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Howard fails car industry.

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Senator Kim Carr Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research

Wednesday, 18 July 2007 (35/07)

Howard fails car industry

The announced closure of Ford’s engine plant at Geelong is clear evidence of the failure of the Howard Government’s industry policies in the face of growing challenges such as climate change.

It is ludicrous for Minister Macfarlane to say that today’s announcement that Ford will now import engines is a “vote of confidence”. It only demonstrates how dangerously out of touch the Howard Government has become.

The Howard Government has been sitting on its hands, failing to respond to the rapidly changing demands of the Australian car industry.

Labor is concerned of speculation that there may be more job losses at Ford to come. Other car makers are also under acute pressure.

Labor welcomes the announcement of an Innovation and Investment fund, but believes with the right policy settings the current difficulties facing the automotive industry could have been avoided.

The Howard Government has failed to recognise the challenges of climate change that have dramatically changed consumer preferences in passenger vehicles.

The Howard Government’s ‘set and forget’ car industry policies reflect old fashion attitudes from a stale Government.

The assumptions that led to the current policy settings established in 2002 have fundamentally changed.

Unlike the Howard Government, Labor has recognised the risks and opportunities that climate change poses for the Australian car industry and responded with a Green Car Partnership to help the industry adapt.

Labor has committed to a comprehensive review of the factors affecting the car industry with the view to restructuring and augmenting programs to help the car industry meet the challenges of the future.

The Howard Government has ruled out changing its industry programs.

Labor will do what the Howard Government should have done well before today’s painful announcement.

Today it should have been announcing that it was working with the car companies to develop Green Car Projects leading to:

• The manufacture of four cylinder engines and small cars.

• The production of new V6 and new diesel engines and fuel efficient transmissions.

It should have travelled to Detroit to discuss with the decision makers at Ford its global plan and Australia’s place within it.

Labor believes that it’s time for new investment, for new technologies, for new markets.

Labor has already committed to boosting Australian car manufacturing with a $2 Billion Green Car Partnership.

Under the partnership, Labor will invest $500 million in a “Green Car Innovation Fund” designed to generate $2 billion in investment.

Unlike the Government, Labor recognises the importance of the Australian car industry to our economy and will fight not just preserve it, but grow it.

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922, Patrick Pantano 0417 142 238.