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Toyota closure warning highlights US FTA risk.



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Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386 or Brendan Shaw 0413 013 501

FOR MEDIA

CRAIG EMERSON

Member for Rankin

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY AND TRADE

20 June 2003

TOYOTA CLOSURE WARNING HIGHLIGHTS US FTA RISK

Toyota’s warning that it might consider closing its Australian car plant if the US-Australia free trade agreement proceeds is the latest example of the risks of the deal that are being downplayed by the Government.

The Government is fond of citing a shonky $4 billion potential benefit of the proposed deal but remains silent on the potential costs.

If Toyo ta’s Altona car plant closed 3,000 direct jobs would be lost along with at least the same number employed in Australia’s car component industry.

The component manufacturers depend on four carmakers operating in Australia. If one of the four fell over the whole industry could collapse like a house of cards.

If this is such a good deal for Australia, why does the Government insist on conducting the negotiations in secret, behind closed doors?

The Government has said that:

“It is not possible to provide detailed commentary on the strategy for the negotiations as the content of the negotiations will be confidential between the Australian and US governments” (DFAT submission to Senate inquiry into US-Australia FTA, 11 April 2003, p.3).

The Government is fond of telling Australians about possible benefits of this trade deal, but is silent on the potential costs.

These include higher prescription medicine costs for Australian families, damage to Australia’s film and television industry, a weakening of Australia’s quarantine inspection service, the abolition of the Foreign Investment Review Board, the dismantling of the ‘four pillars’ policy on Australian banks, the full sale of Telstra, and empowering American companies to sue federal, state and local governments in Australia for affecting their profits.