Prime Minister Tony Abbott and senior government ministers are holding talks with Toyota in a bid to ensure the car maker remains in Australia following Holden’s decision to cease local manufacturing in 2017.
Coming a day after Toyota released a statement saying Holden‘s decision would place “unprecedented pressure on the local supplier network and our ability to build cars in Australia”, it has been revealed that Abbott last night spoke to Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda (pictured below).
Speaking with Channel Nine, Abbott said his government wants the Altona-based car maker to continue its local operations.
“They are in a slightly different position to Holden,” Abbott said.
“Much more of their local production has been for export. Toyota locally have been much more integrated into the global operations of the company, it seems, than with Holden.”
News Limited reports the Prime Minister deeply regrets that over the past three months – the length of his leadership – his government hasn’t been able to “hold” Holden but that there was always “a very substantial amount of money” on the table.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep Holden going, I deeply regret that,” Abbott said.
“Once companies have decided that their operations are not necessarily going to be viable for the long term, it’s very hard to hold them.
“The challenge now is to ensure as far as we reasonably can that Toyota stays and that’s what we’re working on now.
“I’m very hopeful that the integration of Toyota into the global operations of the company means that it can have a strong and prosperous future in this country.”
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who visited the facilities of all three local car makers in October and ambitiously declared he would like to see Australian vehicle manufacturing continue for the next 100 years, said money originally earmarked for General Motors’ local division would likely now go to assisting Toyota.
“That money will go to Toyota and the component industry, providing they accept the plan that is worked out through the consultation process,” he said.
The Federal Court is also set to today decide on whether to approve a new pay deal for Toyota’s 2500 employees aimed at reducing production costs at its Altona plant by $17 million.
According to the ABC, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has advised workers not to accept reduced work conditions, claiming the manufacturer is attempting to use the announcement of Holden’s closure to lower workers’ pay and conditions.
When asked if Toyota’s exit from Australia was all but inevitable, Automotive Products Manufacturers CEO Richard Reilly told the ABC, “If anyone can survive themselves as a single vehicle manufacturer it will be Toyota.”
“Every country in the world that has a car industry is supported by its government, and if they’re not supported by its government, they cease manufacturing in those countries,” Reilly said.
Abbott is meeting both Victorian and South Australian premiers Denis Napthine and Jay Weatherill today to discuss the fallout following Holden’s exit announcement.