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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Page: 8

Mr FAWCETT (12:31 PM) —I rise today to talk about families in the electorate of Wakefield and their future security. I am particularly glad today to be able to talk about an announcement that was made by General Motors Holden about the export of a car to America. The Pontiac G8, which is based on the SS Commodore and which is manufactured at the Elizabeth plant in Wakefield, will be sent to the United States. Those exports are expected to start later this year. So, whilst this is an announcement about exports, for the families who depend on GMH in Elizabeth and the parts and components suppliers this means that GMH will be able to use far more of the capacity it has at that plant. The plant has had a sizeable investment by GMH. That investment in the infrastructure is a long-term commitment to South Australia. This commitment to export vehicles to the United States provides certainty for those workers. They can now plan for their families’ future.

This export opportunity has not come about just by luck but because of the dedication and hard work of the workers at GMH, the people who assemble the cars. It has come about because of the innovative designs of the design teams at Holden, both in Elizabeth and in Melbourne, where the engines are made. It has also come about because this government has made a significant investment in research, development and innovation. This investment has meant that Australian automotive products are world-beaters—they are competitive on the global scene.

Automotive sector exports increased from only seven per cent in the 1990s to 38 per cent in 2006. That is fantastic news. Compared to our domestic market, the world market is huge. Some 65 million vehicles a year are purchased overseas. So the more competitive we can make our product, the more export opportunities there will be and the more certainty there will be for those who depend upon the automotive sector.

This government, through its various commitments to the automotive sector, is spending some $7.3 billion to make sure that our auto sector is competitive and can get into the overseas market. That is why we are now exporting some 30,000 vehicles to the Middle East. This Pontiac order from America is expected to grow larger during the life of this vehicle. Because of improved technology and fuel efficiency, engines manufactured by GM here are being exported around the world. Whilst there is fear, for example, about imports from China, a lot of people do not realise that we are exporting things like engines to China. GMH at the moment is exporting vehicles to Asia, Korea, the Middle East, US, Brazil and South Africa. Overall, GM has exported some 770,000 vehicles.

This export order for this Commodore model, the G8 Pontiac, is a fantastic story for GM workers and their families. It means that the product they are producing is competitive overseas. The world market is huge, so this will provide certainty to them and their families. I welcome the announcement today by GMH and I congratulate the Australian government on its ongoing commitment to and serious support for—to the tune of $7.3 billion—the automotive industry in Australia.