House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Questions without Notice

Automotive Industry

2:45 pm

Photo of Matt WilliamsMatt Williams (Hindmarsh, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. On innovation, I would like to commend the Speaker on his support of the employee share ownership schemes earlier this year and in recently hosting some innovative technology entrepreneurs in Parliament House with both sides of parliament. Onto the question: can the minister explain to the House how the government's innovation policy will help facilitate more jobs and growth to help companies in the automotive aftermarket sector around Australia, including in my seat of Hindmarsh?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Hindmarsh for his question. I know that he, like most members of this House, is very interested in the advanced manufacturing sector, the potential in the automotive industry to grow manufacturing and the fact that the automotive sector is actually growing in terms of the aftermarket sector. Since the global financial crisis, in fact, it has increased quite dramatically; it now employs 21,000 people directly and exports $800 million of locally manufactured products. So the aftermarkets part of the automotive sector is growing and doing very well.

In his own electorate of Hindmarsh is a business called Milford Industries, which some people would know because it is associated with a cargo-barrier product which is in many four-wheel drives and other vehicles in Australia. Milford Industries is an industry leader in this particular area. It has grown and exports and employs Australians. There is great potential in the automotive sector, for the aftermarkets part of it, in terms of jobs and in terms of growth. In fact, the aftermarket sector represents 36 per cent of all automotive manufacturing in Australia—it is a very substantial part of it. It generates $5.2 billion per annum. So there is good news in the automotive sector and in advanced manufacturing for business like Milford Industries.

The innovation and science agenda that we will be announcing next week is designed to turbocharge that particular part of the advanced manufacturing automotive sector. It will give tremendous chances for innovation and for the use of research and collaboration with universities to grow jobs and to grow the economy in areas like high tech and advanced manufacturing. As every business person in the automotive sector knows, the capacity to increase jobs has improved and the capacity to increase profits has improved through the use of innovation to change their processes, to change their management styles, and to create new products and new services—and that is exactly what the aftermarket part of the automotive industry has done over the last few years. As it became apparent that businesses like Ford and Toyota and Holden were not going to continue to build cars in Australia, many of those kinds of businesses took advantage of things like the Automotive Diversification Program and the growth fund that services South Australian and Victoria to find new supply chains, to open new export markets overseas in order to create their profits. That has been working. There are lots of good-news stories in the automotive sector. For example, Ford, when they close down their car-manufacturing business will leave 1,100 workers behind in Victoria who will be working on design and technology. (Time expired)