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$1 billion betrayal

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    Ford has received $1.1 billion in state and federal handouts since 2000.

Car giant takes cash and hits the road.

Ford slammed the door on its Australian manufacturing business -- and 1200 jobs -- by email, after accepting a total of $1.1 billion in taxpayer cash over the past 12 years.

The final death knell was delivered by the motoring giant's Detroit board to the email inbox of Ford's Asia-Pacific president, Dave Schoch, on Wednesday night. Workers were in tears when told yesterday that the Geelong and Broadmeadows factories would shut down in October 2016.

And there are fears another 2500 jobs will be lost in the car parts supply industry. Ford announced a $141 million loss yesterday, bringing the total red ink to $600 million over the past five years.

The car giant's Australian president, Bob Graziano, said Ford had crunched the numbers and not even a gold-plated government bailout would have saved the manufacturing jobs this time. He admitted it was "difficult news'' for staff, but added: "They're professionals and I think they were quite appreciative that I lived up to my commitment to tell them before we told anyone else, and as soon as the decision was taken.''

Ford has received $1.1 billion in state and federal handouts since 2000 -- and the taxpayer cash continued yesterday with $51 million pledged to retrain sacked workers and support suppliers.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was a "distressing day'' and called on Ford to make a "significant contribution'' to a retraining fund. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott called it a black day for manufacturing, while AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said yesterday could well be remembered as the day the car industry began to die in Australia.

Mr Schoch forwarded the email from Detroit bosses advising of the closure of Ford's manufacturing plants to Mr Graziano from the lounge at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, while he was waiting for a flight back to Shanghai after meeting with federal Industry Minister Greg Combet.

He had warned Mr Combet that the company and its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants were under pressure, but the bullet was delivered to workers at 9am yesterday in the canteen. Mr Graziano said making cars here was four times dearer than in Asia and twice as expensive as in Europe.

Last year Australia imported 171,000 vehicles from Thailand, the second-biggest source of new vehicles after Japan. In return, Ford Australia exported just 100 Territory SUVs. The Australian market has been flooded with cheaper imported cars as the Australian dollar has soared.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union warned Ford's cuts could cause another 2500 job losses at suppliers. Ford's closure will also put pressure on the future of Holden and Toyota's local manufacturing, but both companies said yesterday they were committed to their local operations.

There will be 650 jobs lost at Ford in Broadmeadows and 510 lost in Geelong. But the engineering centre will remain, keeping 1500 jobs at Ford Australia. Geelong's economy is expected to suffer with the closure of a major employer, which opened there in 1925.

AMWU vehicle division national secretary Dave Smith said he was in shock. "This is a company that has been here 80-odd years and employed hundreds of thousands of Australians over that time,'' he said. The Ford Falcon badge will be retired when the factories close in October 2016.

Legendary Ford V8 racing driver Dick Johnson, linked with the Falcon brand for decades, said he was extremely disappointed. "It is a sad day -- but at the end of the day everyone is in business to make money,'' he said.

But the company's historic sponsorship of the Geelong Football Club will continue. Ford will continue to produce 148 cars a day until it closes its doors, unless demand drops further.

Extra reporting by Stephen Drill.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 22 comments

  • Yeh over 12 years... where Holden GM has had 3 times that amount and still firing people... Great article written by a biased holden bogan jurno.

    Amature jurnos still going strong Posted on 12 June 2013 7:52pm
  • so the Federal Govt is committing $51 million to assist 1200 people with retraining etc - that equates to $42,500 per person which is well above what a lot of Australians earn in a year. Surely reteraining could be capped at say $5,000 per person and the remainder of the funds used to increase the benefit paid to those who GENUINELY are unable to work

    bthomas Posted on 02 June 2013 3:45pm
  • Also BundyGil of Bundaberg, if you think you have to row the Mazda3 hard to get anywhere, stay away from the rest of the small car class because even the basic 2L is one of the quicker cars of the class. It also has more torque and a better torque curve than most of the normally aspirated cars in the class, meaning you have to 'row' it much less. In fact it is even quicker than some of the small capacity turbo cars. There is nothing wrong with not liking the car, I am indifferent about them, but there is no need to make things up. Again, I totally agree they are tinny and very cramped in the back, they are well below class average, but of course you will have to row it more to get anywhere. As you said, it is a small car and that is what you have to do to most of them and the Mazda3 is by far one of the better ones when it comes to performance. It is all relative.

    Sydlocal Posted on 29 May 2013 8:00am
  • @ BundyGil of Bundaberg, nothing like letting the truth get in the way of a good story hey? The Mazda3 does have time delay for the power windows, however it is basic and quite stupid. It only works on the driver's window and stops working the second you open the door and there is a time delay on the interior lights. They will even turn on and stay on for 30sec or so when you unlock the car. I know because my parents have one. Also you have kind of contradicted yourself a little by saying you have to row it like mad to get it to go any where, yet you say it torque steers a lot? What the? You must drive like a crazy person and only when it is wet because that is one of the few times the torque steer to the level you are talking about would happen to a standard car. If you drive like a normal person you wouldn't really get any at all. Even my parent's diesel Mazda3 with lots of torque hardly ever torque steers unless the road is heavily rutted and you are driving like an idiot. I fully agree they are tinny and cramped in the back. However I also think it has more foot room in the front than a Falcon because it doesn't have the intrusive transmission tunnel skewing your feet outboard.

    Sydlocal Posted on 29 May 2013 7:41am
  • Nice headline Josh Dowling. You're a bloody joke.

    B R of Australia Posted on 27 May 2013 8:59pm
  • You cant blame Ford for Australian governments wanting to give them money. Ford have shown no willingness to put any local product to export and yet the AU govt kept handing over money. Your article is misguided.

    jg of Australia Posted on 27 May 2013 10:16am
  • I read another article that for every dollar handout received Ford has put 6 more back into the economy , in the final analysis companies are in business to make money, government has seen fit to lower tariffs on imports at every opportunity, government has done nothing to alleviate high energy cost, government has allowed cheap imports to flood Australia. the other car makers , Toyota has less Australian made content in their cars, i`m not sure but i suspect holden by percentage does too, and if what i have read is correct it looks like not long after ford closes its doors in 2016 holden will be an import company too, what an absolute travesty for our car makers and disgrace at the lethargy of our politicians letting another industry go down the drain.

    Michael. D of Melbourne Posted on 27 May 2013 2:17am
  • How is it betrayal? Did Ford not produce cars? Did Ford not employ people? Did Ford not pay tax? Oh that's right it's another Dowling article, complete with Holden advertising at the bottom. Wonder what he'll write about come 2017 when the Commodore becomes just another rebadged Korean car.

    Ken Posted on 26 May 2013 9:23pm
  • "while AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said yesterday could well be remembered as the day the car industry began to die in Australia."............Chief economist? If so he'd have know that our car industry began to die when we started removing tariff protection the best part of 3 decades ago. Australia is too isolated to compete in a "free trade" environment but we went there anyway. "Free trade" has a hefty price tag!

    Neal of Cairns Posted on 26 May 2013 7:34am
  • at least one good thing will happen in 2016 when ford closes its Aust doors , Joshua Dowling will stop writing dribbling crap like this wonder who he will dislike next like he has with ford for all these years

    nathan of wa Posted on 25 May 2013 8:53pm
  • Stupid comment JD. Apart from the fact you are laughing with a "Told you so" Why not put a spin on how much money they have paid in taxes, how much money have they paid to employees and how much have the put into the 2 communities ..... not just in the last 12 years but since 1928. Can we see the figures of this?????? Please???????? When anyone gets there marching orders, its usually 4 weeks notice ....... not 3.5 years. They could have been Aholes and done the deed a few months out. This must be devistating news for JD though ...... he has no one else to bag out on a regular basis anymore. :(

    Dave M of Melbourne Posted on 25 May 2013 8:51pm
  • Still not as bad as Holden's $2.2 billion in federal handouts though

    douche of NSW Posted on 25 May 2013 8:17pm
  • Dude, you and the aussie media are a big part of the problem. Going to love the day when your crappy papers are gone.

    Buy Aussie Posted on 25 May 2013 8:15pm
  • Yes the auto industry get's government support, yet it gets less support in Australia than practically every other country gives their auto industy. When are you journos going to tell the whole story in an article and not just the one sided story. I challenge Mr Dowling to walk through his house from the garage to the back door and tell us all how much is made in Australia (as a percentage would do). from this article it appears that he doesn't believe in manufacturing of any sort in Australia

    Grant Pattinson of Sunshine Posted on 25 May 2013 7:51pm
  • josh, can you please tell me how much Ford Aus has contributed to the economy, or doesnt that make interesting news?

    Michael Hardy of Perth Posted on 25 May 2013 12:44pm
  • You're an absolute idiot Dowling. The amount of money that the car industry generates for the Australian economy far outweighs the investment made by the government

    Col Penrose Posted on 24 May 2013 11:32pm
  • Problem is not that Falcons are a bad car, or even a mediocre one. I reckon they're brilliant, much better than the rice burners Australian car reviewers seem to love for some weird reason. My sister has a current model best selling Mazda 3 that I have driven extensively, which, in my opinion, is damned with very faint praise. It has only half the features making driving comfortable such as being able to wind up the electric windows for 30 seconds after the ignition has been turned off, a very irritating problem if your car doesn't have this feature, interior lights that remain on for 30 seconds after you leave the car so you can see where you're going instead of being plunged into instant darkness. The Mazda 3, sure is a much smaller car, but it's really cramped, no leg room, a torque steering screamer, and really tinny construction with a very ordinary interior. I have no idea why reviewers love them. You'd have to pay me heaps to put one in my garage.

    BundyGil of Bundaberg Posted on 24 May 2013 10:50pm
  • nice headline Joshua, cant help yourself,can you.

    John Smithard Posted on 24 May 2013 9:56pm
  • Dowling still cant stop. No mention of the $1.8b Holden received in the same time is there?

    Scott of Brisbane Posted on 24 May 2013 9:20pm
  • It's about time Ford disapeared! We all live in a world where we must move with the times, be efficient and produce products that people want that are of high quality. None of these were virtues of Ford products for many years. You reap what you sow, and no truer words have ever been said.

    Greg Byrne of Australia Posted on 24 May 2013 8:03pm
  • "$1.1 billion in taxpayer cash over the past 12 years." That is chicken feed for this type of industry...

    kosta of brighton Posted on 24 May 2013 5:44pm
  • Drive a Chery I do. Made in China. The name brand of the future

    Cha Ool Posted on 24 May 2013 2:42pm
Read all 22 comments

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