Another black day for auto workers

This budget spells devastation for the 150 firms in the automotive components sector and for 200,000 automotive workers and their families. 

Proposed cuts to the Automotive Transformation Scheme in last night’s budget, in addition to the $500 million cuts announced as part of MYEFO, will relegate nearly a quarter of a million Australians, and their families, to the unemployment scrapheap.

In the Budget papers, the Government states it will save $618.5 million over eight years by terminating the Automotive Transformation Scheme from 1 January 2018. However, this is misleading as total cuts to this program would total over $900 million and includes cuts long before the scheduled closures of manufacturing operations for Ford, Holden and Toyota.

Legislation securing the funding provided security to the industry for investment through to the end of the decade. Automotive companies had a right to expect that Government’s commitment, made in the Parliament through legislation, would be honoured. This includes nearly 150 component manufacturers in the supply chain and raises the question of sovereign risk.

Instead, having goaded the Australian car manufacturers into shutting down their operations, the Government has now added insult to injury by cutting short or slashing programs designed to help create new jobs and assist companies in the automotive supply chain.

The Government’s paltry $100 million for the so-called Growth Fund, and an extra $50 million for the Manufacturing Transition Grants Program, in no way offset the hundreds of millions slashed from auto assistance.

On top of all this, the Government has slashed $1 billion in skills and training programs, including the National Workforce Development Fund, the Workplace English Language and Literary Program and the Alternative Pathways Program.

Adding insult to injury, the Government has slashed $4.1 million in funding set aside for workers affected by the decision of Ford Australia to end local manufacturing operations in October 2016.

Labor condemns the callous disregard of a government that is determined not only to destroy an industry, but to provide no viable alternative for workers who are losing their jobs.

This is a social catastrophe of the Government's own creation – a budget for wealthy people with complete disregard for ordinary Australians – and a continuation of the Abbott Government's pattern of deceit.

WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 2014


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