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Thursday, 17 December 1992
Page: 5344

Senator MAGUIRE —Has the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce seen reports of the appointment of a senior Japanese executive to the position of both President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Australia Ltd, which follows the appointment of a US citizen to head Ford Australia? In both cases, the outgoing chief executives were Australians. Does the Government agree with a report in today's business press that the changes at Toyota confirm a drift in recent times from Australian to foreign chief executives in the local car industry? Does the Government have any concerns about the replacement of Australians in these very senior positions in this vitally important industry in Australia?

Senator BUTTON —Toyota has announced the appointment of Mr Toyofumi Nakagawa as its new President and Chief Executive. He will succeed Mr Robert Johnston, who has been elevated to the position of Chairman of Toyota Australia and becomes the only non-Japanese chairman in any part of Toyota's international structure. Mr Johnston's appointment is a significant achievement and one that is justified by his enormous contribution to the automotive industry in Australia.

  I look forward to meeting Mr Nakagawa, who comes to Australia with a wealth of experience in bringing new passenger motor vehicle plants into operation. This will be very useful at Altona, where the new Toyota plant is being built.

  It is true that Ford's new President in Australia, Mr John Ogden, is an American. Let us not forget that his predecessor, Jac Nasser, an Australian, is now not only Chairman of Ford Europe but also Vice-President of Ford's parent company in the United States, where he holds the highest position ever achieved by an Australian in the international automotive industry.  I have met Mr Ogden. He is now committed to Ford's future in Australia.

  As I said earlier, the automotive industry is an international business. Increasingly, Australia is becoming more integrated into the international strategies of the major car companies, which is reflected in export figures from Australia. This means that sometimes the Australian arms of the international car makers will be headed by Australians and sometimes they will not.

  The commitment of the car companies to Australia is far more important than the nationality of whoever happens to be our local chief executive at any particular time. The important factor in determining that commitment is the policy framework that the Government provides for the development of this industry. That is why the zero tariff policy—or should I say lunacy of the Opposition's car industry policy—is such a threat. The car companies are unanimous that zero tariffs will mean a zero car industry in Australia.

  Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.