SENATE COMMITTEE WANTS SWEEPING CHANGES TO GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO AUTO SECTOR TO PREVENT TSUNAMI OF JOBS LOSSES

1 December 2015

AT THE CROSS-ROADS

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, says there’s now “real hope” for car-making to remain in Australia post 2017 but it requires the Federal Government to make the right policy decisions including freeing up the $700 million Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS).

Senator Xenophon was speaking on the tabling today in the Senate of the final report, Driving Jobs and Investment, by the Economics Committee into the future of the automotive industry.

“This is an important report coming at an important time – it shows that there is real hope emerging in the sector that car-making will continue in Australia. But it needs the right policy settings and that means the ATS must be freed up to allow much more diversification and new players to be encouraged to continue our car-making heritage,” said Nick.

“I am hopeful that the Turnbull Government, with Industry and Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne, will radically change the approach of the previous Abbott Government and be supportive of projects to revive car manufacturing in Australia post 2017.”

The Committee held five public hearings from March to October this year and received 38 submissions.

Senator Xenophon, who served on the Committee, backed its 20 recommendations, including the Government:

  • “recognise that the (auto) industry will endure” rather than assume it will close down with the end of car-making by Ford, Toyota and Holden
  • widen the eligibility of the ATS to include more components makers, after market manufacturers and exporters of engineering and research and development services
  • develop a strategy to “avoid a social and economic catastrophe arising in those areas most affected by the closure of vehicle manufacturing”.

Senator Xenophon warned that unless the Federal Government changed its approach to the closure of auto-making then a “Tsunami” of up to 200,000 job losses would engulf southern Australia in the next year.

Senator Xenophon said credible companies had emerged which could capitalise on the vacant manufacturing capacity to left behind in 2016 and 2017.

“I have met with Australian companies Ethan Automotive and Red Automotive Technologies, and Belgian company Punch Corporation, who want to be part of a revival of the auto sector and should be engaged with as a matter of urgency,” said Nick.

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