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Toyota should substantiate their claim

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John Hewson Leader of the Opposition M e d i a R e l e a s e

110/92 9 April 1992


A senior executive of Toyota in Japan is reported to have called for indefinite maintenance of the current motor vehicle industry plan regardless of a change in government. He is also reported to have called on Mr Dawkins to convey these concerns to the Leader of the Opposition.

I find these reports remarkable.

I challenge Toyota to demonstrate to me personally that they will be worse off under Fightback!, which offers not only a gradual reduction in tariffs but also a radical program of micro-economic reform and macro-economic stability designed to reduce costs and real interest rates over time. Fightback will deliver genuine

long term cost reductions through greater efficiency in key areas such as the labour market, transport and energy generation. These reforms will be implemented rapidly in our first term of

government giving industry, including Toyota, time to adjust to gradual tariff reductions.

In contrast, the Button car plan was not accompanied by

coordinated micro-economic reform, and took place in an unstable environment caused by Keating's boom-bust macroeconomic policies.

Can Toyota explain what it has to fear from further relatively small tariff reductions accompanied by coordinated economic reform? Even under the poorly implemented Button car plan, which saw large tariffs reductions without adequate economic reform by the government, Toyota gained the number one position in the market.

Mr Dawkins was eager to use Toyota's comments to attack the Opposition and push for continuing special assistance for the foreign-owned motor vehicle industry at the expense of Australian consumers, exporters and business in general.

But did he bother to explain why or what his government intends to do about the car industry in the longer term?

In that context, Mr Dawkins should recall the Industry

Commission's suggestion in its 1990 Automotive Industry report that "when announcing the assistance arrangements for the period 1993 to 2000, the Government indicates to the industry that assistance reductions will continue after 2000 with the objective of removing the industry's special assistance status within four or five years." (emphasis added)




In a submission to the Industry Commission, the Australian automotive industry stated:

"A comprehensive synchronised reform programme is the only way to ensure a vigorous and profitable manufacturing sector in Australia which makes use of the good underlying conditions which exist."

This is what Fightback! offers and what Labor has failed to provide.