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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10266

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. How many more cars will be sold this financial year as a result of the government’s car assistance package?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —The government is proud of the package that it has announced today. It represents decisive action for the future of the car industry in Australia. Three hundred and thirty-five thousand vehicles are manufactured in this country each year by the Australian auto industry. When you put together the three manufacturing majors, they represent some 60,000-plus employees directly. Putting them together with the rest of the people who are employed in associated industries, it represents some 200,000 people. Overall, the significance of this industry is as follows: about $8 billion worth of gross domestic product, which follows some $5.6 billion in exports.

Mr Hockey interjecting

Mr RUDD —The global car industry right now, as the honourable member would well know, from Detroit to other car manufacturing centres around the world, is under great stress and pressure. So the alternatives are for any governments around the country to simply turn their backs on that or, as governments past, both Liberal and Labor, have done in this country, to put their shoulders to the wheel in fashioning a new car plan for the future. However, we have done so with a new element, and that is to ensure that we will enable the industry to transform itself over time. What I am concerned about is ensuring that we provide sufficient confidence and underpinnings for the industry going forward at a time when the global financial crisis is bearing down on so many.

I realise that this is something which may not attract automatic bipartisan support on the part of those opposite. In fact, I am informed that the member for Curtin has already been on the telephone this morning to various people in the car industry seeking to get up and running some negative comment against the package that we have just launched. The old bush telegraph works fairly quickly—it came back to us fairly quick smart.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order!

Mr RUDD —I notice that the member for Curtin is not disputing what I just said. I say to those opposite: at a time of global financial crisis, at a time of global economic crisis and at a time when we have real challenges in the global economy, it would be good if we had bipartisan support not just in name but in reality for the key challenges we face—not just pretending to be bipartisan but putting our shoulder to the wheel.

This government has taken decisive action on guaranteeing bank deposits. We have taken decisive action on a $10.4 billion economic stimulus package. We have taken decisive action again today with a $6.2 billion industry innovation plan for the future of the Australian auto industry—an industry in which we believe.