Gillard to Meet With Toyota, Ford, Holden to Discuss Pressures

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will meet with representatives of the local units of Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to discuss how the government can assist the car industry.

Ford announced May 23 it would end production in Australia after nine decades, with the loss of 1,200 jobs, threatening the viability of the industry in a blow to Gillard. Her Labor party trails in polls ahead of a Sept. 14 ballot.

The meeting will aim to identify “key pressures that the industry is facing at present and discussing what the public policy settings should and may not be, and ensure that the government assists the industry to meet those pressures,” Industry and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, who will attend, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today.

The government supports the car industry through a A$5.4 billion ($5.2 billion) fund. Australia’s three car makers have struggled as an 18 percent rise in the local dollar against the yen over the past year stoked sales of cheaper imported vehicles and cut exports.

“We are one of only 13 countries in the world that can build a car from the drawing board up,” Combet said. “So it is very important engineering capacity that we have got in Australia. That is something that is very important for the economy.”

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