Underperforming growth in China, improving economic conditions in the US, and the RBA’s recently announced cut in the cash rate to a record low of 2.75% have forced downward pressure on the Australian dollar – culminating in a loss of nearly 8% in value against the USD since mid-April. Crashing from its peak of $US1.10 in July 2011, the AUD has reached an 11 month low, with many analysts warning investors to brace themselves for further deterioration.
The Federal government announced recently that they will continue to support the Australian car industry through ‘co-investment’ – i.e. through tax-payer funded direct subsidies to industry. This is funneling money to multinational co-operations so they can maintain production of Holdens and Fords in Australia. All this is for one reason – to protect Australian car manufacturing jobs.
The government argues that this investment is important to maintain a car manufacturing industry in Australia, and if there no support, they would cease producing locally-made cars. For example, the government granted $34 million in subsidies to the Ford Plant in Melbourne to keep it running until 2016. Decisions such as this have been branded as important to Australia’s ‘national interest’, a clever political line to justify protectionist policy initiatives.