Prime Minister Tony Abbott says there is nothing the federal
government could have done to prevent the closure of Toyota
and the end of car manufacturing in Australia.
Mr Abbott again described the loss of the car maker as
devastating, but said there would be "better days ahead" for
The world's largest car maker announced it would stop
building cars in Australia by the end of 2017 - a decision
that will cost 2500 jobs among the 4000 employed by Toyota in
Australia, and hundreds more among parts makers and other
Coming after similar announcements by Holden and Ford, Labor
has now blamed the Abbott government for the impending end of
local car manufacturing.
But the prime minister said he had on Monday night spoken to
Toyota management, who told him they had looked "long and
hard" at the closure and the decision was very considered,
"It's not as if the government could have leapt in at the
eleventh hour and said here's another hundred million or two
hundred million dollars, please, please stay," Mr Abbott told
ABC Radio on Tuesday.
"We've tried that with the motor industry.
"It hasn't worked, and the best thing now is to focus on
things that we can do and which are profitable."
The opposition says the Victorian economy may take 20 years
to recover from the closure of the Toyota plant at Altona,
with industry spokesman Kim Carr comparing it to the economic
woes of the 1930s.
"There's likely to be, for many blue collar Australians, an
economic crisis the like of which we haven't seen since the
Great Depression," Senator Carr told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"There are going to be families that won't be able to get
work. There will be whole communities that will be savaged by
Mr Abbott admitted he couldn't offer Toyota workers "false
hope" and the transition into new jobs is not always easy.
But he said other cities and regions that had gone through
significant economic changes, such as Newcastle in NSW, which
lost its steel works in the 1990s, have emerged as better
He said the government was working to make the economy as
strong as possible to ensure Toyota workers could move to
better jobs in the months and years ahead.
But when asked what those new jobs would be, the prime
minister said: "I can't give you that answer.
"None of us know the answers to those questions.
"What we've got to do is remember that we are creative people
in a capable country who have always faced the future with
confidence and have always made the most of it."
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine will fly to Canberra on
Tuesday to seek support for workers left jobless by Toyota's
Mr Abbott said he would discuss with Mr Napthine how to
create jobs through infrastructure and other projects the
commonwealth is not yet involved in but could fund in the
"So the people of Victoria are confident that ... their state
is going to be in better shape in five years time than it is
now," the prime minister said.
Labor MP Tim Watts, whose electorate of Gellibrand includes
Toyota's Altona plant, said he was furious.
"I am angry that Toyota workers had to go home to their
families last night and over dinner tell them that they
wouldn't have a job in the future," he said.
These jobs would not have been lost under a Labor government,
"A Labor government would have shown leadership when this
perfect storm hit the Australian manufacturing industry."