Reports in today’s Australian Financial Reviewof a half-baked deal between the Greens and the Liberal Government over hundreds of millions in funding for the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS) have sent a shudder through the car industry.
Labor welcomes discussions on new investment for the Australian automotive industry. Such initiatives, like Ethan Automotive, need proper evaluation if public money is involved.
Adam Bandt’s vague plan for a new electric car scheme using Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS) funds seems to misunderstand the operations of the current ATS and the Australian automotive industry.
Worse still, it lets the Liberal Government off the hook from its responsibility to grow Australian jobs and support automotive workers.
Currently, funding goes to automotive component manufacturers, who are engaged in important engineering R&D and supply the domestic and global market.
The ATS is open to new entrants and the Minister has discretion to enable any transitional arrangements that might be required should new entrants need time to build capacity.
The Senate is currently holding an inquiry into the future of Australia’s automotive industry. Labor welcomes public debate and believes any new investment proposals need to be properly considered and evaluated.
If the Greens help the Government strip funding from the ATS, they will undermine the very technological capabilities they claim to be supporting.
Worse, cuts to the ATS at this time risk shutting down automotive component makers, leading to the early departure of car makers and the imminent loss of up to 200,000 jobs.
Automotive components makers need time to diversify and employees need time to retrain and gain new skills. An early collapse of the auto sector triggered by the withdrawal of ATS funding will have a devastating impact on jobs and the economies of South Australia and Victoria.
Electric vehicles may well be part of Australia’s future automotive industry – but in light of the Abbott Government’s failure to stand up for the sector, automotive workers need more than ill-thought out schemes.
Cutting funding to the supply chain and forcing the early closure of automotive manufacturing companies is not in the interest of workers and their families.
It is not in the interest of Australian jobs or manufacturing.