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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1535

Mr BEDDALL —My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Commerce. What is the Government's attitude to the recent announcement by General Motors-Holden's Ltd that it intends to close its Acacia Ridge assembly plant in Queensland? Can the Minister inform the House of the effects this decision will have on employment?

Mr JOHN BROWN —Of course the Government is deeply disturbed by the decision of GMH to close the Acacia Ridge plant of its assembly line. We are worried about the effects that will have on employment in Brisbane. I think it is fair to give credit to the honourable member for Fadden for the great interest he has shown in this matter and also his great distress about the unemployment which will thus be foisted upon members of his electorate.

Mr Peacock —Do you mean that the Prime Minister will associate with GMH at the Bathurst 1000 but not with GMH at the Acacia Ridge 1000?

Mr JOHN BROWN —Without the intervention of the honourable gentleman on the other side, I would like to answer the question. It is much more relevant to national issues. The Government, of course, is gratified in part that the decision to close Acacia Ridge is not an immediate one and that the closure will take place over a fairly long period. Over that period, the Government will strive to ensure that maximum alternative employment opportunities are available to people who are affected by that closure. The Government has had discussions with GMH about the closure and we understand that GMH is making every effort to see that people affected by the closure of the Acacia Ridge plant are given an opportunity to avail themselves of employment in Dandenong and Elizabeth, the areas where the Queensland assembly plant is about to be relocated. Of course, the Government is pleased about that.

It should be emphasised that GMH over recent years has suffered very large losses on its operations. The Government understands the need for some restructuring and rationalisation of GMH's operations within Australia. I note the company's view that the planned restructure of its operations will result in increased efficiency and competitiveness. One pleasing aspect is the company's stated commitment to remain as a major manufacturer within Australia. That commitment and the planned restructure would give cause for some optimism as to the future of secure employment for people who are now involved in the motor car industry. I am very confident that that optimism will not be misplaced and that the future of the motor car industry under the administration of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Button, who made certain announcements along those lines last Thursday, will come to fruition as history unfolds.