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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10268

Mr TURNBULL (2:20 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister. Given that around half of all cars sold in Australia each year are either leased or financed and given that the government’s ill-considered unlimited bank deposit guarantee has dramatically reduced the availability of auto finance, why does today’s package fail to address the critical and immediate credit issues facing Australia’s car dealers and their 90,000 employees?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —What I find remarkable about the question from the honourable gentleman opposite is his use of the term ‘ill-considered’ about a package to which he gave unqualified bipartisan support on the first day that it was announced. He can declare bipartisan support one day, but what you need to understand about the member for Wentworth is what he does on the second day. On the day you announce a policy the opposition say they support it and on the next day—whether it is this matter or other elements of policy in recent days—they slowly crab walk away.

Mr Turnbull —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. What is not remarkable is that the Prime Minister’s answer is not relevant to the question.

The SPEAKER —Order! I will listen carefully to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Mr RUDD —It is important to establish, on any particular day, where the Liberal Party happens to stand on any particular policy, because it changes by the day and by the hour. In fact, I noticed that, on ABC Learning Centres, it seems to change by the minute: six positions in four days!

Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It was a specific question about financing of motor vehicles. If the Prime Minister does not understand the question we can repeat it, but surely he can give the Australian people an answer.

The SPEAKER —Order! First of all, the Manager of Opposition Business does not assist his points of order by then going on with argument about subject matter rather than the point of order. It is obvious that I would have assisted myself if I had ruled out of order the part of the question that is now the matter of discussion. It is a matter of discussion not only through the response but by the numerous interjectors. The Prime Minister will respond to the question. I think his introductory remarks have come to a conclusion. He will now go to the question.

Mr RUDD —The member for Wentworth rightly points to the fact that finance companies in recent times are experiencing considerable difficulty. The Treasury currently has task forces dealing with a whole category of market linked investments—finance companies, mortgage trusts, property trusts as well as cash management trusts, including finance companies—to deal with the particular dislocations which are flowing to those companies as a consequence of the global financial crisis and the global economic downturn. For the benefit of the honourable gentleman, he should know that motor vehicle finance companies—car finance companies—are experiencing challenges in every Western economy at present. I would suggest to the honourable gentleman that, rather than seeking to make a cheap political point, he should understand that this is a global problem affecting the car industry and affecting finance companies associated with the car industry, not just here but in the United States and Germany as well. The government systematically is working its way through each of the challenges affecting each sector of this economy and we will continue to do so through the task forces we have established with the Treasury and our consultations with the major banks and with the Australian regulators, as we have been doing in recent weeks.