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Government in disarray over Toyota grant.

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- MEDIA RELEASE - SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Media enquiries: Brad Stansfield 0419 884 666 1

A0851 16th June 2008

Government in disarray over Toyota grant

Labor will try and belatedly reverse-engineer the conditions around their $35 million gift to Toyota, it was revealed in Senate Question Time today.

In response to repeated questioning, Senator Chris Evans* said that despite the fact that the Government had already promised Toyota $35 million, the contract defining how the funds would be spent had yet to be designed.

No wonder Toyota’s CEO Mr Watanabe said “it was only recently that we heard about the amount so when we are not sure how we will use it.” - the Government doesn’t know either!

The fact of the matter is, caught out on the need for the grant, and under pressure after revelations that the engine for the hybrid Camry will be fully-imported - unlike the current Australian-made Camry engine - the Government is now trying to pretend that this $35

million grant will encourage research and development in the automotive industry.

All of which contradicts Senator Carr’s claim on the weekend about expenditure from the Green Car Fund that “it doesn’t have to be new research and development, it doesn’t have to be adopted off the drawing board, it doesn’t have to be newly patented technology.”1

Also in Senate Question Time today, Senator Evans:

• confirmed that the grant was a “decision of Government” and did not go to cabinet, nor was there any departmental advice on the provision of this grant;

• refused to advise when Toyota was advised of the grant; and,

• pointedly avoided answering whether any Minister, their office, or Department had communications with Toyota between the grant announcement and Toyota’s statement of 11th June.

The Rudd Labor Government’s approach to the automotive industry and Green Car Fund is in disarray.

This is what happens when a Government abandons due and proper process in favour of photo opportunities and short-term political fixes.


* representing Senator Carr, who is still in the United States 1 Weekend Australian, 14th June 2008