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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1966

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (20:41): I am absolutely amazed by the member for Murray's speech, indicating that she does not support the automotive industry. We know that when agriculture has droughts and floods and when there are important issues facing the agriculture industry, governments of all persuasions always provide assistance. We know that for a fact—it happened in the floods last year and it has happened in droughts—so it is absolutely absurd for the member for Murray to talk about providing assistance to the automotive industry, which provides jobs for blue-collar workers who live in the cities, who cannot afford to buy land and who cannot go out and start an agricultural business.

This industry provides jobs for thousands of people in my electorate, in the electorate of the member for Makin, in the electorate of the member for Chifley and in the electorate of the member for La Trobe. These jobs provide income for people to pay their mortgages, to send their children to school and to ensure that they have the ability to progress themselves in life. We know that farmers do produce a lot of our trade, and they have my support. But to turn around and say that the automotive industry does not require support—

Dr Stone: I didn't say that.

Mr GEORGANAS: The member for Murray used the example of the two industries and asked why was it that the agriculture industry did not get support—but they do get support. In bad times, like in droughts and floods, all governments, Liberal and Labor, provide funding to assist agricultural industries.

I speak in favour of the Australian automotive industry, including the iconic brands and the models that have been produced in South Australia by Holden over many years. I say this because I have first-hand experience. The first-hand experience I have is that my father migrated to this country in 1954. He came off a ship in Port Melbourne and on the second day of his arrival he went to Fishermans Bend and landed a job with General Motors-Holden's. He stayed there until 1979. He was able to earn a living and ensure that his family was looked after. He worked on a production line in very bad conditions in those days. Regardless of what the conditions were like, it provided a living for many thousands of people in this country.

The Australian automotive industry continues to employ thousands of Australians in our electorates all over the country. These jobs are required in all facets of car production, from design right through to the production line and exporting, benefiting the livelihoods of many tens of thousands of Australians across the country. I speak in favour of the proud role of this government, our Labor government, and that of previous Labor governments that recognised the importance of this industry—and it is an important industry. It employs thousands of people across the country in every single seat, even in rural seats. This industry has invested in making itself a success story over many, many years and has a strong prospect of continuing the wealth generation of this country for years to come.

I just gave you a brief example of my own connection to the automotive industry. It is said that there are some 46,000 Australians employed in car manufacturing around the nation today and another 200,000 Australians that are reliant on this industry continuing in Australia. Within South Australia, where General Motors Holden has its Elizabeth plant, there are some 2,700 people directly employed at this site, supporting over 5½ thousand other jobs—and I am being very conservative in those figures—in the manufacturing of the components used by Holden in the building of cars on that site.

This is not an insubstantial industry, this is not an insubstantial workforce, but it is a highly competitive industry which many countries find difficult to sustain. Australia is only one of 13 nations across the globe which has all the skills that are required in manufacturing a motor vehicle. It has all the roles, all the jobs here to produce 21st century automobiles. This is a skill set that we value on this side of the parliament. This is a strategic position that Labor sees as important for Australia to defend and to maintain, unlike those on the other side—and we heard the vitriol from the member opposite earlier. Towards this end Labor governments will continue to assist this industry, and I am very proud that this industry will be assisted by this Labor government. (Time expired)