SYDNEY Oct 7 The last Australian-made
six-cylinder Ford Falcon rolled off an assembly line on
Friday, marking the end of Ford's 91-year history of car-making
in a country that simultaneously fell out of love with big cars
The end of operations - to be replicated by GM Holden
and Toyota Australia next year - coincides with a move
by the famed car company to close in Japan and Indonesia, where
it sees "no reasonable path to profitability".
The impending death of car manufacturing in Australia has
sparked heated debate over the future of the economy and the
role of governments in propping up ailing sectors, after the
governing centre-right coalition cut subsidies to the sector.
Dave Smith, national vehicle division secretary of the
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said on Friday the Ford
workers "handled themselves with magnificent dignity" on their
"There's been a lot of emotion and it's been close to coming
to the surface at times," Smith told journalists at the Ford
factory in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows.
"It's a shame for Australia because I think we lose so much
when we no longer have vehicle manufacturing. But, you know,
that's part of history now."
About 600 Ford workers are losing their jobs on Friday, all
in the state of Victoria, where Ford's Australian operations are
The decline of Australia's manufacturing industry - total
employment in the sector dropped from 13.4 percent in 2005 to
7.8 percent last year - hasn't been helped by changing tastes as
motorists turn against the locally made, big passenger cars Ford
and Holden are traditionally known for, opting instead for
overseas-made small cars and sports utilities.
Ford Australia chief executive Graeme Whickman said while it
was a difficult day, it was an honour to see the last Falcon XR6
"The last cars which aren't saleable will be put on show for
all Australians to come and see and enjoy, and that will be in
museums and other such things around the country," Whickman told
journalists outside the factor.
($1 = 1.3191 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett; Additional reporting by Tom
Westbrook and Swati Pandey; Editing by Robert Birsel)