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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 275

North Melbourne Regional Development Australia Report: Manufacturing

(Question No. 594)

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, in writing, on 14 November 2014:

(1) Is the Minister aware that according to the 2012 North Melbourne Regional Development Australia report Manufacturing in Melbourne's North: Now and into the Future, manufacturing is still the largest regional employer in Melbourne's north, employing 53,160 workers across the region, followed by health/social assistance with 48,791 workers, retail with 42,188 workers and education with 33,707 workers, totalling 382,967 workers in the region.(2) Is the Minister aware of modelling by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) contained in the report, that forecast that the closure of the Ford Australia factory would result in 16,000 jobs being lost throughout Victoria after just one year.(3) Is the Minister aware that NIEIR forecast that after one year, (a) 600 jobs would be lost in the City of Moreland, and (b) 1,600 jobs would be lost in the City of Hume.(4) Is the Minister aware that the most strategically important and largest manufacturing industries in North Melbourne are (a) automotive (8,696 employees), (b) food (8,514 employees), and (c) chemicals (6,267 employees).(5) Is the Minister aware that the latest Census Data shows that 5,911 people who live in the electoral division of Wills are employed in manufacturing, which accounts for 8 per cent of total employment locally, and that in the electoral division of Calwell there are 9,185 people employed in manufacturing, which accounts for 14 per cent of employment locally.(6) What industry, re-skilling, and job opportunities will the Government invest in to help regenerate the local economy and job market in Melbourne's Northern Suburbs.

Mr Pyne: The Minister for Employment has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

The Australian Government is aware of the report and the challenges being faced in North Melbourne and other regions affected by structural change. Transitioning from heavy industrial manufacturing to higher value added production calls for a national, strategic response rather than a piecemeal response based on hand-outs and subsidies.

In this respect, it should be noted that in 2012 the previous government announced a new subsidy to Holden, which it claimed would 'guarantee' its operations until 2022. This 'guarantee', of course, proved to be illusory. I also note the comments by senior General Motors management that the company would not have continued Holden's manufacturing operations in Australia, regardless of how much Government funding was provided. The same is true of Ford. Toyota, of course, was seriously undermined by the AMWU's court action to prevent its employees from even considering changes to its enterprise agreement that would have enabled the company's Melbourne operations to become more efficient and competitive, without impacting on pay and conditions.

I also note recent media reports on 1 December 2014 on the previous Government's automotive "assistance" policies, which stated that:

" The true scale of the former Rudd Government ' s waste in supporting the collapsing Australian car manufacturing industry is revealed with new figures showing taxpayers funded almost a third of the cost of each four-cylinder Ford Falcon.

" In 2009, $42 million of taxpayer money was pumped into the four-cylinder Falcon and two other fuel-efficient Ford vehicles under the $500 million " Green Car Innovation Fund " .

" The four-cylinder Falcon has effectively received a subsidy of almost $8000 on each $37,000 vehicle — or $11,600 on each car bought by private buyers and businesses if you exclude Ford ' s company car fleet. "

The Government understands the considerable impact the exits of Ford, Holden and Toyota will have on the region. That is why the Government announced a $155 million Growth Fund that supports initiatives to assist workers transition to new jobs, businesses find new markets and invest in capital equipment, and regions invest in infrastructure projects.

The Government is committed to helping more people into employment and provides a range of employment programmes and incentives to help job seekers get and keep a job including employment support available through Job Services Australia.