Monday, 24 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. In the last seven weeks, inter alia, Holden, Fairfax, Ford, Telstra and SPC have announced nearly 4,000 job closures with Simplot and SPC threatening another 2,000. In the light of this continued collapse, can the government as a matter of urgency: one, impose upon food imports the WTO provision for temporary emergency tariffs; two, mandate all motor vehicles purchased under a government contract will be Australian made; three, pressure down the Australian dollar?
I thank the member for Kennedy for his question. As I said a little bit earlier to the House, the dollar has been going down—that is a reflection, particularly, of market views of increased strength in the American economy. That is obviously good news for the people of America, but it is good news for the global economy. A strengthening American economy is good news for the world and it is good news for us. Those movements feed into our currency and feed into the value of our currency. I know the moderation in the value of the dollar will be very welcomed by many in manufacturing, many in tourism and many in other trade-exposed sectors of the economy.
He specifically asked me about food imports and he specifically asked me about motor vehicles. On food imports, I can advise him of the following. On Friday the Assistant Treasurer, Minister Bradbury, and the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, announced that the Productivity Commission would undertake separate safeguard inquiries into the impact of imports of processed fruits and tomatoes on Australian producers. The inquiries have been initiated at the request of SPC Ardmona and will consider the introduction of safeguards measures against imports of canned tomatoes and multi-serve canned fruit products. The Productivity Commission is Australia's competent authority to investigate whether safeguard measures are justified under WTO rules. It will conduct the inquiries in accordance with Australia's safeguards procedures. Australia will notify the WTO and relevant training partners of these investigations. The commission is to provide the accelerated report to the government as soon as practicable, and in any event within three months. So that process is underway. SPC is one of Australia's largest food processors, employing more than 800 full-time equivalent staff directly. Of course it makes a very substantial contribution to the regional economy in which it is located. I can see the member for Murray, Dr Stone, nodding her head in agreement with that. In addition, we of course have made significant reforms to the anti-dumping system.
On the question of motor vehicles, we are not in the business of mandating but we are certainly in the business of leading by example. That is why we have purchasing policies which mean for the federal government we would look locally when it is possible to do so. We have urged that on other governments, including local governments, around the nation. We will continue to support our car industry and refuse to endorse the cuts to car-making proposed by the other side of politics which would, of course, bring thousands and thousands of jobs to an end.