Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the Holden managing director's statement that 'there is no question that a tax on electricity, in making it more expensive in input costs,' is making it more difficult to build cars and it goes on to say that is a black-and-white thing. Will the Prime Minister scrap the increase in the carbon tax on 1 July to provide at least some relief for manufacturing businesses anxious to keep their doors open and their workers in jobs?
I thank the member for her question and I can assure her that this government is very focused on manufacturing, very focused on car making and consequently very focused on the future of Holden because we understand how important car making is to the Australian economy and to the million Australians who work in manufacturing, and we understand how important Holden is to the economy of South Australia, which is why I was very disturbed when I read in the Adelaide Advertiser that Matt Hobbs, the head of government affairs at Holden, said that they would cease manufacturing if there was any reduction in taxpayer support. Of course, that is the policy of the member who asked the question and of the opposition. As to what they have said, indeed the member who asked the question has said this directly and I quote her own words. She said:
"We have to end this embarrassing cap-in-hand approach to government and secret deals behind closed doors," …
On a point of order, Madam Speaker: the Prime Minister is varying greatly from the question, which was about scrapping the carbon tax increase on 1 July, and, as much as she would like to, she has to address that question.
I was asked a question about support for jobs at Holden and I am answering that question about support for jobs at Holden. Yes, this government will support jobs in car making. Yes, we will continue the co-investments we have agreed to with Holden. Yes, we will do everything we can to resist the opposition's plan to rip half a billion dollars away from that industry support and to cost 2,000 hardworking Australians their jobs. That is the big risk in South Australia and that is the big risk at Holden. If the opposition were ever elected it would cost those South Australians their jobs. Of course, if you pull the plug on Holden in South Australia, as the opposition is intending to do, you not only pull the plug on those direct car making jobs; you pull the plug on thousands and thousands of other jobs in South Australia and in the supply chain. So let me be very clear to the member from Indi that we will never endorse her reckless plan to see those thousands of Australians thrown on the unemployment scrapheap.
Now, when it comes to carbon pricing and manufacturing, the member for Indi and the Leader of the Opposition have consistently engaged in a campaign of fear about this. The claims they have made are actually untrue. The dollar claims they have made about car making are absolutely untrue, and anybody who knows about car making recognises that the big pressures on car making in this country are the strength of the Australian dollar and what that does for competitiveness. So we will focus on the real issues and we will focus on Australian jobs because that is what Labor governments do.