Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Matters of Public Importance

Automotive Industry

5:15 pm

Photo of John MadiganJohn Madigan (Victoria, Democratic Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Acting President Sterle, and thank you, Senator Moore, for giving me the opportunity to speak on this extremely important topic. What we are talking about today is people's jobs. We are talking about what is at stake for the nation, for the community, for the family and for the individual. We know from the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that 50,370 people are directly employed in the automotive industry. I think the 50,370 employees is a good figure to start with, as it is more than a significant number of Australians to be concerned about and is extremely conservative should we lose our automotive manufacturing sector.

When this MPI came across this morning, I thought I would add up some figures to see what the effects would be of 50,000 people losing their jobs. Say 50,000 people were on a wage of $55,000 per year. Each person would be paying in excess of $9,000 tax. This figure equates to $471.1 million each year. This money helps pay for people who are doing it tough, those who are retraining for new work, or suffering from mental illness, or people who need to receive rent assistance because they have defaulted on their mortgage. These 50,000 people may be joining them if the government does not ensure we keep the automotive industry here in Australia.

I kept crunching the figures and decided to find out how much it would cost the taxpayer to have 50,000 people on Newstart allowance. Based on each employee being single and having no dependants, the full figure is $501 per fortnight, or $651.3 million for 50,000 newly unemployed hardworking well-skilled but surplus workers over 12 months. Based on the loss of tax and the expense of Newstart allowance, the figure totals over $l billion dollars in one year.

But this does not take everything into consideration. It fails to take into account the added costs to our support services, to our health professionals, for example. It does not take into account the stress and interruption passed onto children and families. It does not take into consideration the increased costs of procurement projects for other sectors including defence, as the local supply chains will be ravaged. Mr Acting Deputy President, the automotive manufacturing industry is a great asset for our country. Government currently provides around $18 per person with a return of around $934 per person. That is a massive return which should not be taken for granted.

I would just like to conclude by noting that in this chamber, when talking about jobs, when rationalising other people's employment and livelihood, we need to think about where people can find more work. Who is employing? Where are these jobs? It seems we only hear about blue-collar jobs being lost rather than not created. I implore the government to consider that offering assistance to the car manufacturing industry is keeping Australians in work and contributing to our economy fifty-onefold.


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