Government’s offer to extend support for industry and workers in Geelong and Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
In a short-sighted and penny-pinching move, the Abbott Government recently turned down an offer from the Victorian Government to extend and boost funding for the joint Innovation Investment Funds set up to assist communities affected by automotive closures.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane yesterday opened the last round for grants for the Geelong and Melbourne’s North Innovation Investment Funds.
These programs were first opened in July 2013 in response to the announcement from Ford that it will cease its vehicle and engine manufacturing in Australia in October 2016.
The funds are designed to support investments that lead directly to sustainable new jobs in Geelong and Melbourne’s North.
At a public hearing of the Senate Committee Inquiry on the future of Australia’s automotive industry, Committee members heard that the Victorian Government offered to invest an additional $18 million to extend the programs and support these regions.
But Minister MacFarlane has flatly rejected the offer, as a Victorian Government Official informed the committee:
Mr Meek: At this stage they [the Federal Government] have responded, saying that they would not support the extension of that program.
Senator Kim Carr: When you say ‘at this stage’, you did get a letter of rejection. That would be a fair description?
Mr Meek: Yes, that is.
Senator Kim Carr: And are you expecting ‘at this stage’ to mean that at some other stage there will be a different position?
Mr Meek: No, I think at this stage we have a letter stating they would not proceed.
If the Victorian Government is willing to invest and support Geelong and Melbourne’s north then the Federal Government should also come to the table.
Labor will fight to keep high-skill high-wage jobs in Australia and continue to hold the Government to account for its callous approach to manufacturing and auto workers.