ABBOTT MUST ACT ON AUTO

Australian auto supply chain firms are calling for action from the Abbott Government, some 15 months after Holden announced it would no longer make cars in Australia.

After playing chicken with Holden and gambling with Australian jobs, the Abbott Government announced its so-called Growth Fund in
December 2013 in a desperate attempt to deal with the fallout wrought by their reckless anti-auto campaign.

It has now been well over a year since this fund was first announced and not one firm or project has received Commonwealth funding.

Senate Estimates revealed that there are 25 firms waiting for much-needed diversification funds promised under the Growth Fund and that successful applicants were meant to be announced in December 2014.

But three months later – still nothing.

Departmental officials also revealed that a second element of the Growth Fund, the Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Program, has been overwhelmed with 265 submissions seeking a total of
$554 million in grants, well in excess of funds allocated.

It's clear that industry is looking for certainty and opportunities to diversify. Instead, all they get are empty promises and bogus timelines.

Further, there is still a $900 million cut hanging over carmakers and the supply chain, with the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS) Amendment Bill still before the Senate.

If passed, this legislation would result in a $500 million cut in co‑investment funds between now and 2017, which could see an early closure of the carmakers and create chaos in the supply chain.

With 200,000 jobs on the line the Abbott Government must urgently reverse its decision and remove this legislation from its agenda.

In the face of the Government's inaction and neglect, Labor and crossbench Senators have established a Senate Committee inquiry on the future of the auto industry.

The Committee is holding emergency hearings in Melbourne and Adelaide next week to develop positive policy options on the action required to maintain Australian manufacturing jobs.

Labor will fight to keep high-skill high-wage jobs in Australia and stop the Abbott Government sending them offshore.


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