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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11512


Ms MacTIERNAN (Perth) (11:35): Today, I want to contest the claim that the government is delivering on its promised Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. I note in passing that the member moving this motion, whom I have a high regard for in a general sense, did, however, preside over the demise of a very innovative biotech industry in her own electorate—a business that was hounded out of this country by a witch-hunt orchestrated by a multinational company.

But that is not going to be my focus today. My focus will be on the very real prospect that, in Australia, we can in fact have an automotive industry. There is a very real possibility for not only an Australian but, indeed, a Western Australian car-manufacturing industry. What we need to do is move away entirely from the existing way in which we are delivering motor vehicles and take on board an entirely new, 21st century approach to manufacturing. That approach is one that focuses not on mass production—large production runs of a standardised product—but one that has a much more individuated production technique that allows for a greater degree of individuation and much smaller production runs. That, as we know, is the way in which manufacturing has to move.

Simmons Global is a Western Australian engineering outfit that has for the past 15 years been providing a great deal of engineering innovation to some of WA's largest civil and mining projects. This is a group of people who are out there doing innovation that has been solving many problems with big projects in Western Australia. Dave Simmons proposes that if we took a different approach to vehicle manufacturing, if we used the space frame construction techniques that are used in aeronautical engineering and in a number of construction processes, then we could manufacture vehicles on a much smaller scale and manufacture vehicles such as those that are especially designed for use in mining outfits or used in municipal settings, for emergency services, such as police vehicles, and that we could actually construct. We would not have to be constructing the sorts of volumes we have seen using traditional manufacturing techniques.

Dave has made a submission to the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry that is looking at the future of the automotive industry. He has set out the case for changing the rules that regulate the automotive transformation scheme to allow new manufacturers of motor vehicles to come in and apply for financial assistance. We know we are not going to have a manufacturing industry in this country if it is a case of just getting out of the way. We need active engagement in R&D. We have to get involved there, providing these opportunities. Dave is very clear that he wants to have a partnership with government, bringing on board private sector equity to combine with resourcing under the Automotive Transformation Scheme to get this idea off the ground. This is going to provide an opportunity for all of those parts manufacturers who are facing a very bleak future to be incorporated into a new model of automotive manufacturing.

I strongly urge the government to review its position and to not rule out, as they have, out of hand, an engagement in a new automotive industry. We can do this. In my electorate I see the magnificent success of companies like Hofmann Engineering that are able to export around the world. We can do this. Here we have a smart 21st century company. Let's support it.

Debate adjourned.