WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2013
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government abandon’s Australia’s automotive industry.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION BILL SHORTEN: Good evening everyone. Very sad news for Australia, and for tens of thousands of Holden workers, and auto component workers, throughout Victoria and South Australia in particularly. The Holden car company’s announced they’re going to cease making Australian cars after decades. This is a terrible announcement for thousands of skilled car workers and component workers. I believe that the Holden car company, the patient could well be saved for want of some Government investment. Some people say in Australia that we shouldn't make cars here anymore. I and Labor don't believe that. What sort of country are we if we can't even make our own motor cars? This devastating news. I have no doubt that the new Coalition Government withdrew the welcome mat for the Holden car company. What we now have in Australia is a situation where, unlike other countries in the world, we've got an Abbott Government who doesn't care about making things in this country anymore. The Holden car company can be saved and we believe the Government should have made the right decisions to do so and our first thoughts go to these families. There will be children asking their parents tonight, "What does this mean mum, what does this mean dad?" Let's make it very clear Holden car workers and the tens of thousands of car component workers who work so hard, they're very skilled workers, they don't deserve this complete lack of leadership. The Abbott Government's presided over the biggest car crash in Australia's history. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Why is this any different to when Mitsubishi folded up under Labor's watch?
SHORTEN: Let's be really clear. We're down to Toyota, Ford and Holden. I don't know if Australia can afford to be country which makes six or seven different car companies but the idea that we can't even make cars in Australia anymore is the white flag of manufacturing. Once you get rid of the manufacturing car sector out of Australia's manufacturing then you are on a downhill slide in terms of other parts and manufacturing. We have thousands of skilled produce workers who are productive, who produce good product. Australia's a big nation, we're part of the G20. How many other G20 nations aren't making cars? This is a lack of leadership, a white flag. We've put the Holden car in the too-hard basket. The Abbott Government has driven the Australian car industry into biggest car crash in national history.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned Ford, was it a lack of leadership when Ford announced they'd close under your Government as well?
SHORTEN: Let’s be clear, this is an announcement about Holden; Holden and Toyota. I believe Australia can sustain two car companies. I also know that with Ford, half the jobs in Australia were being kept in terms of research and design. It's very clear and the truth will come out coming days, weeks and months. We see a situation where the Holden car company was made clearly to feel not welcome. There are thousands of people - there are 1300 direct employees in South Australia, 1600 in Australia. There are literally thousands more in auto components. Everything from windscreens to brakes to exhaust pipes to all the things which go into a motor car plus the injection molding. This is thousands of people. The job of the Australian Government is not to get rid of Australian jobs. This is the biggest car crash in Australia's history and the Abbott Government needs to radically and quickly reconsider its position. If other nations around the world are capable of working with big car companies, why is the Abbott Government so incapable of working with car companies in Australia? This is a complete white flag on manufacturing and Labor will resist and support manufacturing in this country and we think that this decision by Holden reflects a complete lack of leadership by the Abbott Government.
JOURNALIST: The Treasurer says that the carbon tax is one of the reasons behind this closure. Why do you continue to stand in the way of its repeal in the Senate?
SHORTEN: Let's get real. Holden today in any of their press releases, did they say it was carbon? No. So, just because the Treasurer - it's the classic defense in any legal matter that you always point the finger, "Someone else did it rather than the person who's in the dock accused." Let's be very clear here. Holden were prepared to hang on and make cars here. You know, what's crazy is that the Abbott Government know the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is thousands and thousands of jobs. What's it going to cost the Australian taxpayer in dole payments? What's it going to cost in terms of family breakdown? What's it going to cost in terms of thousands of small businesses who can't pay their creditors? This is a Government who would boast about saving some small amount of money, relatively, and yet see thousands of people put on the scrap heap. The Abbott Government has never seen a job they would fight for. The Abbott Government's never seen a manufacturing job that they'll ever support and the Abbott Government's now given up on making cars in Australia. This is shocking news just before Christmas.
JOURNALIST: The Coalition's only been in power for three months, Labor was in power for six years. Are the any regrets from the former Government, is there anything more the previous Government could have done?
SHORTEN: No. The only regret we have is Coalition Government has slashed half a billion dollars out of the automotive assistance package. Remember before the election the Coalition said they'd create a million jobs in the next five years? Well, so far it doesn't matter if it's the Gove refinery, Electrolux, Sim Plot, Holden, Qantas, this Government has waved good-bye to more jobs than anything Labor could ever have tried to scare people about before the election. Thanks, everyone. Cheers.
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