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Monday, 20 June 1994
Page: 1748

Senator SHORT (6.07 p.m.) —Before I say a couple of words about this amendment, I wish to pay tribute to the staff of the Automotive Industry Authority. Over the last few years, the authority has played an important role. The staff have done their job well and conscientiously. I hope that, from a staffing point of view, things work out for them. I know that some will be going to the department and that others will be going to other jobs. I want to add the coalition's voice of thanks to the staff of the authority over the last few years.

  Having said that, I want to put on the record that, whilst I understand the point that Senator Spindler is attempting to make with his amendment, the coalition will not be supporting the amendment. It seems to us that, if we were to agree to an amendment of this nature in relation to the automotive industry, why should we not have the same for every industry which either is subject to a sectoral plan or is not subject to a sectoral plan? There are alternative ways of reporting to the parliament on the state of the industry. We are in the process of upgrading the significance of annual reports. I note the minister's undertaking that the department will have a significant segment on the industry in its annual report. We think that is the appropriate way to go and for that reason, we will not be supporting the amendment.

  I wish to pick up another point made by Senator Spindler. He said that this is an important industry and that therefore we need this type of amendment. The implication is that, if we do not support this amendment then we do not think the automotive industry is important. I have to categorically say that, from the coalition's point of view, that quite frankly does not make much sense. We have reiterated time and time again the importance of this industry. We regard it, as it quite patently is, as the most important manufacturing industry in Australia. We hope that it will thrive and become more internationally competitive in an environment that is provided for it to be healthy and a strong investor of both capital and jobs in Australia.

  In declining to support the Australian Democrats' amendment, the coalition again wants to put it on the record that we do regard the automotive industry as very important. With respect to my friend Senator Spindler, I really do not see any logical connection at all between the significance of the automotive industry and the particular amendment that he is moving.