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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 300

Automotive Industry


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Sinodinos. As recently as yesterday in the Senate you claimed that the government is going to help workers that will lose their jobs when the Holden and Toyota factories close. Exactly how are you going to do that?


Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesMinister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (14:43): By continuing the programs that are already underway. We have had a $155 million Growth Fund, of which $100 million has come from the federal government. There have been contributions from the state governments and from the car companies. We are going to continue intensive employment assistance. That will be available to workers all the way through to 2018. With the Victorian government and with the South Australia government, we are looking at: community-based initiatives that make sure that workers who are transitioning are, as far as possible, being given the opportunity to find jobs in their local communities; and how to strengthen the bases of those local communities.

We are taking this very seriously. We are looking at upstream and downstream linkages. For example, there are automotive components and suppliers who have, obviously, traditionally relied on the automotive industry for orders. We have had programs underway for some time to help them to diversify. Not all of them will be able to diversify—we accept that. But, where possible, we are giving them the opportunity to diversify into related fields and, where possible, also providing export assistance so they can do more on world markets.

Over the next few months, we are also going to be looking at ways in which our trade deals can be made more specific in terms of the access that can be provided for people in these particular sectors. There is a lot going on. There is a lot more that can be done through existing programs, and, where we need to, we can provide additional resources—for example, in the employment services space—to fund priority projects. We are doing all of that; we are standing by the workers in those industries and we are promoting high-end research skills. Car companies have recognised that those skills are very important as part of their global value chains. It is an area we can really exploit—high-end engineering R&D.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Carr, a supplementary question.