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Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Page: 1538


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (19:45): Last Friday was a very sad day in Australia's manufacturing history. Ninety-one years of Ford manufacturing in Australia ended and 633 workers in Broadmeadows and Geelong lost their jobs. A total of 1,216 workers have been affected by this decision and 122 additional workers will be unemployed by next June. From other manufacturing closures, we know that about one-third of those who became unemployed on Friday will be re-employed within Ford—that is the fortunate bit. Unfortunately, we know that around one-third of those who became unemployed on Friday will now depend on casual and insecure work—and, even worse, around one-third will probably never work again.

The terrible tragedy is that this did not have to happen. This is not an inevitable outcome or a fait accompli. It was this Liberal government that pushed car manufacturers into leaving. They killed our $21.5 billion industry. First, they cut $500 million assistance in the industry; and then they closed the door on any future discussions with Holden or Toyota. By the end of 2017, 2,900 Holden jobs in Victoria and South Australia will also go. In Victoria alone, 3½ thousand Toyota workers are set to lose their jobs. But in this trail of destruction that is symbolic of this Liberal government, the destruction does not stop here. The real cost is to the supply chain—$2.25 billion is spent by car manufacturers every year in auto supply companies and they in turn employ 18,000 full-time workers. It is estimated that around 30,000 people Australia-wide work to supply parts to the car industry.

Allen Consulting Group, using economic analysis from Monash University, found that, when Australia loses its car industry, our GDP will be $7.3 billion smaller by 2018, a mere two years away. This is shameful from a government that claims to be all about jobs and growth, because nothing could be further from the truth. Where are the jobs and growth in Broadmeadows and Geelong? What does the Prime Minister intend to do to support those workers that are being unemployed. Or does he intend to leave it up to the Andrews government, which seems to be the only government interested in defending and working out re-employment strategies for those workers?

It is a huge social and economic mistake to force our car manufacturers to leave in the name of global competition. With the end of the automotive industry, our knowledge of metals casting will dissipate and the skilled workers at Toyota and Holden will have no equivalent to take their skills. Our skills in robotics, and our ability to keep those skills, may well also disappear. The end of the automotive industry will mean the end of so many workers' livelihoods—families who for generations have worked at Ford and some of the other car manufacturing companies. This is a very sad time for Victorians: thanks to the Liberal Party here in Canberra, they have been beset by this tragedy when it did not need to happen.