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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2614

Automotive Industry


Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaGovernment Whip in the Senate) (14:38): My question is to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Innovation, Senator Lundy. Can the minister update the Senate on today's announcement of a co-investment in Australia's automotive industry?


Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:39): I thank Senator McEwen for her question and her ongoing support for the Australian automotive sector. The automotive manufacturing industry is an integral part of the Australian economy. The industry supports over 2,800 small businesses—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind senators that interjections are disorderly. The minister is entitled to be heard in silence. When senators on my left are ready, we will proceed.

Senator LUNDY: As I was saying, the automotive industry supports over 2,800 small businesses, employs 55,500 people across every state and the ACT and supports around 200,000 additional jobs nationally. It is a cornerstone of the wider manufacturing sector which employs around one million Australians. One of the best ways to ensure a strong economy is to invest in our workers' skills. Today the Gillard Labor government has made a firm commitment to supporting car manufacturing in Australia. In fact the Gillard, Weatherill and Baillieu governments have announced together a $275 million co-investment in the future of GM's car making operations in Australia. The federal government's strategic investment will be a contribution of $215 million. In return for this investment—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUNDY: I suggest senators opposite listen carefully—Holden has agreed to inject over $1 billion into car manufacturing in Australia and make two next-generation vehicles here that will be cheaper to run and better for the environment. Holden has estimated that the new investment package will return around $4 billion to the Australian economy and this partnership will see GM Holden continue making cars in Australia until at least 2022. The agreement will support the jobs of workers directly employed in the automotive sector and support the thousands of secondary jobs in key automotive component manufacturers who supply parts to GM Holden many of whom live in regional Australia.





Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaGovernment Whip in the Senate) (14:42): Mr President, I ask a supplementary quest­ion. Given the importance of the automotive manufacturing sector, as the minister has just advised, can she outline the new initiative also announced today that will help boost Australia's automotive supply business.


Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:42): The Gillard and Baillieu governments will be providing an extra $35 million for the Automotive New Markets Initiative. Again I ask those senators opposite to take note of the partnership between the Victoria government and the federal government in this regard. The new program will help firms in the automotive supply chain move into export markets and supply their products to other industries. As a result of this program Australian automotive component manufacturers will have greater capacity to expand their operations and win new business. The initiative, with a federal contribution of $24.5 million, will run over four years and have three key elements: a $30 million merits based grants program that will provide direct financial assistance for firms to expand their customer base and product range; support services to help firms develop new business capabilities and improve productivity and existing skills; and an automotive envoy to strengthen links with the global automotive market and automotive supplier advocate. (Time expired)


Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaGovernment Whip in the Senate) (14:43): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister outline any alternative plans for a strong economy for support of the automotive industry and any policies that drive competitiveness and innovation?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! When there is silence we will proceed. It is as simple as that.



Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:44): The support of senators for auto manufacturing and car manufacturing on this side is of course well known. On the opposite side we have opposition senators who do not have a policy, so in responding to the senator's question it does not take me any time at all to reflect on alternative policies, because the opposition does not have any. Their auto industry policy is pretty simple: to cut $1.5 billion out of that industry, kill tens of thousands of jobs and lay waste to the future of a successful and ongoing manufacturing sector here in Australia. I do suggest that they have a chat with their counterparts down south and stand in shame at their lack of support for what is one of our job-generating industries with a strong future particularly with this new program that has been announced today to support the sector. They have an appalling record of supporting small business and car manufacturing in this country and they stand condemned for it.