Delivering the televised address at the National Press Club of Australia today, Mr Mike Devereux, FCAI President and Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, said that Australia stands at a fork in the road and must invest in the nation’s capability to design, engineer and build if we are to be a diverse and strong knowledge economy.
Citing the story of Amazon’s Kindle, which was developed in the US but is now produced in Taiwan due to lack of manufacturing capability in the US, Mr Devereux said:
“That’s the future we’re contemplating – if we give up on manufacturing capability, we mortgage our future for the things we can’t even imagine today.”
As the outgoing President of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the body which represents Australian car manufacturers and importers, Mr Devereux made a strong case for Australia to be made a more attractive investment opportunity for manufacturers.
He said the real competition in the automotive industry is convincing parent companies to invest in Australia. We compete for investment with other countries that understand the importance of this investment to education, employment and innovation.
“Government investment, or intervention, should not be a dirty word. Government support and investment in automotive capability can happen in several ways,” he said.
The Australian automotive industry competes on global markets with a fraction of direct financial support, per capita, than other automotive nations.
Mr Devereux highlighted the importance of co-investment programs to attract new capital investment in next generation models.
“Developed and developing countries alike are building comprehensive national strategies for manufacturing and investing significant resources to expand their capacity to create and build things. Australia has to be able to compete on a level-playing field,” he said.
Mr Devereux also explained the role of global platforms in vehicle development and the opportunities they present local manufacturers and suppliers.
The automotive industry in Australia directly employs 59,000 people and FCAI estimates that for each of these jobs another six people are employed in supporting industries.
Mr Devereux’s closing message was that Australia is one of, if not the most, open car market in the world.
“Australia can be part of the ‘golden age of manufacturing’ if governments provide long-term policy certainty, clarity, consistency and competitiveness.
“So if Australia does want to be a knowledge economy and a diverse economy, and it wants to be more than a farm, a mine or a hotel, then we need to invest in our capability to design, engineer and build. If we don’t the real opportunity cost is something we can’t even imagine today.”
For further information contact:
Sheena Ireland, Communications Manager
P: 02 6229 8221
M: 0458 038 555