Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation. Yesterday the minister outlined some of the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector due to tough global economic circumstances. What other challenges are there to Australian manufacturing jobs?
I thank the member for Wakefield for his question, because manufacturing is an absolutely fundamental part of the Australian economy. It employs about one million people in well-skilled and high-paid jobs. The manufacturing sector, as the Prime Minister indicated earlier, has been experiencing pressures from things such as the high value of the Australian dollar and intense international competition. That is why the government has put in place a series of policy measures to support the industry: things like the Steel Transformation Plan and targeted assistance for particular industries and firms—the $5.4 billion New Car Plan and our $1 billion Plan for Australian Jobs.
But there are greater risks to manufacturing in this country—from the job-cutting policies of the opposition. They plan to cut assistance, for example, to the motor vehicle manufacturing sector by $500 million over the next two years and place great uncertainty over a further $1½ billion in assistance after 2015. All of that is at risk under the stated policy of the coalition. That is a policy that would kill Australia's motor vehicle manufacturing industry stone dead.
Mrs Mirabella interjecting—
The member for Indi must know it. The industry would be telling the member for Indi that that policy will destroy tens of thousands of jobs.
Mrs Mirabella interjecting—
And that is not some piece of political rhetoric; that is the reality of the policy position—
General Motors Holden have made this position extremely clear in the comments that they have been making over the last week or so—that is, that, if the coalition's cuts to assistance to motor vehicle manufacturing were put into place, Holden would cease manufacturing in this country. That puts thousands of people's jobs at risk under the coalition's policy. It is clear and unequivocal. Over $1 billion of investment by General Motors in their Australian operations has been put at risk because of that coalition policy. That means job security is undermined and now pay cuts are on the agenda.
That is the coalition's policy in action: funding cuts, job cuts, pay cuts, slashing funding, smashing jobs and destroying job security. That is the coalition. That is what we have learned from coalition governments in the past. I had plenty of experience of it in my former work as a union official. The coalition always cuts funds, cuts jobs and slashes pay. That is what you are doing in the auto manufacturing sector in this country with your policy. You should rip it up, chuck it out and do the right thing. (Time expired)