Abbott Government fails blue collar workers – again

The Abbott Government’s disconnect from blue collar workers is again evident amid fears Holden could close early because of funding cuts.

In response to comments this week from Holden’s Managing Director, Gerry Dorizas, that component suppliers were in “dire straits”, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said these firms could apply for a slice of the $20 million Automotive Diversification Programme.

The Automotive Diversification Programme is part of the Abbott Government’s so-called Growth Fund to support the automotive industry transition.

However, the Commonwealth’s overall contribution of $100 million to this fund is clearly inadequate given the 200,000 jobs that will be lost as a result of the closure of automotive manufacturing and the $29 billion negative annual shock to Australia’s GDP.

Not only is it underfunded, but what limited policy measures this Government has put in place are woefully under-cooked, leaving thousands of workers uncertain about their futures.

When the Industry Minister talks about the Automotive Diversification Programme, he neglects to point out that this pathetic program has less than half the funding of Labor’s $42 million Automotive New Markets Program and is only open to supply chain firms to support spending on capital equipment.

Labor’s program was open to component suppliers to spend on any number of activities, including labour costs, education and training programs, payments to research organisations such as universities and CRCs, secondhand machinery, tooling, prototypes and IP protection.

Conversely, Minister Macfarlane’s program has such restricted eligibility criteria you’d be forgiven for thinking the Abbott Government does not actually want firms to apply.

It’s clear this was just a further example of the Abbott Government’s subterfuge when it comes to the automotive industry and support for local manufacturing.

The Government’s proposed $900 million in cuts to the Automotive Transformation Scheme includes $500 million announced in MYEFO and a further $400 million announced in the May Budget.

These cuts will spell devastation for automotive component suppliers.

Labor will do all it can to block these cruel cuts in the Senate.


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