwich shop.
“If you go right back through the supply chain it’s hundreds of businesses … all the way back to the nuts and bolts,” he said.
Some businesses would manage to adjust, others would go bust, he said.
“If you’ve got a factory that makes plastic parts for cars, what else can you make plastic parts or components for?” he said.
“Even if you make leather for leather seats, what else can you make leather for?”
But Mr Reilly warned Australia was in danger of losing its know-how in many sectors.
“There’s skills in the rail industry, in the defence industry, in the aerospace (industry), even in the mining industry,” he said.
“There are people working in those industries that are automotive trained and those skills will no longer be there.”
The survival of Toyota’s manufacturing operation will be vital to keeping workers in the jobs that stay and Prof Samson said there was reason for some optimism.
He said exports of large numbers of Camrys to the Middle East, Toyota’s investment in Australian suppliers and the possibility the government could send Holden’s subsidies its way put the Japanese company in a different category.
“It’s not going to be so simple, so small or so easy for Toyota to say goodbye to Australia,” he said.
” … It would be lovely if we got another decade.”