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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6480


Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (7:14 PM) —I will try to get some more details to supplement the answer that I am about to give. The government has invested something in the order of $6.2 billion in the automotive sector. For a shadow minister who is arguing for more money, that is a very substantial amount of money.


Mr Ian Macfarlane —I will not be verballed.


Dr EMERSON —I am doing this in good faith. My understanding is that you are arguing that there should be more funding for the automotive sector.


Mr Ian Macfarlane interjecting


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—There is no point of order.


Dr EMERSON —Thank you for your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker. Mercy, mercy! This is an enormous investment in the future of the automotive industry in Australia. We do have a very positive view of an automotive industry—but an automotive industry that will need to continue to boost its productivity and to restructure. During these incredibly challenging economic times—the deepest global recession since the Great Depression around three-quarters of a century ago—the automotive industry here in Australia, as I think the shadow minister would genuinely agree, has responded very strongly when automotive plants around the world are under enormous pressure. They are merging. They are closing. We see this in daily news bulletins.

It is an enormous investment that the Australian government is putting into the automotive sector. We have three strong car makers—obviously, Holden, Toyota and Ford. I am not, I must confess, absolutely clear about the suggestion in the question that there should be mergers. I only ask this in good faith—


Mr Ian Macfarlane interjecting


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —No, the minister—


Dr EMERSON —I am happy for him to come back to that.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for Groom, with a clarification?


Mr Ian Macfarlane —The question was about the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program, and it particularly relates to component companies. We are not expecting Toyota to merge with Ford in Australia.


Dr EMERSON —I thank the shadow minister for the clarification. When he asked the question, I did interpret it as possibly—


Mr Ian Macfarlane —It is your scheme. It is the automotive sector structural adjustment scheme.


Dr EMERSON —I am trying to interpret your question, or at least to understand it.


Mr Ian Macfarlane —Mr Deputy Speaker, I will repeat it for him.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for Groom.