Funds for auto transition way below what is needed

Today’s announcement by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and his Victorian and South Australian counterparts that the $60 million Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Programme is open for applications provides some welcome but very limited support for manufacturers in these states.

The announcement is yet another reminder that the Abbott Government’s response to the crisis it created in automotive manufacturing is nowhere near adequate.

The Government simply does not understand that the reach of this industry is Australia-wide.

According to Minister Macfarlane, the program announced today is supposed to be the centrepiece of a $155 million Growth Fund intended to help communities affected by the shutdown of car making.

Yet the program is restricted to Victoria and South Australia, where the car makers are located, even though their departure will have flow-on effects throughout the national economy.

The shutdown will mean the loss of 200,000 jobs and a $29 billion a year hit to the economy by 2017 – about 2 per cent of GDP.

More than 75,000 of the jobs that will go are outside Victoria and South Australia.

The stark reality is that the Abbott Government’s total contribution to the Growth Fund – $100 million – is well below what will be needed to support this transition. And its contribution to the Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Programme, which the Budget papers show will be less than $35 million over five years, is risible.

None of this will come anywhere near compensating for the $900 million cut from the Automotive Transformation Scheme, which could drive the industry offshore long before the end of 2017.

THURSDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2014


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