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Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Page: 2197

Mr BALDWIN (PatersonParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry) (15:39): It is a pleasure to rise in this debate. Sales in our automotive industry are increasing. In fact, they have increased by 10 per cent this year. Already we have seen 1.1 million annual sales through 67 brands and 360 models in our market. Unfortunately, Australian manufactured vehicles have seen a nine per cent reduction in sales. We do not have a sales problem in Australia; we have a particular problem with sales of Australian manufactured vehicles. The automotive industry employs 45,000 Australians and contributes some $5.4 billion to the bottom line of our economy, but we have huge competing pressures. These figures have been around for quite some period. One would think that members opposite would have heard their voice, particularly the members for Makin and Wakefield.

When Mitsubishi shut down, did we hear a word? No, not really. When Ford announced its closure, was there a hue and cry from the Labor Party? No, not really. What did we hear? We heard that they were going to introduce a $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax. And what did members opposite say about that? To quote the former Prime Minister, 'Zip'.

What we are seeing now is feigned outrage. In support, their Premier in South Australia, Mr Jay Weatherill, has had everything to say but originally he agreed to a nonpartisan way of finding a solution to this problem. Now we have politicisation of the issue. I put that down to the fact that there is an election coming up in South Australia very shortly. They care very little about the workers.

Mr Perrett interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is sailing very close to the wind.

Mr BALDWIN: Given they are all union members on that side, that careless attitude is probably amplified by the union officials in the AMWU representing the workers. People like Mr Smith refuse to budge on this argument. They say their workers have already done the heavy lifting and now it is time for the government to do so. To quote the article in the paper today:

For General Motors in Australia, wages for trades employees have increased by about 76 per cent since 2000, and 21 per cent since 2008, jumping from $679.20 a week in 2000 to $1194.50 a week this year ... for a 38-hour week. Workers are paid shift penalties and overtime rates, with Sunday shifts paid at 2½ times the normal weekday rate.

In good times, that is great, that is acceptable. But when you have an industry which is fighting to keep its jobs, the union would rather say, 'We need to maintain our standards; we don't need to maintain jobs. We need to maintain the high standards we have achieved'—and good luck to them—'but we don't need to maintain jobs.'

The coalition is focusing on keeping jobs in Australia but we have to be competitive. We need to reduce the component cost per motor vehicle by over $3,700 to remain competitive. We need everyone to play a part. This government has already committed a billion dollars from 2016 on—$1 billion extra. In contrast, what did the previous government do with its Green Car Innovation Fund? It cut $1.2 billion. You see, the former Labor government thought the way you grew the motor vehicle industry was to increase wage and production costs, pull money out of the industry and whack an FBT on it. It should be no surprise to anyone that there is virtually no-one on the opposition benches who has had their own skin in the game, who has been in business and understands the costs of operating a business and what is required to make your product competitive.

If we want to see the motor vehicle industry survive in Australia, we need to increase sales. That also needs the cooperation of the Australian public at large. There is no point producing more vehicles in Australia if, indeed, Australian consumers do not want to buy them. I am yet to see a campaign by the Australian union movement demanding that their workers buy Australian made cars, or to see union officials driving Australian made cars. We see their hypocrisy.

Mr Perrett: I'll send you their email address.

Mr BALDWIN: Don 't send me the email; show me the outcomes of how many Australian made cars—not Australian branded but Australian made—your union mates drive. How many Camrys do they drive? (Time expired)