Australia not better off without auto industry: former Productivity Commission boss

Bill Scales, the former
head of the Productivity Commission, has said that comments by the head of
General Motors that Australia was better off without car manufacturing were
wrong.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Scales, now Chancellor of Swinburne University,
said he agreed with comments that businesses couldn’t survive on government
assistance, applauding GM’s honesty.

The US car maker’s head of
international operations, Stefan Jacoby, made this comment to Australian journalists at this week’s Detroit motor show.

“I am of the strong opinion
that this was the right thing for Australia and this was the best thing for
Holden overall,” Jacoby told reporters.

Scales criticised Jacoby’s
comment on losing manufacturing as being a positive.

“Australia is not better
off without manufacturing at all,” he told The AFR.

“Manufacturing can prosper
in this country and in many cases it is.”

He said that Holden would’ve
been better served by admitting earlier that subsidies alone couldn’t sustain a
business and instead lobbying for sensible, helpful policy changes.

Holden will shut its factories
in Australia in 2017, along with Toyota. Ford will do so in 2016.

Image: Fairfax