INTERVIEW WITH DAVID BEVAN ABC 891
THURSDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2013
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government abandon’s Australia’s automotive industry.
DAVID BEVAN: Good morning to Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader. You’re blaming Tony Abbott. How much blame does Federal Labor take for this?
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, BILL SHORTEN: If Labor was in power we don’t believe Holden would have made this decision.
BEVAN: But you are responsible for the set of circumstances that we’ve got to over the last five, six years, since they’ve only been there for a few weeks and you’ve created the environment.
SHORTEN: When does the Government stop using the excuse, “Well yeah, sure, we’re in the power. We get the white cars. We get the big pay. We get to say we’re the Government of Australia but actually anything bad that ever happens in this country, it’s someone else’s fault”. They need to grow up and take responsibility, they’re in charge. These Holden negotiations would appear from what Holden is saying, to have been conclusively got wrong by the current government. Labor went to the election with a policy of supporting the car industry. The Coalition has not agreed to go with Labor’s policy and they are taking half a billion dollars out of the car industry support fund.
BEVAN: Holden says it just costs too much to build a car in Australia. Why is Labor’s response always to tax people and then give money to a multi-national company, why is that your response?
SHORTEN: Oh no, seriously, for the years that Labor was in power, tax as a proportion of the total economic activity –
BEVAN: Well but that’s –
SHORTEN: Sorry, I’m answering the question. You’ve just –
BEVAN: But Bill Shorten, that’s where you would have got your half a billion dollars from. You would have taxed people and given that to a multi-national –
SHORTEN: Yeah, you’re right and we wouldn’t have given, and let’s talk about what that actually means, let’s get down to the fact that in Elizabeth there are thousands of people working, there are even thousands more working in Victoria, there are even thousands more than that working on car components. The debate that this Parliament has this week is, do we want to have a car industry in Australia? And Labor does and the Coalition says it’s all too hard. There’s no political spin. Let’s skip all the ‘who said what’. Let’s even skip the blame component. Let’s for a moment imagine it’s not Liberal or Labor, forget the labels. One political party in Australia says it’s worth using some resources to help keep people in work, to have these skills, the design, the small businesses, the other mob just don’t care.
BEVAN: Well let’s listen to the man who ran the company, Mike Devereux, and he says “it just costs too much.” So what did your government do to lower the cost of production what did you do to lower the cost of making stuff?
SHORTEN: We made sure there was a good workplace relations system in place. What the workers that Holden do, they took modest increases and no changes in order to keep the company there. We created an industrial relations system where that was possible. We also provided support to help transform the industry so that we could have higher tech parts and cars going and we also provided more expenditure on the skills training of apprentices you’ve got the Coalition who said before the election they’re the best friend the car industry will ever have. Well with friends like this, I’m glad I’m not an enemy of the Coalition, goodness knows what would happen.
BEVAN: We also had Federal Labor and State Labor leaders saying in February 2011 and in March this year that they had guaranteed the future of Holden.
SHORTEN: And we had for a number of years.
BEVAN: Well no, you had for a number of months. In March this year you said it was guaranteed, in February 2011 you said it was guaranteed for 10 years it didn’t last more than a few months.
SHORTEN: It didn’t last more than three months under a Coalition Government. Listen, if what you’re saying is that the Coalition Government has nothing to do with this decision then you and I disagree. You’re entitled to your opinion, I have facts to support what I’m saying. I genuinely believe it is worth Australia making cars. If you look at the largest economies in the world, 13 of the largest economies in the world have car manufacturing businesses.
Courtesy of this mob the Coalition, Tony Abbott, I don’t think we will necessarily have a car industry going forward. Now we’ve got Toyota left and the problem there is that a lot of the component suppliers need the volume of Holden to be able to supply Toyota. If people don’t want to vote for Labor because Labor wants to have a car industry, so be it. But if you want to have a manufacturing industry in Australia I am not going to give up, and if some people say ‘Australia can’t compete with the rest of the world’ and ‘daggy, old-fashioned economies have car industries and car jobs and other countries don’t,’ well I want to be in a country where we have a car industry I do think there’s a difference between the Coalition and us.
SHORTEN: I should say on Ian Macfarlane though, I distinguish from the other Coalition Ministers; I think he has tried to do his best –
BEVAN: Well what should he do to save what’s left? What should he do?
SHORTEN: Oh, I think he should try and get the Government to reverse their hard-line position about not dealing with Holden. Now he’s got to defend the company line of the Coalition, but even though I’m Labor and he’s Liberal, I think he as an individual has tried his best. Do you really think that if this had been GrainCorp the Coalition would have done nothing? So why is it that an automotive manufacturing job in a city is not viewed worth supporting? It was only a matter of weeks ago that the Coalition decided to give $9 billion to the Reserve Bank, yet they can’t find $120-150 million to support thousands of jobs.
What the Coalition will do is say “oh, we shouldn’t be supporting inefficient industries”. Well what are they going to do with all the people who lose their jobs? I hear fanciful plans, “oh, everyone can just get on a plane and go and work at Olympic Dam” or that everyone can move into the bio-med industry. These people have already got jobs. What’s it going to cost the taxpayer in unemployment benefits? What’s it going to cost in terms of family dislocation? What’s it going to cost small business? We have got a Coalition Abbott Government who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
BEVAN: Bill Shorten, thanks for talking to us.
SHORTEN: Thank you for listening, I appreciate it.
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