Why the car industry should be nationalised

Car companies hope to make bigger profits by producing cars elsewhere.

This statement was released on November 12 by Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale, Sean Brocklehurst, and Socialist Alliance candidate for Geelong, Sarah Hathway, in the November 29 Victorian elections.

* * *

Ford, General Motors Holden and Toyota all plan to close their vehicle manufacturing operations in Australia over the next two or three years. Tens of thousands of workers will lose their jobs in car factories and in factories making car components.

The car companies have received big subsidies from state and federal governments over many years. They have made big profits. But they hope to make even bigger profits by producing cars elsewhere.

Under the capitalist system, workers are expendable. They can be thrown onto the scrap heap as a result of decisions taken by those who own the factories and other workplaces.

In the case of the car industry, the owners are transnational corporations that can shift production all over the world to take advantage of low wages or other favourable conditions.

The Socialist Alliance believes that everyone should have the right to a job with good pay and conditions. We believe the government has a responsibility to ensure this.

If the car companies do not want to continue making cars in Australia, the state or federal government should take over the factories and provide jobs for the workers.

This would also create an opportunity to re-tool the factories to produce different kinds of vehicles. For example, one factory might be converted to produce buses, while another might produce electric cars.

There is an urgent need for more public transport. Bus, train and tram services need to be made more frequent, and extended to new areas not served by public transport. Hence there is a need to produce more buses, trams and trains. The car factories could play a role in this.

There used to be a substantial publicly-owned manufacturing sector. But public industries within a mainly capitalist economy tend to be bureaucratically run and not necessarily focused on production for social need.

Workers should be able to discuss and decide what products their factories should make.

TheSocialist Alliance calls for the nationalisation of the vehicle industry under worker and community control, to save jobs and to begin the process of converting the industry to make public transport vehicles or other products.

Nationalisations are not likely to happen without significant industrial action and other forms of action from workers and their organisations.

Unions in the manufacturing sector and the union movement generally should take up the nationalisation demand — as a response to economic crises and a step towards a different form of economy — as some unions did in the past.

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


The companies own all of the intellectual property for all of the vehicles made here and the tooling. You would end up with empty factories and idle workers as the time to design, tool, test and produce completely new vehicles is 5+ years. The car companies were always going to leave, that is why they continued (and continue) to produce the same large sedans that nobody wants to buy. Yet anybody who studies the industry knows that tastes have been changing for over a decade. A speculative currency like ours also makes it impossible to plan on sourcing parts.

It was obvious many years ago that this was going to be the outcome for the Australian car industry. Both governments threw money at it without a real industry plan since Button in the 80s. Too busy slinging mud at one another to actual govern our country with the future in mind. You are 10 years too late.