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The government introduces major uncertainty into the future of the motor vehicle industry



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Leader of the Opposition

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PRESS RELEASE 126/83

THE GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES MAJOR UNCERTAINTY INTO THE FUTURE OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE INDUSTRY

"By requesting a review of the long-term motor vehicle plan, the Government is introducing uncertainty and unpredicta­ bility into an industry which desperately needs stability," the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Andrew Peacock, M.P., said

today.

"That need was sadly highlighted this week by the announcement by General-Motors Holden's that it would be closing its Acacia Ridge plant with the loss of 880 jobs in Queensland.

"The current long-term plan had been formulated in late 1981 by the previous Government. It followed lengthy negotiations with all sectors of the industry and major reports by the Industries Assistance Commission. It gave the motor vehicle and

component manufacturers a sound basis for moving towards a more viable internationally competitive industry. It allowed for gradual change to plan for investment and employment opportunities.

"When in Opposition, the Labor Party's spokesman on Industry and Commerce, Mr Hurford, had suggested a number of amendments to the framework but he clearly indicated that the basic principles would be retained.

. "Now the Government is suggesting that years of planning could be overturned. All previous Labor Party policy has apparently been abandoned. The industry and its tens of thousands of employees have been left in^limbo to await the results of yet

another Inquiry.

"The Minister has not been able to suggest what parts of the post-1984 Plan will be examined. However, he has suggested that at least one of the five motor vehicle manufacturers must cease production in Australia.

"How is an industry supposed to plan in this environment?

"Australia does have the engineering expertise, and the potential volume provided by export facilitation, to compete internationally. Most of the motor vehicle companies and many component manufacturers have taken initiatives in developing

export markets.

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"Now that initiative is being eroded by the indecisiveness of the Government.

"The Government has no difficulty in deciding to support full wage indexation which will further erode Australia's international competitiveness. However, when it comes to making decisions for Australia as a whole the Government just can't make up its mind."

Mr Peacock also said that the closure of Acacia Ridge in 1984 clearly supported the assessment by the Metal- Trades Industry Association that job loss in the key metals and engineering sector will continue into next year. The closure also again

showed the folly of the commitment to full wage indexation and it gave the lie to the Government's claim that the economy has bottomed out.

"Whichever way you look at it, this Government's policies cost jobs. Sadly it often takes an example of major retrenchment such as Acacia Ridge to highlight the need for better planning and improved cost competitiveness. However, again the Government

shows no sign of listening to the warning signals."

CANBERRA, 9 October, 1983.