Toyota rolls car manufacturing out of Vic

The pain from Toyota’s long-awaited Australian exit is forecast to stretch far beyond the car manufacturer’s 2600 out-of-work employees.

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After the last Camry rolled off the Altona North production line on Tuesday, a sprawling network of supply chain workers also prepared to embrace joblessness.

“All up today, there is about 6000 Victorians going to lose their jobs because Toyota is shutting down,” the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Dave Smith told reporters.

Ballarat-based OzPress, for example, was “95 per cent Toyota”, owner Mark Dwyer said.

“We’ve gone from 30 people to five,” he told AAP.

“We’ll keep going in a small way and, hopefully, rebuild over time.”

Toyota’s departure marks the end of more than 90 years of Victorian car manufacturing, which began with Ford at Geelong in 1925.

The nation’s car manufacturing industry will reach the end of the road when Holden rolls out of Adelaide on October 20.

Newly unemployed Toyota workers are optimistic, but concerned about the future.

“A lot of us haven’t had a job interview here for 20-odd years. It’s changed since we came here, filled out a bit of paper and walked in the door and started the next day,” Matthew Kinson told reporters.

“My concern now is that the job market is casual. We’ve got it good here, we’ve got good terms and conditions and very good wages.”

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the car industry was a crucial part of the Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry and Toyota workers were “betrayed” by the federal government’s failure to value the sector.

“You can import a car, but you can’t import a generation of people of who have built up critical skills over a lifetime in manufacturing,” she said.

The AMWU said only about half of Ford’s workers – who lost their jobs when the manufacturer left Victoria a year ago – had moved into permanent, full-time work.

Toyota announced its departure from Australian car manufacturing in 2014, and says it has since put more than 2200 workers through a job skills program, which will continue for another six months.

About 260 workers previously indicated they would retire after Tuesday, while 130 were being deployed into other areas of the company.

“The company will continue to provide the Australian market with a diverse range of high-quality vehicles,” Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner said in a statement.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the loss of the car industry “did not have to happen”, but the move was forced when the government stopped financially supporting car markers.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says car manufacturers were leaving in response to changing markets, not a lack of subsidies, valued at about $7 billion since 2001.

Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan says the state government has spent more than $100 million on targeted assistance programs for automotive workers.

Record rain heralds Qld storm season

Queenslanders are being urged to prepare for storm season after an intense cell brought record-breaking rain and a swathe of destruction to the city of Bundaberg.

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More than 340mm fell on the Wide Bay region on Monday, causing flash flooding and breaking a 64-year record by more than 60mm.

Residents described cyclone-like winds that downed trees and power lines, smashed windows and wrapped trampolines around power poles.

Acting Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Anthony Lynham said the devastating event had resembled a “mini-tornado” in some parts.

“Some of the damage is quite significant,” he said in Bundaberg on Tuesday, as the community rallied to clean up the area.

“I’m pleased to say there have been no injuries, but there has been three houses inundated and over 20 houses with minor damage.”

SES volunteers spent Monday night responding to almost 200 calls for help, while Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews helped people who had lost their roofs.

Ergon worked to restore power to more than 4000 homes.

State disaster co-ordinator Peter Martin said Bundaberg residents also deserved “very special praise” for heeding the weather warnings.

Mr Martin said that was the reason there weren’t any deaths or more significant damage.

“No community can withstand over 300mm of rain in a very short period of time without suffering some impaction,” he said.

“We really need to be vigilant, we really need to be prepared and we really need to heed the warnings and the lessons.”

Mr Lynham urged people across Queensland to prepare themselves for the upcoming storm and cyclone season.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services chief superintendent Michelle Young also asked people in the Bundaberg area to stay off the roads while the clean-up continued.

“It’s just causing more problems,” she said.

Conditions eased across Wide Bay on Tuesday as the weather system moved off the coast, with less than 1mm of rain recorded at Bundaberg Airport by late afternoon.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Julian De Morton told AAP isolated showers and thunderstorms were expected to continue on Wednesday, but should ease from Thursday.

Falls of more than 250mm were recorded in communities between Bundaberg and Maryborough, while the system brought welcome falls to parts of the southeast.

The inland town of Roma also experienced minor flooding.

SA motor racing future around the bend

A new $110 million race track at Tailem Bend, east of Adelaide, will provide the perfect launching pad for local racing prospects, South Australian Supercars driver Nick Percat says.

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The Bend Motorsport Park will host its first Supercars event next August, doubling South Australia’s presence on the championship calendar.

Percat, forced to move to Melbourne to follow his racing dreams, says the state-of-the-art track will allow the next generation to cut their teeth just a short drive up the freeway.

“Now we have a facility where Supercars teams will be here and at the Adelaide 500, and you’ll be able to put yourself in front of them,” the Brad Jones racing driver said.

“There’s plenty of people who want to do it but we haven’t got the track, so this is amazing.”

Organisers have signed a three-year contract for the Super Sprint event to be run on the 4.9km circuit.

The race will feature two legs, one of 120km and one of 200km, and will be run in addition to the Adelaide 500 street race which traditionally opens the Supercars series.

“This will be a spectacular event that will showcase the Bend Motorsport Park to a huge national and international audience,” Jones said on Tuesday during a tour of the precinct.

“This track is completely different to the street circuit used in the Adelaide 500 and we’re confident that with its world-class design, the racing will be just as exciting and memorable for fans.”

As well as the Super Sprint circuit, the complex can also be configured for a longer 7.7km track and features a drag racing strip, a drift circuit and an off-road track.

A 110-room hotel will be built on pit lane, while caravan and camping facilities will be provided to cater for 10,000 people.

The park will begin hosting international events from January.

Sydney congestion tax won’t work: expert

Sydney’s traffic problems won’t be solved by an area-based congestion charge as traffic jams spread far beyond the CBD, a transport expert says.

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The cordon-based congestion tax proposed in Monday’s Grattan Institute report would charge drivers for entering the CBD and would only solve traffic jams within a small area, University of Sydney’s Professor Michiel Bliemer told AAP on Tuesday.

“It is clear that we need to change the way we pay for road use, but I do not think that a cordon-based charging scheme is the right solution for Sydney,” the transport planning and modelling professor said.

“It is only a local measure while congestion spreads far beyond the CBD.”

The report found that in Sydney, CBD commuters from Balgowlah in the north and Hurstville in the south could expect delays of about 15 minutes on an average morning, far longer than commuters from other parts of the city.

A congestion tax has been implemented in London, Stockholm and Singapore and has been suggested for Melbourne as well.

The fee would work like an e-tag with drivers charged as they pass into the congestion area during peak times.

But Prof Bliemer believes the city should consider a kilometre-based charging system which would replace existing registration fees and possibly road tolls.

Payments under such a system could be based on odometer readings similar to those in electricity and water bills, Prof Bliemer says.

“This would be a fair system that provides an incentive to drive less across the entire state,” he said.

Similar to the findings in the Grattan Institute report, Prof Bliemer insists something needs to be done soon to ease congestion in the city.

“A time and location-based congestion tax would make car drivers reconsider their options and provides an incentive to drive less, switch to public transport, switch to off-peak hours, or work from home,” he said.

The NSW government isn’t sold on the idea.

“This government will not be introducing a ‘congestion tax’,” acting roads minister Andrew Constance told AAP on Tuesday.

“Our targeted approach to encouraging people onto public transport has reduced the number of vehicles coming into the city by 11 per cent in the peak.”

Lever’s AFL trade preference ‘irrelevant’

Adelaide are set to play hardball with young gun Jake Lever after he nominated Melbourne as his preferred AFL trade destination.

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The 21-year-old has declared he wants to play for the Demons, who have reportedly offered him a five-year, multi-million dollar deal.

“I’ll be going back to Melbourne to be with my family and friends,” Lever told the Seven Network on Tuesday.

The key defender had been widely-expected to seek a return to Victoria after putting off contract talks earlier this year.

But his decision to nominate Melbourne has angered the Crows, who bluntly described his preference as “irrelevant” and would not rule out forcing him to take his chances in the pre-season draft.

“There’s 10 clubs in Victoria, so we’ll just negotiate with whoever’s going to give us the best value,” Adelaide football boss Brett Burton told reporters.

“As a footy club, we’re in a good position at the moment … we’ll take whatever measures are deemed necessary to do what’s best for the club.”

Burton said the Crows became aware Lever intended to leave in the weeks leading up to their shattering grand-final loss to Richmond.

He claimed Lever and his partner were happy with life in Adelaide and said the decision to reject a lucrative offer that would have placed him among the Crows’ top-earners was clearly “financially motivated”.

“We don’t think it’s fair on the rest of the playing group that we make him our highest-paid player,” Burton said.

“Right now, we’ve got a list that is evolving and we need to make decisions that are fair to the rest of the playing group so we can continue to improve.”

The Crows were expected to demand two first-round draft picks for Lever, who led the AFL for intercepts per game in 2017.

Such a trade would leave Adelaide in a strong position to make a fresh play for Carlton midfielder Bryce Gibbs.

Melbourne have pick No.10 at their disposal in this year’s draft but could be forced to also offer up a future first-round selection.

Burton confirmed that Collingwood had also spoken to Adelaide’s list management team about a potential deal for Lever.

Lever could nominate for the pre-season draft in the absence of a trade to Melbourne but would risk being snapped up by a team with a higher pick.