Today’s announcement demonstrates that the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s response to the closure of Holden and Toyota was always manifestly inadequate.
While new funding to assist automotive firms transition is welcome, today’s announcement shows just how late the Liberals are, coming to the table for automotive firms with the impending closures of Holden and Toyota less than 5 months away.
History will show that it was the Liberals who actively participated in the demise of an entire industry that employs approximately 50,000 people directly, and up to 200,000 people indirectly across Australia.
Australia’s manufacturing businesses are only having to transition beyond automotive contracts because the Abbott/Turnbull Liberals drove Australia’s last remaining motor vehicle producers out of the country.
The loss of jobs and skills in automotive manufacturing is being compounded under this Government’s watch, as all manufacturing firms struggle to remain competitive in the face of skyrocketing energy prices.
Today’s announcement includes $47.5 million in additional funding for firms in South Australia and Victoria through Tony Abbott’s so-called ‘Growth Fund’, which ran out of money last year.
This just goes to show how woefully underfunded the previous Growth Fund was.
To make matters worse, the guidelines for the main element of the Growth Fund – the Next Generation Manufacturing Grants Program – state that firms registered under the Automotive Transformation Scheme are not eligible for assistance, which will prevent the vast majority of Tier One automotive suppliers accessing much needed funding for diversification.
The closure of our car making industry is a national crisis. A small top-up of funds in South Australia and Victoria for a previously oversubscribed and underfunded program will not address the economic fallout that is unfolding on our doorstep with the closure of the car companies.
There are around 150 Tier One automotive suppliers and not all of them are in South Australia and Victoria. Many are based in New South Wales and Queensland.
It will cost the Commonwealth far more in social security payments than it would ever have cost to retain the industry and maintain legislated government co-investment through the Automotive Transformation Scheme.