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Monday, 20 June 1994
Page: 1746

Senator MARGETTS (5.54 p.m.) —The Greens (WA) oppose the Automotive Industry Authority Repeal Bill because it is part and parcel of the agenda to eliminate any sectoral approach to development in this nation. This move simply gives up any government responsibility for the type of investment or industries we have here. It sends a clear message that industries—such as the auto industry or the textile, clothing and footwear industries—can die. It says that the public has no place in determining what industries we will have, what we will import, what we will export or what we will make for ourselves. It says society has no place in the market, and the market has no responsibility to society.

  It moves away from the principle of economic sovereignty which says that both competitive advantage and social goals can be gained by choosing the arena in which we will compete, and making industry competitive. It says these are decisions for foreign boards of directors who, of course, are not likely to be concerned about Australia's social or environmental needs. It says we will simply serve international investors without inquiring what they will invest in. It says we will continue to depend on primary industrial exports and give manufacturing and other technical activities away. It says we will become dependent on imports for virtually everything we use.

  This is the wrong way to go in today's world. It simply sells Australia, its people and its environment down the river. So we oppose this bill. But given that the Greens can count, I would like to flag that we will be happy to support the amendment proposed by the Democrats, which will be moved by Senator Spindler, because we believe that the very least we can do in this kind of situation is to monitor the impact of any changes that we make, to find out whether or not the government's goals are operating, and if not, why not. If we have the chance, we should implement changes to ameliorate a situation which occurs. Because the automotive industry is of particular importance in the way in which we design our cities, in our levels of emissions, in our energy use and so on, we believe it is extremely important that there is a policy line and a means by which policy can be implemented in this area.