Can I ring the bell and ask for time out between you two gentlemen.
What has the button report and Australian car industry got to do with Chinese coal imports ?
I have to agree with RTT , the button report 30 odd years ago could not predict consumer demand on products that weren't available. On the Don the side , it's better off having a subsided car industry that employees and skills people , gives people purpose , rather than being on the dole and the bonus of , if need be , being able to produce a loacally made product without being dependent on other countries and shipping schedules. Australia sold most of our shipping industry. Funny that being an island nation
You will have to ask Wombat why he brought up the car industry.
No one said there shouldn't be an incentive for the car industry, realistically every country in the world with a car sector only has so on the back of a loyal customer base and/or govt subsidy and/or tariff's.
The issue is how much is it worth? Apparently my Aussie 2011 Toyota Aurion Grande I bought in Dubai new for 125,000 AED or A$33,000 (yes, go and check the price of them in Australia at the time and ask a few questions on how. this was not a special price here) and included 5% import tax into the UAE was subsidised by the Australian tax payer around $2500 - 3500.
I think if the country could make a reasonable number of cars, you'd say, hey its worth it for the reason you mention above (and Don in the past). And by and large the various govt did so.
The issue was as you rightly pointed out is that in the last 10 years prior to the Aussie industry closing, the market completely changed and the Aurion's background and reason for being says it all. The Aurion was specifically designed for the Aussie market by Toyota Melbourne to replace the ailing local made Toyota Avalon sales. The factory saw it as do something or loose the model production completely so they came up with the hybrid new modle built on a Camry platform (to save cost) but with V6 and fully look to compete directly with the Falcon and Commodore. The Aurion design was later used as the prestige model but cheaper than Avalon in SE Asia albeit with a smaller motor and in UAE as a more powerful upper market version of th Camry. Camry's are very popular here as Taxi's so they needed something different looking than a working class car.
Anyway, if you look at the initial sales of the Aurion they were very strong and successfully ate into mostly the Falcon sales. Toyota reliability with a 280HP V6 6 speed is hard to look past and as my wife was a series Fairmont buyer I can tell you she was very impressed when we got the Aurion and asked if these were available in Australia and why didn't we have one before. I sold it 210,000km, never saw a garage outside PM and the interior had not aged at all. There was no design quirks like our last Fairmont (although still a nice car to drive and pull my boat with). But by 2011-12'ish, Aurion sales started to decline and with it so did the Falcon and Commodore. Aussies discovered utes and SUV's. Look around and how many garages have one of each.
Ford previously declined building the Ranger in Aus, they wanted out and this was far from a trade secret for the previous 10-15 years, the rumours had been around for years, which Falcon would be the last. The Ute, Fairlane and LTD models had long gone by early 2010's, another warning sign. The Territory based on the Falcon platform probably saved them from leaving earlier, but ironically Ford made the Edge for the global market outside Australia and basically the same type of car, hello warning sign! Even the taxi industry was moving away from Falcon's towards (Aus) Camry's, the end of the big family 6 had started.
Holden's Commodore and Cruz sales were in decline but still stronger than Ford's. Holden was staying, then going, then staying then the new CEO in USA said no more, the USA GM bailout included on-shoring as condition, they had to go. However the Commodore sales would not have held up even if they had stayed and the Cruz as a model was killed off globally not long after Australia as GM pulled out of the sedan market.
So how do you subsidise and industry that doesn't want to be here and locals don't want to buy its products? Look at Holden today, brand is dead and sales of GM products basically gone outside the Colorado. Ford is not much different, they struck gold with the Aussie designed Ranger, but everything else is lead.
Its not surprising Aussies don't buy Aussie cars. I have a few friends who migrated to Australia and the feedback on what car NOT to buy was amazing, complete lack of patriotism. Ironically Camry was rarely mentioned as I don't think many people in NSW and Qld where my friends moved to actually knew the Camry and Aurion were locally made.
As for the former workers, yes, but one reporter said it well at the end of the last shift as the workers drove away. "Almost non of them drove away from their last shift in a Falcon, very few were even Ford's"
An alternative for SA is of course the 25 year submarine program. 10,000+ workers, 25% of the money of is equivalent to the car industry subsidy.
No, I don't celebrate the loss of the Aussie car industry, I just don't see how it could survive when the buyers didn't want it. If you like being told what car to buy regardless of QC, then you go with Don's answer and tariff it to the hilt, but if the world won't buy your cars, why should you be forced to? In part this was the Button plan was trying to avoid, we all know about the Ford Capri debacle.