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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4011

Automotive Industry


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (14:20): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. How will the government's co-investment with Holden benefit the quarter of a million Australians whose jobs depend on the automotive industry? Why is it important to get this reform done, and what are the obstacles to it?


Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:21): I thank the member for Wakefield, who has an extremely direct interest in this issue. This is a Labor government and we stand up for working people. We manage the economy in the interests of working people and in the interests of the manufacturing industry. That is why today we have announced, as the Prime Minister indicated earlier, a $275 million co-investment with General Motors which will secure Holden's Australian car manufacturing operations for a decade.

The reality is that without this co-investment GM Holden would have closed its Australian manufacturing operations, and that would have cost thousands of highly skilled manufacturing workers' jobs. It would have also meant the loss of vital design and engineering capabilities and would have put other parts of the automotive manufacturing industry in this country under extreme pressure. Instead, the government has secured a commitment from General Motors to keep making cars in Australia until at least 2022. This is a major achievement. This co-investment is part of a total investment package by Holden, by General Motors, in excess of $1 billion and, very importantly, the package is designed to ensure that Holden's operations are competitive while the Australian dollar is around parity with the US dollar. This will be a significant improvement in the competitiveness and productivity of Holden's operations and it will support tens of thousands of jobs throughout the economy. It will also build important business opportunities for car component manufacturers to take part in global supply chains.

When Labor says we support manufacturing, we mean it. When we say we support workers and their families, we mean it and we act upon it. Instead, the opposition leader pretends to be a friend of manufacturing workers, but what happens when that is put to the test? Those on the other side of this parliament have a policy to take $1.5 billion out of Labor's new car plan which funded the government commitment outlined in today's announcement with Holden. Before the ink was dry on this morning's announcement the coalition rushed out to oppose it. The coalition's position would put tens of thousands of people out of work in this important manufacturing industry. This coalition is full of hypocrisy on issues of this nature.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The minister will withdraw the accusation of hypocrisy.

Mr COMBET: I withdraw, Mr Speaker. (Time expired)

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, the Minister should also withdraw the false claim that the coalition is opposing this co-investment. It is a false claim and he should withdraw it.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business has access to other forms of the House to address that matter.