THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
SENATOR THE HON KIM CARR
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER FOR SCIENCE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION, AND INDUSTRY
SENATOR FOR VICOTRIA
WEDNESDAY, 18 DECEMBER 2013
SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s woefully inadequate support for Holden workers, National Disability Insurance Scheme under threat.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION BILL SHORTEN: Good afternoon everyone, I’m here at Holden’s Fishermans Bend plant in Melbourne with Labor’s Industry Spokesperson Kim Carr. Today’s announcement by the Abbott Government is woefully inadequate. It provides little support to thousands of people and hundreds of small businesses who’ve been dreadfully affected by the decision of Holden to close its doors in 2017.
Holden and generations of Australians, generations of governments over the last 65 years have worked hard to have a viable manufacturing industry and a car industry in Australia. It’s taken the Abbott Government less than 100 days to wreck a motor car industry which successive generations of Australians have built up over 65 years.
It isn’t right that the Abbott Government is proposing to offer some tax payer money now when for want of them taking decisive action earlier there’d by thousands of jobs beyond 2017. The Abbott Government savagely cut half a billion dollars from a viable, successful car industry in Australia and is only offering back only $60 million dollars which is 12 per cent of what they should have been putting into the car industry under Labor.
Today, Tony Abbott has said that the car workers, the Holden workers need to get on with their lives. No Mr Abbott, the car workers had good lives, as did Australian Holden drivers and owners until the Abbott Government was elected. It is the Abbott Government not telling workers to get on with their lives, it’s the Abbott Government getting on with their job of standing up for Australian jobs that’s the job which we expect of Mr Abbott this Christmas.
I might just ask my colleague industry shadow minister Kim Carr to make some further remarks on the inadequate car statement by the Abbott Government today.
SENATOR KIM CARR: Thank you Bill. Well today we have the Government responding to what is probably the biggest crisis facing manufacturing in our history. And what do they give us? A committee. A committee to look at the future of manufacturing.
Just look at the numbers, they are taking $500 million out of the industry, $215 million out of the investment plan we had so they are actually putting in only $60 million. Taking out $715 million putting in $60 million.
So what we are now faced with is a Government through their laziness, their indolence, failing to acknowledge the urgency of this situation and continuing that policy and not having any understanding of the long-term consequences of what they have done.
SHORTEN: Just before we take questions on the car industry there’s been another issue that has surfaced today which I’d like to briefly comment upon.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Christmas time needs to reassure thousands of people with severe and profound disabilities that Treasurer Hockey’s attack on the National Disability Insurance Scheme will not eventuate.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme provides the opportunity for thousands of Australians living with profound or severe impairments the opportunity of a better life. This Christmas the National Disability Insurance Scheme promises carers and parents in their seventies and eighties, who up to now have had midnights full of sleepless anxiety wondering who will look after their adult children when they no longer can.
The Abbott Government should not be so cruel this Christmas as to leave any doubt, any weasel words, any uncertainty in the minds of thousands of people with disabilities and their families.
This Christmas Prime Minister Abbott needs to say hands off the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Under both sides of politics the National Disability Insurance Scheme should not be a hostage to political point scoring, it should be left alone so that people with disabilities can have a proper life. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Hasn’t Tony Abbott given exactly what is needed? He’s talking about innovation, he’s talking about research, he’s talking about support for workers. Isn’t it making the best of a bad lot when Holden has said it’s leaving anyway?
SHORTEN: No. Sorry, but Holden wasn’t automatically going to leave, it was the Abbott Government who failed to seal the deal. Surely every Australian can see the craziness of the situation where the Abbott Government will pay taxpayer money to shut jobs but they couldn’t find any innovative policies to keep jobs.
The Abbott Government is scared of fighting and standing up for Australian jobs.
Holden did not have to close; there is no case for abandoning the car industry. The Abbott Government is throwing money now insufficient, too little too late, when none of this needed to happen. The Abbott Government could have stopped the whole Holden car industry debate if they’d simply done their day job and stood up for Australian jobs, Australian innovation and Australian engineering.
JOURNALIST: What do you think Toyota is going to take out of this from today?
SHORTEN: Well I’ll get my colleague Kim Carr to supplement this answer, but the message I think here is we now have an Australian Government who’s not open for business, they just want to give away the business to the rest of the world. We have an Australian Government who will turn up afterwards and give an insufficient, inadequate response to hundreds of small businesses and thousands of workers.
I think what Toyota would think today is the Australian Government is not fair dinkum about the car industry. The Australian Government won’t fight for Australian jobs. I believe there will be countries all around the world who are bidding to keep car industries, who’ll be telling Toyota, and telling Holden we want these jobs in our countries, the problem is we’ve got an Australian Government who will not fight for Australian jobs. But I might ask Kim to supplement on Toyota.
CARR: Can I first make a few points about Holden. For every dollar the Commonwealth put into Holden it generated $18 worth of economic activity. It bought us some of the most advanced technologies in the automotive world. It bought us high skill, high wage jobs for thousands and thousands of Australians. It bought us R&D centres, global R&D centres. It bought us some of the best robotics that the industry has anywhere in the world. For every dollar $18 were created.
Yet this Government has walked away from a $1 billion investment in manufacturing, a billion dollars was what General Motors wanted to put on the table, and now they have to find money to patch up, to patch up the disaster that they have created.
Now this is not a problem that is going to go away in a short period of time. This is a problem that will be with us here in Victoria and in South Australia for 20 years. But it’s not just South Australia, it’s not just Victoria. There are 7,000 workers directly employed in the automotive industry in New South Wales. There’s 7,000 in Queensland. There’s 2,500 in Perth. What does this package have to offer any of them?
On top of that, the package calls upon a program- the Automotive Structural Adjustment Program- that’s actually coming to an end in 2016. The workers will actually be asked to join a program that’s actually ended. If this was so inevitable, if this was such a foregone conclusion, which is a point that we strongly, strongly disagree with - but if it was such inevitability, why wasn’t there a proper package prepared? Why weren’t they prepared to actually stand up for Australian jobs and support the 3,000 companies that underpin the Australian automotive industry?
There’s 160 that are registered for the ATS, but there’s 3,000 small companies across this country that provide support to the Australian automotive industry. What do they get out of this?
JOURNALIST: Are you suggesting Mr Carr that Toyota will collapse as a result of this?
CARR: What I’m saying to you is that the prospects of Toyota being able to weather this storm created by the Australian Government of course are very bleak. Very bleak indeed. Because the Prime Minister has said exactly the same that he said to Holden - no more money.
Now Toyota needs the assistance to get the new generation Camry. They need assistance to get the new models that they’re planning. They need to be able to compete not just with other automotive manufacturers in this country, they need to compete against other branches of Toyota that operate around the world. That’s the way the industry actually operates.
If you think about General Motors, General Motors has 168 plants across the globe. It operates in 30 countries. Each country is bench marked against another country. The Prime Minister has failed to understand that and says of course that when we provide support to a company it’s corporate welfare. Well of course nothing could be further from the truth. It’s about attracting the investment, the skills, the new technologies. It’s about attracting the jobs to Australia to make Australia competitive in the 21st century.
SHORTEN: On the Prime Minister’s comments about corporate welfare, why is it that the Abbott Government can provide hundreds of millions of dollars of tax refund to the mining industry, yet on the other hand when it comes to manufacturing jobs, the Abbott Government says that providing taxpayer support is somehow silly.
This Christmas, the big issue that we go to is will the Abbott Government fight for Australian jobs in 2014. If the Abbott Government doesn’t start fighting for car manufacturing jobs now, what Australian jobs will be left by the time the Abbott Government has finished with manufacturing?
JOURNALIST: What does it mean for Labor when you’re looking at unionised jobs that have been lost and unions being a big part of your support base?
SHORTEN: The issue isn’t Liberal or Labor, the issue is do we believe in Australia that we can compete with the rest of the world? Do we believe in Australia that we can be a country that makes things, not just mines things?
There are thousands of high skilled jobs in the automotive industry which are going, or at risk because of the Abbott Government. The Abbott Government literally should come down and have a look at how real people earn their living and how they contribute to the Australian economy and Australian communities.
Before the election, you couldn’t visit a factory without tripping over a Liberal politician in high-vis gear. What no one realised is that the Coalition where never actually looking at the work that was done in these facilities.
Australian manufacturing is world class. Australian workers are world class. We’ve got an Abbott Government who basically has said to one million people in manufacturing, and thousands of small businesses, we’re not open for manufacturing business in this country.
The Abbott Government needs to quickly reverse its policy, and the idea that you’ve got Prime Minister Abbott just telling Australian workers that they have to ‘get on with their lives’ - well Australian workers want to be able to get on with their jobs, they just don’t want a government selling their jobs overseas very cheaply.
JOURNALIST: With the NDIS, why do you think the costs have blown out so significantly?
SHORTEN: First of all, let’s have a look at this scare campaign being run by the Coalition against the NDIS. There’s a Coalition play book where before they go hard against the idea, they start saying that there’s a crisis in the idea. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a very good idea. It’s being trialled at launch sites all round Australia. The purpose of having the launch sites was to investigate, to make sure, how the scheme can work most effectively.
The purpose of the launch sites was never to kill the idea, it was rather to make sure, looking at the experiences of the consumers- people with disabilities, how it goes.
I am very wary of Mr Abbott running a classic negative scare campaign against the NDIS, saying people it’s all too expensive and too hard - and then what they will do is eventually start cutting back the scheme.
On behalf of people with disabilities in Australia, and their families and carers, Tony Abbott just needs to completely rule out that people with disabilities are going to get duded by the government. That will be a very cruel thing to do this Christmas.
JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott is acknowledging that he’ll probably have to negotiate with the paid parental leave scheme [inaudible].
SHORTEN: Mr Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme is a $22 billion gold thought bubble. For a small portion of that money, we would have tens of thousands of men and women working at Holden and component companies with secure futures for the next decade.
The Abbott Government has never seen a multimillionaire that they won’t give a leg up to, but the same problem goes is that they’ve never seen a blue collar job that they will fight hard for.
The issue here is that why on earth is the Abbott Government proposing a $22 billion scheme for a lot of people who don’t need the extra generosity, and yet waving goodbye to thousands of car jobs and providing them with very little in recompense for years of loyalty and service to Australian manufacturing.
Thanks everyone, have a nice Christmas if we don’t see you before then.
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Fiona Scott 0407 294 620 (CARR)