If you haven’t read him, you should

world war propaganda poster it can happen here

The rumors were correct: Holden is finished. General Motors has announced the closure of their factories and will no longer manufacture cars in Australia.

Ford has gone, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Nissan, all had factories in Australia, all gone. Toyota now has the honor of being the only automaker in Australia, and they will be next because the Abbott Government has sent a very clear message that it doesn’t matter if they fail.

The price of losing a manufacturing sector is often higher than most people realize. Every rivet and every screw, in every car on Australian roads, now put in by an overseas hand.

I’m not a big fan of government bailouts for the auto industry but this is not about saving an Australian icon because we want to be misty eyed and nostalgic. It’s about salvaging what’s left of the Australian manufacturing industry. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and there’s no way to recover it. The machinery, built over decades, sold off for scrap because there’s no one left to buy it. The trade skills of machinists and metalworkers, the toolmakers and engineers, gone forever because there’s no one left that needs them.

We have no way of predicting the future and if ever we find ourselves on the wrong end of a conflict, who will make the vehicles and the other machinery of war? The odds against Australia going to war are remote but then they also were back in 1939.

During the Second World War, without the factories and without the trades, there would’ve been no way to resupply our military and Australia today might be a very different place. The current way of thinking, the myopic reliance on the ANZUS treaty and the American alliance, should be frightening to every educated Australian. Talking big about coalitions and allies when invading small countries is one thing, but if the Americans were at war, with another major power at their throat, the goal would be self-preservation, just as it was for Britain in the Second World War. Australia will be forced to stand on her own, and without a strong manufacturing sector, we are finished. History has taught us lessons and we need to remember them, before it’s too late.

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