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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 221

Automotive Industry

The SPEAKER: I give the call to the honourable Leader of the Opposition but I would ask him please not to stand while ministers are answering.

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:33): I was watching the clock. Thank you, Madam Speaker, for your guidance. My question is to the Prime Minister. Today the Australian Financial Review reported that Toyota had blamed unions in a meeting with the Treasurer on 3 December. The Treasurer has since confirmed that that report is correct. However, Toyota denies the report and confirms that they have never blamed the union for their decision to close their manufacturing operations. Prime Minister, who is telling the truth: the Treasurer or Toyota?

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable Prime Minister, although I find it curious that it was not asked of the Treasurer.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question is out of order. The Prime Minister could not possibly know the answer to that question. The question should be directed to the Treasurer, and even then it might not be in order. There is a pattern here of questions that are not really in order. It is probably time that the opposition learnt how to draft a question. I ask that you rule that question out of order. It is not directed to the correct minister.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is asserting that the Prime Minister is not responsible for the conduct of his ministers. That would be a complete change from all precedence in the way this House has conducted question time.

Mr Abbott: The Treasurer can answer the question.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the Treasurer—the Prime Minister is totally in order to direct that that question be answered in that way—I believe that the Leader of the House had a valid point to make about the nature of the question. But we will allow it to stand and have the Treasurer answer it.

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:34): The report, as it related to the content of the discussion between myself and Toyota, was correct. Toyota's statement today is also correct. Toyota did not blame the unions because, at that time, Toyota still wanted to say in Australia.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will desist or remove himself from the chamber.

Mr HOCKEY: They wanted to stay in Australia. You talk about the front page of the Australian Financial Review. Here is the front page you should be looking at. It says, 'Toyota demands IR reform.' Remember when Max Yasuda went onto the Australian Financial Review in 2012? Courageously, Max Yasuda, a Japanese chief executive, went on the front page of a national newspaper in Australia and said, 'We need IR reform to maintain our business.' I table that document. If IR was not an issue in relation to Toyota—

Mr Burke: I rise on a point of order with respect to direct relevance. I appreciate that the Treasurer may not have been attentive to the question because it was directed to the Prime Minister, but it—

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat. There was a perfectly valid point about whether the question was in order at all. The Prime Minister elected to ask the Treasurer to answer it. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr HOCKEY: In their November submission to the Productivity Commission review of the automotive industry, Toyota identified four key requests in relation to their business in Australia. No. 4 is industrial relations. I table that.

On 10 December, seven days after I met Toyota, I spoke in this place, before Holden had even announced they were leaving Australia. I will quote myself from Hansard, because I was pretty good on that day!

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta will remove herself from the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Parramatta then left the chamber.

Mr HOCKEY: I said:

They have gone to their employees—

that is, Toyota—

and said, 'We need to have this deal go through to help to manage—just to manage—the cost of employment in Australia so that we can go back to Tokyo and say to them in good faith that the workers of Australia really do want a manufacturing business.' So the best thing the Labor Party can do is put aside the politics and ring up its mates at the AMWU and tell them to accept the deal being offered by Toyota, which will give them job security.

So yes, on 10 December in this place I raised industrial relations, which followed that meeting with Max Yasuda on 3 December.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. An answer about 10 December cannot be relevant to what happened at a meeting on 3 December.

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The Leader of the House.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, the Manager of Opposition Business is playing fast and loose with the standing orders. He has already had his point of order on relevance and, therefore, that point of order was entirely out of order and does not even require a response from you.

The SPEAKER: Quite correct. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr HOCKEY: My comment in this place on 10 December confirms what was said to me on 3 December.

Mr Bowen interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: Listen! And on 11 December I said it again in this place. I went through the agreement between the AMWU, the workers and Toyota management and pointed out that Toyota was gravely concerned that, if they had to close over the Christmas period, it would put pressure on their ability to supply the market in the Middle East. Now, what happened on 12 December? Have a look at Toyota's release on 12 December after they lost the court case to the AMWU, which says:

The proposed changes—

from Toyota—

were designed to remove outdated and uncompetitive terms and conditions that make it difficult to compete with other Toyota plants throughout the world.

Get your facts right, Labor, and maybe you will understand that they tried to stay in Australia and it is partly the responsibility of your mates.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Isaacs then left the chamber.