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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1963

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (20:31): We just heard a rather interesting speech from the member for Riverina. It was more about ranting about the carbon tax. It was a strange combination between a broken record and a parrot banging on about the carbon tax. I do not know what you are going to do come 1 July. I do not know what you are going to talk about.

This motion has very ably been presented to the Federation Chamber by the member for Makin, who is a great champion of the car industry—if you will allow me the pun. He has been, for a very long time, a bit of an icon in his own right in the northern suburbs. As mayor of Salisbury—I was fortunate enough to live in Salisbury for a while—he was a great mayor and a great defender of jobs and the culture in the northern suburbs. He was a great defender of the northern suburbs against some in the media. So it is understandable that he is in here defending the issue of Australians having a choice of Australian cars. When you get to the bottom of this whole debate it is about whether or not Australian consumers are going to have an Australian choice when they go to the car yard to buy a car. Those opposite want to buy BMWs and Mercedes, let's be honest about it. They want Australians to be buying Hyundais and Great Walls. That is their future vision for Australian manufacturing. You only have to listen to the member for Mayo, and others, who talk about being played for fools by Detroit. What they really want to do is eliminate the Australian option. This is despite the great success story that is the Australian car industry.

In the middle of the global financial crisis we got a second model at Holden's Elizabeth plant, the Holden Cruze. And everywhere you look Australians are buying this fantastic small car. And you still see the Commodore and the Holden Commodore ute. People want to buy them. They want that choice.

The member for Makin talked about the sorts of extreme subsidies paid in other countries and the sorts of tariff arrangements in other countries. This is not a level playing field. It is a distorted market and we must compete in the real world, not in some fantasy world of a level playing field invented by pointy-headed economists and those opposite. It is a fiction.

We must compete and we must provide assistance—co-assistance and co-investment—to ensure that we get the next model Commodore and Cruze and from this plant, which is worth two per cent of South Australia's gross state product and which employs 2,500 directly and thousands more in my state. Most importantly, you cannot imagine the town of Elizabeth without car manufacturing. Elizabeth is the town where I was born and I do not live too far from there now; I live in the city of Salisbury. But it is impossible to imagine Elizabeth without car manufacturing, it is impossible to imagine the South Australian economy without car manufacturing, and it is impossible to imagine this nation not manufacturing cars—just impossible.

This is about patriotism. It is about an Australian consumer having the right to own and drive around in an Australian car built by Australian workers. Those opposite want us driving around in BMWs—well, I should correct myself: they want to drive around in BMWs. They want workers to be driving around in some garbage—some of the cheap imports coming in are poorly made rubbish in the main—and they want to outsource our car industry. That is what their plan is for this industry: they want to send it on a slow boat to China.

This government intends to make sure that we keep building cars in this country, and that is why we will oppose the coalition's $500 million cut, which is just the beginning because as of 2015, and they have made this quite clear, it is a billion dollar cut. It is a billion dollar cut to send Australian jobs on a slow boat to China. Make no mistake about it, that is their policy. That is their intention. That is their commitment and that is what they will do if they are elected to office. (Time expired)