Bill's Speeches

Parliamentary Censure Motion

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (15:08): I seek leave to move a motion of censure against the Prime Minister.

Leave not granted.

Mr SHORTEN: I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith:

That the House censures the Prime Minister for:

(1) failing to stand up and fight for Australian jobs at:


(b) Electrolux;

(c) Simplot;

(d) Holden;

(e) Qantas;

(f) Ford;

(g) the Gove alumina refinery;

(h) SPC Ardmona; and

(i) countless other small businesses around Australia;

(2) failing to lead a Government united in supporting and protecting Australian manufacturing jobs;

(3) failing to support the workers, small businesses and communities affected by job losses;

(4) misleading the Australian people by blaming employees and their conditions for job losses; and

(5) having no plan for Australian jobs.

Today we have heard from the Minister for Industry, who I accept would appear to be periodically be on the side of the angels when it comes to standing up for Australian workers. He said that this is not a catastrophe. He said it is a challenge. Indeed, at the end of last year after parliament, the Prime Minister put his verbal arms around and used his rhetorical skills of comfort and empathy to the Holden workers, when he said, 'Good luck, Holden workers, you have been liberated.' Why didn't we think of that? I am sure they would like to liberate you from your job too. But the real issue here is that we see a government—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will relate it to the suspension motion.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you for your guidance. I look forward to it this year. This is terrible news—

The SPEAKER: You can be relying upon it. It will come.

Mr SHORTEN: This is terrible news for families of Australians. This is terrible news. First of all, long before we get to the economic cost of this, let us talk about people. Let us not talk about politics. Can anyone opposite put themselves in the shoes of 2½ thousand people called into canteens yesterday at 4.30 and five o'clock to be told, 'No matter what you have done and how well you have done it, there is no more job for you.'? Can anyone opposite have sufficient empathy to imagine the conversations which happened around the dinner table that night as the kids ask the parents: 'I have just seen Mum or Dad's work on TV. What does this all mean?'? Has anyone got the empathy to understand that not only are there the direct jobs at Toyota but there are tens of thousands of people in small businesses making auto components all around Australia? Has anyone got the empathy to understand the 55-year-old process worker on an assembly line, who has been a productive worker, who can work in a team, who is told that. 'Yes, there will be another job for you.'?

The government in the past has said they can go uranium mining. The government in the past has said, 'You have got three years of a job and we will sort things out in between now and then.' Yet in question time we asked them for a plan, because after all the government says everyone knows the car industry has been going for ever. Well if the car industry has been going forever, where is your plan? There is no plan.

When we look at the blow beyond the sad news that goes to the individuals who are caught up in this turmoil beyond their control, we look at it and we see that again the government says, 'Oh, well, we've seen a reduction by a quarter in the size of the automotive industry.' Well let me tell you opposite: in your five months you have taken the other three-quarters of the car industry and you have wrecked it. When we talk about who is actually affected, it is not just people working on an assembly line at Fishermans Bend or in Altona. There are 7,000 people in Queensland who make auto components. There are 7,000 in Sydney who make auto components. Let me put this on record: this North Sydney based government does not understand manufacturing in the southern states of Australia. They have never seen a Victorian or South Australian job they would ever fight for other than their own marginal seat MPs.

Let us look at this marvellous deal which the government has done for the Australian taxpayer, saying, 'Well, we are not going to give any more subsidy here because we are too smart.' We understand that this is not good business. How much in tax revenue will disappear when these people do not have a job and Toyota leaves? What will be the cost of the retraining bill to retrain tens of thousands of people? How much extra in Centrelink payments will there be because those people opposite have never seen an Australian job worth fighting for? What is going to be the implications for people who do not have a job and have the misery of unemployment and who cannot accumulate superannuation? Will it be a further challenge in terms of the age pension? What about the thousands of small businesses who supply products in the automotive sector? They have been abandoned by those opposite. In 66 years in Australia, under Fraser, under Howard, under Menzies—at least we had a car industry, but not under Prime Minister Abbott. Toyota, for every dollar of government assistance they get, they invest $20. But these people opposite are so clever. They are so clever. They are so adult-like in the way they run the government. They have said to Toyota, 'Rather than give you our one dollar rather than give you a dollar from us we will get rid of the $20 you give us.' That is not mathematics. These people are creating a jobs deficit in this country that will take years and years to get out of.

Then we heard the argument that nothing was going to happen. These people got into office—and they wanted the white cars, the desks and to give lectures to half of Australia as they divide them—but they did not want to work hard to save jobs in Australia.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will come back to the substance of the motion. This is a suspension motion.

Mr SHORTEN: They say it is the dollar, 'We can't do anything about the dollar.' When it came to Cadbury they could do something about the dollar.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I hesitate to take a point of order on the Leader of the Opposition's speech, but the Leader of the Opposition has to make some effort to explain why standing orders should be suspended in order to allow this debate. Therefore, he has to indicate why his motion should have a higher priority than the rest of the government's agenda before the House. He does not just have to pay lip-service to your request for him to do so. Perhaps he would like to take some tutelage from other members on that side of the House who have done this before.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the House. He is quite correct. I have asked the Leader of the Opposition to refer his remarks to the substance of the motion. If he had done so, we would not have needed to have that point of order.

Mr SHORTEN: Standing orders should be suspended because we saw tens of thousands of jobs on the chopping block yesterday and that is an important issue. We know that it has happened on this government's watch. That is why the standing orders should be suspended. We had Holden, which the Treasurer goaded to go. The car components industry needs two large car manufacturers to be able to justify their volume and scale. They are in trouble. They have told that to Toyota. Toyota said yesterday, 'It's getting the scale that is the challenge, including the components suppliers.' This government have never seen an Australian job they want to fight for. Now they shrug their shoulders and say: 'It's just the cycle in things. Some jobs go and some jobs come.' That is not right. This tide of jobs is going overseas.

Before the election you could not get the now government, then opposition, spokespeople away. Between manufacturing workers and cameras were opposition spokespersons saying: 'We're on your side.' I bet a Tatts ticket that the Prime Minister will not be visiting Toyota workers any time in the next three years. There is no fear of being mugged by a Liberal spokesperson at a car company. That will be a government-free zone.

The real problem is that before the election this government said, 'We are for manufacturing.' They said in 2011—and the record speaks for itself—'Without a car industry, you can't be a First World economy.' They said, 'Without a car industry, a steel industry, a cement industry and an aluminium industry you can't be a sophisticated economy.' What great news it is now for Australia. These people are dumbing down the Australian economy. They have no plan for the future of jobs. What is worse, what is most culpable, about the crew opposite is that they will not fight.

This government have a choice. Do they want to race to the bottom or do they want to race to the top? Do they want this country to be a smarter country or a poorer country? They have surrendered the war to keep manufacturing in Australia and the list of battle defeats includes Electrolux, Simplot and the Gove refinery. Two thousand people are going to have to move out of Gove—and that will create a ghost town up there—because this government does not know how to stand up for people. The real shame of this government is that they think they can run Australia by dividing Australia. Let me give one warning to the government. You think you can divide Australia, can give up on manufacturing, can blame employees and can keep hunting down all those who disagree with you and blame them, but the Australian people will mark you down for the death of the car industry because we hold you responsible. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Brendan O'Connor: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.