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Hockey We don’t want to buy Aussie cars

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    Ford workers outside the Broadmeadows plant this morning. Photo: Tim Carrafa

Australian carmakers are producing vehicles we don't want, says shadow treasurer Joe Hockey.

The senior Liberal politician blamed the difficulties of struggling Australian carmakers on a misreading of the market, saying Australians "don't want to buy Australian cars". And Hockey's comments indicated he thought buyers were looking more favourably at the 60 foreign makes on sale in Australia.

The shadow treasurer's blunt assessment of the local industry's woes came as Ford began forced retrenchments at its Geelong and Broadmeadows plants, blaming low sales. Hockey today was asked on the Seven network for the Coalition's view of subsidies for car makers.

"People are not buying Australian cars, Australian-made cars, because they don't want to buy Australian-made cars," he said. "And the cars are not meeting their demands as consumers." The comments are a sign that a Coalition government would question the Gillard government's $5.4 billion support package to be paid to the automotive industry through to 2020.

Hockey said Australia should have a vehicle industry but that "protection is not the answer". "The bottom line is we need an efficient car. We need cars that consumers want and then the motor vehicle industry will survive," he said. About 212 positions will be lost at the Ford factories with workers being told the jobs some have held for close to 30 years are over.

Ford has said it has been unable to rely on the domestic market while the high Australian dollar was making exports less competitive. Environment Minister Tony Burke joined criticism of the local industry by saying it had been slow to offer fuel-efficient vehicles. 

"The challenge for Australian-made vehicles across the board has been that we were behind the curve in moving to more fuel-efficient cars,'' Mr Burke said. "A whole lot of the Government investment that we have been putting into the car industry is about making sure we can have Australian-made hybrids - about making sure we can have Australian-made, more efficient cars.''

And it seems a growing number of consumers agree with Hockey. "If any of the locals built a small, rear-wheel-drive car that had some get up and go, I'd be all over it,'' Terry of Adelaide wrote on Another reader, named ‘Aussie’ said: "He's right. Most Aussie cars are too big and too ugly. They can't expect the Government to keep throwing money at the industry when it's just not working. Something has to change.''

Another commenter said Hockey was "absolutely correct". "My family were in the market for a new car and after considering all the mid/small range Australian cars for quality and price, we brought a Kia Cerato because of value for money, excellent five-year warranty, quite well built and the 'free' extras that came with it," he wrote. "All the Aussie cars couldn't or wouldn't match. Protection isn't the answer. Hard reality is continued bail outs with our money over the years is just stalling the inevitable.''

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 9 comments

  • I have just got a new FG mk2 XR6 ute. If VW or Toyota made a car that fit me I would have purchased that. If the US finally bring their vehicles to Aus for a realistic price I won't be buying another ford or Holden ute. Frankly they are poor quality compared to euro or Asian products.

    FG xr6 for now of Narromine Posted on 03 December 2012 7:37am
  • So Ford Make a 4 cylinder that''s not fuel efficient. Holden Make the Volt. Not even a mention. Yeah.....Right......The Fact of it all though. Can Hybrid Tow something over 2 tonne? I doubt it. Hybrids are a peice of junk. Seriously price what a new electric battery is for a prius. Ford bought over the Econetic Fiesta (more effient than Prius). But still nobody buys them. Not Australian made and not selling.

    Tim Roberts (EDXR6) of Queensland Posted on 29 November 2012 7:56am
  • For the past 15 years I have had ford or Holden company cars they have been poorly made and unreliable. Why would we buy them for our private cars when the cost in time and money to keep them running is too high. In the last few of years been getting Toyota Hilux’s, Prado’s and they have been unbreakable, unbelievably reliable and I work in remote locations spend up to 10hours a day off road in the worst driving conditions. This is why Toyota products are number one.

    HT of Newcastle Posted on 22 November 2012 8:10am
  • Joe Hockey needs an Aussie car as I can't see him fitting in any of the imported cars

    Weight Watcher Posted on 21 November 2012 3:55pm
  • How do the governments take away tariffs and encourage (un) free trade and then blame our auto industry when they are swamped by cheap imports. For our population, we have a great industry, we dont just assemble cars, we engineer them. To have a member of the opposition say our manufacurers are slow to change when they no nothing of the industry is an insult

    Dave S Posted on 21 November 2012 1:31pm
  • There will never be a car industry under the government I lead....

    Juliar Gillard Posted on 20 November 2012 8:14am
  • Maybe Holden and Ford should look at building a family car the size of the original Commodore with the light weight body panels and the other fuel improvements made by them with the current cars. And bring back tariffs, everyone else of the so called free trade nations seems to have a tax or tariff in place, why are we playing it so dumb, it's a win win, we have car manufacturing without a Government subsidy and you have the choice as to what vehicle you buy, with tariffs we keep Aussie jobs and that is the most important issue with this argument

    Aussie and proud of Australia Posted on 19 November 2012 10:17am
  • The problem is that foreign cars can be imported into OUR country using cheap 3rd world labour. If the Gov't reintroduced tariff's, then it would help save our local market plus add valuable dollars to the coffers, meaning that we could pay less tax, or certainly not be taxed further. A win / win!

    Woodpecker of Northern Beaches Posted on 19 November 2012 8:19am
  • How did the last "commenter"consider "all the mid/small range Australian cars for quality and price"? There is only ONE mid/small Australian made car. The Cruze. I think he doesn't know what he is talking about. (Like Joe Hockey!) Does Hockey understand anything about car making? Does he understand that car makers can't just say "Oh, let's build a small car next year." It takes 4-5 years for these decisions to become a car on the showroom floor. 4 or 5 years ago, NO ONE predicted that Australians would desert the large car to the extent they have.

    Bill Posted on 16 November 2012 10:59pm
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