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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6481

Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (7:17 PM) —I thank the shadow minister for his question and the clarification of the question. We know that the Australian automotive industry comprises both auto assembly and component manufacturing. I have here beside me a member of parliament, the member for Isaacs, who has quite a large automotive component manufacturing sector in his electorate. He may even wish to contribute to the debate here and say how it is going. But the point I am making is that I do not think it is essential, with respect to the shadow minister, that a structural adjustment should inevitably constitute mergers.

Mr Ian Macfarlane —That is the scheme.

Dr EMERSON —But there could be advantages in mergers—

Mr Ian Macfarlane interjecting

Dr EMERSON —I am just saying there could be advantages in mergers, but it should not be that the entire future of the auto component manufacturing industry is dependent exclusively on mergers. That is the point I am making. Sometimes scale is not the only determinant of profitability, particularly of auto component manufacturing facilities. Again, we see a big future for component manufacturing in this country. It has come under pressure. There have been job losses in this area and we are very keen to support the component-manufacturing sector of the automotive industry through these challenging economic times. Why? Because we actually have a positive view about the future of automotive component manufacturing in this country and automotive car assembly and manufacturing more generally.

I am disappointed, I must say, with the implication in the question—in fact, the statement in the question—that we are just propping up auto component manufacturers in this country. They are under enormous pressure as a result of an extraordinary global situation, the worst recession in 75 years. We are achieving structural adjustment in this area. It is tragic that there have been job losses in this area and we are proud of the investment that we are putting into this sector. I am disappointed—and I think I can perhaps say that on behalf of the member for Isaacs and all of those members of parliament who have auto component manufacturers in their areas—that the shadow minister would conclude that the plan that we have put in place is only propping up these particular component manufacturers. I think we can do better than that. We are obviously much more optimistic about the future of component manufacturing in this country than the coalition is. The implication of the question is that they should not be supported. We reject that. I will provide to the shadow minister the specific detail which he has sought.

Mr Ian Macfarlane —We have already delivered a whole sheetful for you, mate, and you haven’t answered any of them.