Government fund shuns Ford workers

Labor has exposed the Abbott Government’s shameful deception and abandonment of workers in the automotive industry.

At a Senate Estimates hearing last night, Department of Industry officials confirmed that Ford workers would not be eligible for assistance from the $30 million Skills and Training Programme.

The officials also confirmed that in fact the Abbott Government was not providing any funding to the program it has been touting as its own. 

When Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane announced the Skills and Training Programme as a key element of the so-called Growth Fund package for the auto industry, they promised that it would:

“ assist automotive employees to have their skills recognised and provide training for new jobs, while they are still employed.”  (30 April 2014)

But evidence given at the Estimates hearing revealed the program will do nothing of the sort, because thousands of Ford and supply chain workers will get no transitional support at all.

Shadow Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr said the revelations were a disgrace, a betrayal of workers and nothing short of a government con job.

“It is truly extraordinary that the Government would seek to claim credit for a program they are not even funding,” Senator Carr said.

“The only ones contributing to this program are GM Holden and Toyota – a fact Tony Abbott and Ian Macfarlane conveniently left out of their announcement in April.

“The Abbott Government has willfully misled automotive workers by saying they are providing assistance when they are not.

“Last night’s evidence makes it clear that the Government has abandoned Ford workers and those employed in the supply chain.

“This is yet another cruel blow following the Abbott Budget’s savage cuts to automotive programs, including a $4.1 million cut to the Ford Australia – Assistance to Workers Program.

“This leaves only the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Programme, which is limited to workers who have been made redundant.

“Now we know there is no transition program to support the vast majority of auto workers.  

“So much for the long lead times and smooth transition the Government promised. In practice all they have delivered is another kick in the guts to auto workers and another broken promise.”


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