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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cars are a dead proposition, clean-tech is a winner

In an interesting interview, BMW's Australia head predicts the death of Holden's local manufacturing operations. This year, Ford announced that it would stop making cars here in 2016 and that the "iconic" Falcon brand would be scrapped. The picture accompanying this blogpost shows a detail of Holden's new "VF" Commodore, another major Aussie brand, but it will probably be the last Commodore to emerge considering the Coalition looks set to win the September election.

Which can only be a good thing as these brands are cornerstones of Aussie cultural chauvinism, a phenomenon that has enjoyed a distinct resurgence in our apolitical (though possibly not uncritical) age - Gallipoli anyone? - and so rev-heads in this country will be forced to find points of reference for their intellectual nihilism in products made elsewhere. Falcon and Commodore will no longer battle it out on the Supercar track because these models will not exist. Instead, there will be some unrealistic box of tricks-on-wheels imported from Korea, perhaps, or Indonesia to entice the mouth-breathers and the whacked-out tradies to strip off their shirts and stand around drinking stubbies all afternoon in the sun. (You know you love it!)

Kevin Rudd's campaign ad - the one where he's standing on the verandah of a multi-million-dollar inner-urban standalone bungalow - makes it clear he wants manufacturing to survive in Australia: "I want Australia to make things people want." But making cars is not that thing, and Labor's attempt to prop up the failing car-making industry in Aus is so far misguided as to verge on the irresponsible. You want to use my taxes to pay people to make things noone wants? No thanks, Kev.

What Rudd and Abbott should be looking to promote are green manufacturing companies, who can - and do - make things noone else makes, here in Australia, and whose products can be exported to countries (like China) where official displeasure with set emissions targets goes hand in hand with proactive policies on the ground designed to reduce carbon emissions. The whole world is looking for technologies that Australian manufacturing companies already make. What they need - this is especially for your benefit, Tones - is an incentive to grow. An emissions trading scheme is the thing they need, not a "Green army" (what even is that?) running around planting trees on nature strips like a horde of shorn Costas.

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