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Thursday, 28 May 2009
Page: 4711

Mr ZAPPIA (10:44 AM) —Last night when I was speaking on the Car Dealership Financing Guarantee Appropriation Bill 2009, just prior to the adjournment, I was referring to my understanding that several Mitsubishi dealers around Australia had been provided with temporary financing arrangements by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd. Those arrangements expire on 30 June this year, so it is important that this bill be passed and thereby provide those dealers with another financing option. The car dealership financing guarantee is just one of a number of measures that the Rudd government is taking to support the automotive industry. Another measure has been the small business tax break, which provides a 50 per cent tax concession for eligible asset purchases, and the extension of that concession until December 2009. That concession provides a substantial incentive for small business owners to purchase a new vehicle for their business. In fact, following the recent budget, the Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Andrew McKellar, said:

… the tax break will help stimulate the new vehicle market and support jobs in the industry. Every plumber, every painter, every electrician—in fact every small business owner—is encouraged to take advantage of this offer … I encourage small business to bring forward purchasing decisions …

It is not only tradespeople who will benefit. All small businesses, including farmers, farm contractors and suppliers, can benefit and at the same time support their local auto dealer by taking advantage of the 50 per cent tax concession.

I would like to speak briefly about General Motors Holden Ltd, who have their manufacturing plant in Elizabeth, adjacent to my electorate of Makin. Many of the people who work at General Motors Holden live in the electorate of Makin. I personally know many of them and I have visited the plant on several occasions. I understand how important it is to them to ensure that General Motors Holden remain viable. Obviously, to remain viable they need to sell cars. I also understand that General Motors Holden have announced that they will be building a four-cylinder car as a part of their response to changes in the market. That announcement has certainly brought a great deal more confidence and security to those families who depend very much on the production of the company’s cars.

But the General Motors Holden plant at Elizabeth is important for another reason. In the northern suburbs of Adelaide 25 per cent of the economy is based on manufacturing. That manufacturing base is heavily dependent on General Motors Holden being there, not simply because firms in northern Adelaide are direct suppliers to General Motors Holden. In many cases operations there are not direct suppliers, but having General Motors Holden in the region indirectly underpins many of those manufacturing industries. So for the benefit of the entire region and the state it is important that we do what we can to ensure that the automotive industry remains viable in South Australia.

In respect of that I welcome the $6.2 billion announcement that the Rudd government made last year in support of the automotive industry around Australia and, in particular, in providing an allowance and support for the greener cars that will be made in the future. In fact last year, when the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, visited the GMH plant to talk about the $6.2 billion new car plan for Australia, I accompanied him, as did the member for Wakefield, and we had discussions with employers, the heads of GMH, as well as a number of employees who were on the shop floor. It was clear to me that the employees very much appreciated the support that this government was giving to ensure that their jobs were going to be supported in whatever way was possible. I was also at the plant last year when the Prime Minister and Minister Carr again went to it to announce $149 million worth of support for the new four-cylinder car that will be manufactured at the Elizabeth plant.

The Australian automotive industry employs around 63,000 people directly and it is estimated that a further number of people, probably more than 100,000, depend on the industry for their employment. In fact, industries associated with the automotive industry, such as the steel, plastics and glass industries and other industries, are heavily dependent in many cases on that industry. It is important to our national economy. The Rudd government understands that and for that reason has introduced a number of measures to support the automotive industry since coming to office. The establishment of the car dealership financing guarantee special purpose vehicle is another example of the Rudd government understanding the importance of the automotive industry and supporting that industry in Australia.— (Quorum formed)