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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 360

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (19:26): I was pleased to welcome the Prime Minister and the Minister for Manufacturing to my electorate recently on a visit to the Ford factory in Broadmeadows. This visit marked the announcement of a $101 million investment package for Ford Broadmeadows, $34 million of which is the federal government's co-investment in the government's long-term commitment to the car industry, to the viability of Ford Broadmeadows and to the protection of viability of employment in my electorate.

The story of Broadmeadows and our local community is very much the story of modern Australia and the industries that built our economy and continue to provide Australia with its productive and innovative capacity. At the heart of these industries is the automotive industry, with Ford Broadmeadows an iconic employer of generations of migrants who settled in the region. Communities such as ours have been a bedrock for a dynamic, competitive and innovative manufacturing sector which the government, I am pleased to say, is committed to continuing to support.

According to the latest census data, 11,016 people—18 per cent of my constituents—are employed in the manufacturing industry and it will come as no surprise that they have very much welcomed the government's co-contribution of $34 million as a co-investment in the future of industry in our local area. They welcomed this as they welcomed the government's support for manufacturing through the $300 million Steel Transformation Plan and the $5.4 billion New Car Plan for a Greener Future and also the Clean Technology Program and the new R&D tax incentive.

The clear difference between the Labor federal government and an Abbott-led opposition is that we in the government are genuinely committed to maintaining and preserving Australian manufacturing jobs. We want to keep Australian jobs, we want to remain a country that makes things, and we do this by forging a real and genuine partnership with industries and workers. We are very much about a viable future for manufacturing in this country.

In contrast, the opposition leader, although he is happy to walk factory floors shaking hands and giving impressions, has no qualms about running back to the shadow cabinet table to endorse a $500 million cut to funding for 2015 and then another cut of $1 billion that is legislated to run until 2020 for direct support to our automotive industry. I am certain that the many workers who shook Tony Abbott's hand on those factory floors will be deeply disappointed that he is not fair dinkum enough to withstand the neo-Liberal ideology that continues to drive opposition policies. The majority of Australians want their government to support the car industry. The majority of Australians have said that time and time again. This is very much the will of the Australian people, and Mr Abbott ignores that will. In fact, Mr Abbott cannot continue to refer to the will of the Australian people when it suits his agenda only and to ignore that will when it does not suit him.

Let us put the cost of Australian investment in the manufacturing sector into perspective. The price of government assistance to the auto industry in Australia is not only amongst the lowest in the world, at approximately $17.80 per person, which is less than the price of footy ticket, but also stands in stark contrast with the United States, which invests, per head, a staggering $264.82. The US government provides nearly 15 times the rate of our own modest contribution to an industry which gives back to this country so much and gives back to the economy so much.

Recently, the Indonesian trade minister estimated that Indonesia required some $400 billion in infrastructure and manufacturing investment by about 2025. In highlighting the potential for Australia and our contribution to advance manufacturing around the world, he said: 'Another point to note is the investment in smart capital. More of that is coming into the non-mining space for the purposes of the development of infrastructure and also manufacturing.'

It reaffirms what the Gillard government has been saying and acting on all along. We cannot simply squander our productive and manufacturing capacity and our ability to innovate and rely on a resources boom, only to be left with an industrial graveyard—(Time expired)