Former Ford boss says Aussie auto manufacturing demise could be inevitable

Jac Nasser, current chairman of mining giant BHP Billiton and former global head of Ford, has said Australia lacks the patriotic support of its car makers that other countries display and expressed pessimism about the industry’s future.

Jac Nasser, current chairman of mining giant BHP Billiton and former global head of Ford, has said Australia lacks the patriotic support of its car makers that other countries display and expressed pessimism about the industry’s future.

During a speech to the Australian British Chamber of Commerce, Nasser, who worked at Ford for 33 years and was its global CEO from 1998-2001, told an audience that other countries were more sentimental when it came to their auto industry.

"Here, we've had it with some products but we haven't seemed, as Australians, to be emotionally connected to the industry," News Limited reports him as saying.

''I'm disappointed in some of the rhetoric that I hear, where it's clear that the general feeling in Australia is that they're not patriotic around their automotive industry. In most countries around the world they are emotional about their automotive industry.''

He suggested that other countries were also offering more in the way of taxpayer support.

''I would say we haven't spent a lot on it, when you compare the incentives that the automotive industry has received, to others,” he said, according to Fairfax Media.

Nasser said that he’d grown less hopeful about automotive manufacturing’s future in Australia, and if one of the remaining three companies making cars in Australia, it could have disastrous flow-on effects for the industry as a whole.

''Let's assume one of the three decide to exit Australia in terms of manufacturing, then you end up potentially with a sub-scale supplier infrastructure, and once that happens I think it's a domino effect,” he said.

''It would be a very sad day for Australia but unfortunately it looks like it could be inevitable.''

Meanwhile, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill will meet Holden’s managing director Mike Devereux today for the first time since the premier accused Holden of reneging on an agreement to retain workers in exchange for a $50 million government grant.

Holden announced on Monday that it was cutting 500 positions – 400 in South Australia and 100 in Victoria – on Monday. The week before that, Holden revealed that it had received over $2 billion in government support over the last 12 years.