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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7155


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (20:55): My electorate has an important—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr DANBY: Oh, I was going to talk about the member for Indi—positively! Hey, what's that about?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): Order! Does the member for Melbourne Ports have questions for the minister?

Mr DANBY: Yes.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Melbourne Ports will continue.

Mr DANBY: My electorate, Minister, has an important and iconic company, Holden. This chamber is actually the site of one of my revelations about the attitudes of the coalition towards car manufacturing, when I questioned—some people call him Lord Turnbull—the member for Wentworth about his attitude to the auto industry and he explained to me that he saw it as not important to support the auto industry and he was quite happy if Chinese cars worth $8,000 were imported for the plebs in Australia to use. Holden has been an important part of the landscape in Victoria and Australia since Ben Chifley rolled out the Holden family car. That rolled off an assembly line in November 1948. As local member I have been at Holden all through the period of time—more than a decade—that I have served in parliament and I am very pleased that they are going to continue their operations past 2020.

I was very pleased that you and the government had secured the co-investment deal. As I am sure the member for Indi would acknowledge, when Australia's economy transits out from its current high-dollar position, the export of hundreds of thousands of Holdens and Toyotas to the Middle East will be a major source of export income. We are even selling a lot of them now, but imagine when we have a lower dollar and we are able to export more extensively to the Middle East. The deal of co-investment from the federal government was worth $275 million, and it assisted the Victorian and South Australian governments. It was a co-investment in the livelihoods of all the people employed in the automotive manufacturing industry and other workers who support that sector. It allowed Holden to alter its purchasing strategy. As we know, the auto industry, like much of the manufacturing sector, is innovating and preparing from the low-carbon future of tomorrow.

The minister was recently in my electorate to launch the Holden Volt and charge station. The rollout of these charging stations means that recharging can be done anywhere during the day or night, at work, at home or around town. The charge station can recharge the Volt to 80 per cent capacity in four hours, and the Volt can travel 60 kilometres without recharging, making it an everyday car. Using renewable energy to recharge makes the Volt virtually a zero-emissions car. This is just one example of the advances in technology that Holden is introducing. They are better for the environment and they will reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels.

Holden is just one example of the things the auto and manufacturing sector is doing, and I am sure the minister can elaborate further, but I have a specific question to him: why is it important that Australia continue to maintain a car industry, despite the views of the member for Wentworth and the vast majority of the anti-manufacturing people in the coalition? What is the return that the Holden co-investment will deliver and what support or otherwise has the government received for this measure? How is the government helping component auto manufacturers assess international markets?