Look on the bright side

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars Guide -

WE ARE liv­ing in a golden age of motoring. It may not al­ways look that way, but cars have never been bet­ter. Or quicker. Or greener. Prices are great too, and Aus­tralia has never done bet­ter on ex­ports or in­no­va­tion.

Many peo­ple say the car in­dus­try is a par­a­sitic drain on the econ­omy, but it brings plenty of ben­e­fits — in­clud­ing ex­ports that trail only min­ing in what they earn each year.

‘‘In Aus­tralia, cars are the largest man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try bar none. We di­rectly sup­port 66,000 fam­i­lies and put $5 bil­lion in wages back into the econ­omy ev­ery year,’’ says Mark Reuss, head ofGMHolden and chair­man of the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries, who de­liv­ered a speech this week that con­tained sev­eral im­por­tant mes­sages and facts.

Reuss says Aus­tralia is fac­ing some of the most chal­leng­ing eco­nomic and mar­ket con­di­tions in re­cent his­tory, and car­mak­ers and sup­pli­ers were un­der im­mense pres­sure.

‘‘We are fac­ing the re­al­i­ties of op­er­at­ing in one of the most open and com­pet­i­tive ve­hi­cle mar­kets in the world.’’

Reuss says there is a carrot and a stick for the Aus­tralian mo­tor in­dus­try, but prefers to con­cen­trate on the carrot.

‘‘De­spite the chal­lenges, au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing in Aus­tralia still makes good sense . . . We have played a dis­pro­por­tion­ately high role in the global au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.’’

Reuss says Aus­tralia is in a re­gion of high growth for au­to­mo­tive prod­ucts, and its car­mak­ers should grow to take ad­van­tage of mar­kets in the re­gion and be­yond.

‘‘What may be seen as a threat is, in fact, our big­gest op­por­tu­nity.’’

He says our abil­ity

to

at­tract

global in­vest­ment in the car in­dus­try is crit­i­cal if this op­por­tu­nity is to be re­alised.

Holden has backed the chat with a new ex­port deal for the States­man, and we have more news to­day on the deal that puts the Ford Fo­cus into lo­cal pro­duc­tion and, more im­por­tantly, cre­ates sig­nif­i­cant ex­port po­ten­tial.

Re­ward is there: GM Holden head Mark Reuss has his eye on car­rots, not sticks.

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