Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Automotive Industry

3:24 pm

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | Hansard source

On the same matter, Senator Smith has been very entertaining, but, as the debate and discussion in question time today highlighted, climate change as an issue will not shield the Abbott government for long. They continue to parade question after question to try to place attention elsewhere, but there are serious issues of the day that need to be addressed. One of them this week most certainly—due to the behaviour, it seems, of their own senior ministers—is the automotive industry. It is a very important issue for Australian manufacturing and, indeed, the workers in that sector as well.

What is clear from today's discussion also is that the government are not serious about jobs in the automotive industry and have no plan. They have no plan other than a Productivity Commission report and a cut of $500 million in industry assistance. Why do they have no plan? Apart from the general laziness of their opposition years and, as we saw over the weekend, inquiry after inquiry now, they have no serious commitment to manufacturing in Australia.

Let's look at some of the context around the importance of the automotive industry. The Australian automotive industry is central to our capacity as a manufacturing nation—50,000 direct jobs, over half of them in Victoria, depend on it and another 200,000 jobs depend on it indirectly. But it is not only the issue of those direct and indirect jobs. Governments around the world support their automotive industries because of the jobs they provide and the broader manufacturing capabilities they nurture. Thirteen countries only in the world have the capacity to design and manufacture motor vehicles, and Australia's is also the most open and competitive market in the world. But, if we want to preserve an important industry that helps us protect a broader manufacturing base, our industry needs to be able to compete, with international investment. Long-term certainty is needed to attract that investment. Long-term certainty requires mature governance.

This is where Senator Wong should have perhaps added Senator Cormann's question time responses to this take note debate, because he first said—and then Senator Smith repeated it—this line about being 'calm and considered'. The question of today in the Fin Review was, 'Where, pray, did "calm and considered" go?'


No comments