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ABC News Breakfast -

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TRIOLI: The Federal Government and the Opposition have been trading blows over the Government's
$6.2 billion car industry assistance package. The Opposition says the package won't protect the
industry from the global financial crisis.

We're joined now by the Federal Industry Minister, Senator Kim Carr. Senator, good morning and
thank you for joining us.

CARR: Good morning.

TRIOLI: It's a difficult position that you're in order to try and guarantee that there won't be any
more job losses, that there won't be any more components manufacturers that hit the wall. So what's
your measure of success in putting together this rescue package?

CARR: We don't guarantee that there will be no more job losses or individual companies falling
over. What we do say though, is that to get a benefit from this package, then companies have to
invest.

Companies have to invest up to $18 billion to get the benefit of the $6 billion over 13 years that
the Commonwealth is providing. We will be working with the states, we'll be working with the
companies, we'll be working with the unions to ensure that the industry is able to transform
itself. We're about providing opportunities for high skilled, high wage jobs into the future. This
is an industry that's got to reinvent itself, and we're there to stand shoulder to shoulder with
the industry because it's absolutely at the backbone of Australian manufacturing.

TRIOLI: So what exactly is your measure of success then? Do you want to see a certain number of
green-type cars produced by a certain number of manufacturers here in Australia? Do you have those
clear benchmarks in place?

CARR: We do. And we don't just want to see a green car, we want to see a green industry. We want to
see new economic opportunities arise as the industry transforms itself, that we're able to develop
new models. New technologies put into existing models. We want to open up new markets. We want to
ensure that we have a greater export focus. We want to ensure that our research and development is
expanded, that our research agencies are better integrated into the industry, but we concentrate on
innovation, we concentrate on greater skills formation, and we want to develop new opportunities
across a wide range of industries which, of course, work so well in the automotive industry.
Whether it be steel, whether it be aluminium, whether it be plastics, whether it be electronics.

We want to ensure that this very, very important industry is, of course, part of the 15 countries
around the world that can make a car from scratch to show room. We think we've got an important
part to play in that, and we believe that there is a very strong future for this country and, of
course, for this industry if we're able to make the right decisions now.

TRIOLI: But Senator Carr, we've heard this so many times before, that the investment has to be
there, the R & D has to be there, that it's such an important industry. And yet, after it receiving
more financial support and taxpayer support than any other industry, we're still watching it at the
brink of a demise.

CARR: Well Virginia, that's not true. It has not received more support than any other industry.
There are a number of myths that are peddled regularly. What, of course, is happening is that we
are in a business of co-investing. We are operating on the basis of mutual obligation. This is not
a blank cheque. This is about developing capability. It's about ensuring long term, high skilled,
high wage jobs to workers today and for their kids. This is about making sure that Australia is at
the cutting edge of new technologies, and that we're able to develop new opportunities that bring
Australia forward to an advanced industrial nation that we are.

TRIOLI: This is - one of the commentaries that you've received today in the paper. This is Laura
Tingle in the Financial Review: "The new car plan released yesterday is sloppy, badly constructed,
fiscally negligent, irresponsible, protectionist, irrational appeasement of rent seekers, which is
now being camouflaged, not only as a response to climate change, but the global financial crisis."
They're harsh words indeed, Senator.

CARR: Well, in Canberra, there are a lot of people that, of course, in the Press Gallery, that are
a long way away from ordinary people. They don't necessarily have a very strong understanding of
what people are going through at the moment.

TRIOLI: No But Laura Tiingle...

CARR: And, of course, Laura's views are...

TRIOLI: ... has a strong understanding of the financial fundamentals of it.

CARR: ... balanced against a wide range of other views. I mean, there is no doubt that governments
have to make choices, and that there are, of course, barrow pushers for a range of choices that are
being pursued. And I am not surprised that there are people in the Press Gallery in Canberra which
have a very different view to what ordinary people are thinking and saying. And, of course -
because people want to have economic opportunities ... they want to enjoy prosperity. And the blue
collar workers want to be able to say they are part of the prosperity of this country, and they
have an expectation that their government will act decisively, will get us through these economic
difficulties as quickly as possible, and that will take opportunities to strengthen the economy.
And that's what the Labor Government is doing.

TRIOLI: On that issue of mutual obligation, as you've described it this morning in relation to the
package that you're offering, but what you expect to see in terms of investment from the car
industry. Are you saying that if that 18 billion over that time period from the industry isn't
forthcoming, if they don't invest it, that your $6.2 billion plan won't go forward in full?

CARR: Well, what I'm saying is, you don't get money unless you invest. This is a co-investment
arrangement. This is an agreement based on inn...

TRIOLI: So if they don't come investing that way, the money could be called off, could be stopped?

CARR: Well, it won't be spent. What we're saying is, that if the companies don't come to the party,
they don't get public support. This is about co-investment. It's about mutual obligation. It's
about developing an innovative future. It's about ensuring that we have these new investments, so
we get new products. We have vehicles that people want to buy. We're able to develop the sort of
export markets that we need. And we want to ensure the research and development is undertaken, a
new investment in capital is undertaken, that new job opportunities arise, the skills formations
that follow from that.

This is an incredibly important industry to manufacturing, an incredibly important part of
Australian society.

We simply can't stand on the sidelines and watch events overtake us without decisive action by
government, and that's what we are doing. We're providing that leadership, we're providing that
decisive action in these difficult times, so that we can ensure that we get through this storm as
quickly as possible.

TRIOLI: Senator Kim Carr, thank you very much.

CARR: Thank you very much.