After 70 years of motor vehicle production in Australia, General Motors Holden will today close its Elizabeth manufacturing plant, ending car making in this country.

Labor’s thoughts are with the company’s 1000 employees, many of whom have worked at Holden their whole lives.

The closure of the automotive manufacturing plants and the loss of their workforces is a tragedy.

It is a tragedy for automotive supply chain firms, which face an uncertain future.

It is a tragedy for the Australians employed by those supply chain firms, many of whom will endure prolonged job instability. 

It is a tragedy for Australian advanced manufacturing, which relied heavily on the technological innovations developed by the automotive industry.

All of this could have been avoided, had the Liberals provided bipartisan support for the automotive industry. 

When Labor was in Government, Holden had plans for two new models and Toyota’s export business was thriving. Both companies wanted to continue making cars in this country.

Instead the Liberals bullied the carmakers and took to the 2013 election a policy to cut assistance by $500 million.

The Liberals actions have had devastating consequences for the 1000 remaining workers at Holden, their families and their communities.

The ramifications for the state of South Australia will be immense – with a hit to the economy and thousands of jobs under threat.

The Liberals must do more to support auto manufacturing firms in transition and ensure retrenched workers are given greater support to secure employment.

The Liberals’ response has been completely inadequate, with their piecemeal programs both oversubscribed and underfunded. 

Labor believes advanced manufacturing has a bright future in Australia. We have the skilled people and we have the innovative businesses – we just need a government willing to back them.

This is why a Shorten Labor Government will create a $1 billion Australian Manufacturing Future Fund that will support innovative Australian manufacturing firms – including automotive – who want to grow their businesses and create jobs, but find it difficult to obtain private sources of finance.

All the Liberals do is send jobs offshore. Labor has a plan to bring them back.

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