Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2084

Senator CARR (3.31 p.m.) —Senator Coulter in raising this matter quite rightly expressed the Democrats' view about the relative merits of the obvious conflicting priorities that face any government at any particular time. What I felt came strongly out of Senator Cook's answer today was the government's commitment to the continued industrial development of the automotive industry. That is not to say there is not concern within the government as to the question of the environmental impact of the automotive industry. I think perhaps Senator Coulter has misread the situation a little.

  In terms of the people I came to this place to represent—working people, particularly those in Victoria—Senator Cook's statements were of some significance, given the importance of the manufacturing industry in Victoria and in particular the automotive industry in that state. I was pleased to hear about the government's ongoing commitment to ensure the viability of the manufacturing industry in Victoria.

  It also has to be understood that the government also has a commitment to improve environmental matters within industry itself. What furthers the issue is the need to ensure that there is a general modernisation of the Australian automotive fleet within this country. There is no clearer evidence of the damage done to the environment by the automotive industry than the fact that so many Australians cannot afford to buy more up to date motor cars.

  The real improvements in fuel efficiency in recent times have come with advances in technology. One of the great strengths of the Button automotive plan was the capacity to ensure the ongoing viability of a car industry in this country. The fact that Australians are able to afford better cars and cheaper cars—there has been an increase of 21 per cent in motor vehicle sales in just one month's figures—suggests that the government's program has been successful in that regard. I emphasise that that is the best way to improve air quality in relation to the automotive industry. In other words, we should seek to ensure that more Australians have greater access to modern cars.

  The other component, which perhaps Senator Coulter's remarks glossed over, is the impact of these programs on working people. Living standards are measured not just in environmental terms but also in material terms and the effects on those directly employed in the industry. Significantly, the present government is seeking to ensure that there are maximum levels of employment in the industry consistent with ensuring efficiency in producing effective cars.

  The alternative can be seen when we examine industries in other countries which have not been able to maintain a domestic automotive industry. In those countries we see old, inefficient, high-polluting cars and industries that are unable to meet the industrial needs of their people.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.