An unprecedented alliance of Senators has united to stop the Abbott Government’s reckless attack on automotive workers and component manufacturers.
Recognising the devastating impact a premature shutdown of the automotive manufacturing industry would have on workers and communities, particularly in Victoria and South Australia, Senators will vote to block the Abbott Government’s plans to strip $900 million from the Automotive Transformation Scheme.
Shadow Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr said submissions to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry into the Automotive Transformation Scheme Amendment Bill 2014 were unanimous in their opposition of these unfair and irresponsible cuts.
“All available evidence shows that decimating the Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS), as the Abbott Government wants to do, will spark an early exit of automotive manufacturers from Australia,” Senator Carr said.
“It is the height of economic irresponsibility to change a legislated scheme that has formed the basis of manufacturers’ business plans since 2011.
“It only increases Australia’s sovereign risk on the back of their decision to scrap the Renewable Energy Target, at a time when we are looking to attract new investment to spur job growth.
“It will scuttle any chance of a successful transition for automotive workers and businesses in the supply chain, exacerbating the likelihood of regional recessions and long-term unemployment.
“Economic modelling by the Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre indicates that about 200,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the shutdown of automotive manufacturing, cutting $29 billion from GDP.”
General Motors Holden could not have been clearer when it warned in its submission that:
If local suppliers financially fail prematurely, this will jeopardise Holden’s ability to manufacture to the end of 2017…A premature shutdown brought on by the early collapse of critical suppliers will have a catastrophic impact on individual people and the economy – and it will likely end up costing governments significantly more to manage the consequences of a disorderly industry shutdown.
“Senators Muir, Xenophon, Madigan and I will today table a dissenting report from the inquiry, calling for the ATS to be retained in its current form,” Senator Carr said.
“Labor will fight to stop this madness from the Abbott Government proceeding at the expense of automotive workers and companies.
“The Government’s only jobs plan for the auto manufacturing sector is to send them overseas.”
Senators Carr, Muir, Xenophon, Madigan and Rice will also co-sponsor a motion in the Senate today to establish a one-year inquiry into the future of Australia’s automotive industry.
The inquiry will develop a positive policy framework for the whole of the industry, including component manufacturing, aftermarket manufacturing, engineering, servicing, retail motor trades, other forms of sales support, skills and training.
Senator Carr said that Senators co-sponsoring the motion had consulted widely with industry on the need for an inquiry and that stakeholders were ready to contribute to the inquiry in a cohesive and productive manner, including through a series of workshops and an industry-led summit.
“Australia’s automotive industry is a powerhouse of innovation, research and development, and advanced manufacturing. We must do everything we can to retain these capabilities to the greatest extent possible,” Senator Carr said.
The inquiry will examine the difficulties component makers face in transitioning, new technologies influencing the industry, new business models, the effects of an early closure and the need for greater access to transitional training and career opportunities.
MONDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2014