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Transcript of doorstop interview: Ford Geelong: 23 August 2013: FBT, costings



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Transcript

The Hon Joe Hockey MP Shadow Treasurer Coalition Campaign Spokesman

23 August 2013

Doorstop - Ford Geelong

Subjects: FBT, Costings

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

Joe Hockey

Well I'm glad and I'm sad to be here at the Ford manufacturing plant in Geelong with my colleague, Sophie Mirabella the Member for Indi and Shadow spokesperson for the Coalition on Industry and Manufacturing and also with Peter Read the Liberal Candidate here in Corio and Sarah Henderson the Liberal Candidate in Corangamite.

Kevin Rudd needs to explain to the workers at Ford who have been stood down for six days, exactly why they are on half pay because of Kevin Rudd's FBT decision. The only friend, the only friend of the motor vehicle industry in the Australia is the Coalition. Kevin Rudd can run down the road handing out blank cheques to manufacturers but if people are pulling back on buying the motor vehicles, there is not market, there is no business. The fact of the matter is Ford has stood down its workers for six days because of Kevin Rudd's poorly considered, poorly thought through decision in relation to Fringe Benefits Tax changes on motor vehicles. Fully one fifth of all motor vehicles sold in Australia are leased or a part of the company fleets or are part of a leasing program. The fact is that now the true impact of Kevin Rudd's decision is being felt on the ground. Job security is going, and the fact of the matter is that everything Kevin Rudd touches when it comes to the economy turns to custard. This is a terrible shame and I truly feel for the workers involved and their families. It has been hard enough to be employed at Ford because of decisions recently made but now to be in a situation where because of Kevin Rudd's decision, Ford has had to pull back its assembly lines... this is almost inconceivable incompetence from an incompetent government.

Now Kevin Rudd can talk about cuts, he can talk about jobs, means nothing when his actions have a direct negative impact on the motor vehicle industry. And you can do all you want to keep throwing money at the supply side of the equation, but if you kill demand because of bad government decisions then it does cost jobs, and we're seeing it right here right now in Geelong.

I say again, it's not a case of being the best friend of the motor vehicle industry, it's a case of being the only friend of the motor vehicle industry, and that's the Coalition. I will ask Sophie to say something about motor vehicle manufacturing...

[Sophie speaks]

Journalist

Mr Hockey, Saul Eslake says the Coalition has a $30 b costings hole. He's a respected economist, how damaging is that to you?

Joe Hockey

It is not because his figures are wrong.

Journalist

[Inaudible question about FBT changes]

Joe Hockey

No, they, the government made an announcement and the intent of the announcement was from the point of announcement. And that immediately had an impact on the motor vehicle industry, there's no doubt about it. How else do we explain the very significant drop in orders for new motor vehicles, how else do we explain Ford standing down its workers for six days in addition to the days they were already standing down their workers? Now, I just find it incredibly hard to believe that Kevin Rudd would be so hypocritical as to run around saying that he cares about the motor vehicle industry when right here on the ground in Geelong you could see the negative impact of Kevin Rudd's decision in relation to FBT. It's their decision. We've been travelling around the country; car dealers right around the country are saying the same thing. Orders have dropped out because of the massive uncertainty about FBT changes. And the people that are hurt the most, unlike what the government said "they're driving Mercedes", no they're not they're driving Fords, they're driving Toyota's. As a statement from Hyundai said just a few days ago, they're driving Hyundai's, and now you're seeing a significant drop in motor vehicle sales directly as a result of Kevin Rudd's incompetence and the fact of the matter is when Kevin Rudd and Chris Bowen announced that decision in relation to FBT it became plainly obvious that is was such a bad decision even Wayne Swan rejected it, and Wayne Swan was the king of bad decisions when it came to taxation, I mean there has been no greater benchmark for bad decisions than Wayne Swan, and even then Chris Bowen picked up the trashy decision making process and the trashy decisions that even Wayne Swan rejected and now you can see workers being stood down at Ford.

Journalist

Six months ago you said that the orders had dropped because people didn't want to drive Falcons anymore, now you're changing your tune?

Joe Hockey

No, because people were still buying Fords, and hopefully are still buying Fords, but the fact is that this decision has now had a profoundly negative impact, it's the government's decision FBT, and it's the Coalition that will not proceed with it, it's bad policy, it’s terrible terrible economic policy, it's also terrible politics you would think because Bill Shorten was on radio this morning saying everything's fine, no train accident here in relation to Ford, everything’s going fine, but then when you go and have a look at it, here at the Ford motor vehicle plant workers are being stood down because of the government's incompetence

Journalist

There are other factors at play in the motor industry, and you're leading in the polls, are you suggesting that Ford would make a massive decision like this purely based on a policy that might not even see the light of day?

Joe Hockey

Well it is seeing the light of day because it's hitting the ground, and I'd ask you to go and visit any of the major dealerships and ask them how their sales are going, and the latest data that came out indicated that sales have dropped markedly in the first half of August, compared to the first half of July, and still even then the first half of July had a flow over from the previous financial year in relation to audits

Sophie Mirabella

This is continuation, the immediate job losses were in the car leasing sector, there are hundreds of jobs that have gone there, they were the first to be hit overnight, and it's trickled right through to the dealerships and now right through to manufacturing

Joe Hockey

- and there's 1160 workers here at Ford that have been stood down as a result of Kevin Rudd's decision on FBT, and then he goes and cries crocodile tears about jobs and the motor vehicle industry, I mean cut us a break here. Kevin Rudd just, he's not being honest with people, what a surprise that should be

Journalist

So you've flown down specifically to stand here today and make this announcement, is this grandstanding?

Joe Hockey

And also to work closely with Peter Read and Sarah, who both outstanding candidates and both people that are fighting to build a stronger motor vehicle industry, it's only the Coalition that will build things, it's only the Coalition that will build a stronger economy and if you have a stronger economy you get more demand for motor vehicles, you get more demand for motor vehicles, it's the best chance that you can keep people in jobs, ok anything else?

Journalist

Mr Hockey I want to go back to Saul Eslake's comments, I mean it's all well and good to say he's got them wrong but he is using your figures

Joe Hockey

No he's not using our figures.

Journalist

Well how is he getting them wrong?

Joe Hockey

Well, for example Saul Eslake costed in his numbers today the reduction in refugee intake from 20,000 to 13,750 as a saving of around $450 million when Chris Bowen said himself that the cost was $1.3billion over 4 years, now that's number one. Number 2, Saul Eslake got the timing wrong and the numbers wrong in relation to the delayed increase in the superannuation guarantee from 9% to 12%, and massively understated

it, so please, I not going to be responding in a haphazard way to numbers that are incorrect put out by someone that is not a participant in the process, I have a high regard for Saul Eslake as an economist, but when it comes to actually doing budget numbers it's an entirely different thing, we've got a proper process, we've gone through the parliamentary budget office, our numbers are absolutely right, our policies have gone to the parliamentary budget office, and you will see that only under the Coalition will you start to get some common sense back into the fiscal situation and head the country back to a surplus

Journalist

When will you release those numbers?

Joe Hockey

You'll see them before the election, anything else?

Journalist

Malcolm Turnbull and Alan Tudge say it will be in the final week of the campaign, can you confirm that?

Joe Hockey

Well it will be in the final week of the campaign, we'll have something to say then, we might have something to say before the final week of the campaign as well. Let's not just keep going around in circles on this issue because it's like debates, you know half a campaign is spent debating debates, and the other half of a campaign is spent costing costings. How about we deal with the policies and he we have a government policy that is costing jobs, nothing more evident here!

Journalist

Aside from withdrawing the FBT changes what are you going to do to help Ford workers?

Joe Hockey

Well you've got to grow a strong economy and that's the best way to do it, if you've got a strong economy you create demand for motor vehicles and if you create demand for motor vehicles then people have their jobs in the motor vehicle industry, right from the assembly plants right through to car sales and service and spare parts and components, it's pretty obvious, it's pretty obvious if you have a strong economy, and only the Coalition will deliver the strong economy, then you do have opportunities and for these poor buggers, when Ford closes as its declared its intention in a few years time, they want to know there are alternative jobs around, under Labor there's rising unemployment, and I mean let's be fair dinkum about it, Kevin Rudd inherited an unemployment rate with a 4 in front of it, and now, Australia's going to have an unemployment rate with 6 in front of it. Up to 800,000 Australians are going to be unemployed if Kevin Rudd is re-elected, maybe more, its only the Coalition that going to drive that down, it's only the Coalition that's going to deliver a stronger economy, ok

Journalist

Eric Abetz has suggested that a Coalition government would intervene in wage settlements if rates were too high, is this Coalition policy or is Mr Abetz freelancing?

Joe Hockey

Oh look I'll leave that comment, that's yesterday's comment I not going to respond to yesterday’s comment.

[ENDS]