Australia says good-bye to car-making as Holden closes doors | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 20.10.2017
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Australia says good-bye to car-making as Holden closes doors

The last car has rolled off a Holden production line in Australia. It marked the end of an era for the company and the demise of a national industry, which experts said was unable to stand up to global competition.

Car-making came to an end in Australia on Friday, as a red V8 Commodore sedan rolled off the production line at Adelaide's Holden factory, the last of 7.6 million produced there.

"There are a number of people who have been here since the 1970s and today is a very emotional day for some and a very sad day," the state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, John Camillo, told reporters as about 1,000 Holden employees looked on and hundreds of enthusiasts blocked streets outside the factory.

The closure of the plant after 69 years of operation means Holden, which made Australia's first mass-produced car in 1948, will now solely become an importer of cars. Holden vehicles are now expected to be imported into Australia from countries such as Thailand and South Korea.

The next model Commodore is to be manufactured in Germany and exported to Australia from March next year.

Holden employees (Reuters/AAP/M. Brake)

It's the end of an era for these Holden employees as the final car rolls off the Adelaide production line. And it's the end of an era for the whole nation

No future without subsidies

The closure of the Adelaide plant leaves 955 workers without jobs. Since 2013, when Holden began winding down production, the factory has shed more than 5,000 jobs.

Domestic competitors have also turned their backs on Australia. Ford closed its plants in 2016, while Toyota stopped making cars in Australia earlier this month. Across the nation, the industry had employed some 50,000 people.

Analysts said the demise of the car industry in the nation was attributable to the small size of the domestic market and fierce competition from lower-cost manufacturing sites in Asia.

Trade union activist John Camillo said the closure of the Holden factory showed that the federal and state governments had abandoned support for the automotive industry. Large-scale subsidies were cut off in 2014.

hg/jd (AFP, dpa)

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