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Car accessory industry ‘missing out’

Canberra bulldust: Accessory manufacturers believe they are missing out on government assistance.

Aftermarket manufacturers slam Canberra for favouring car company suppliers

General News logo14 Aug 2012

AUTOMOTIVE accessory makers have criticised the federal government for excluding them from the latest $35 million co-investment scheme for component manufacturers, saying Canberra only wanted to know about the $11 billion aftermarket industry when it spruiked employment and export figures.

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association executive director Stuart Charity said Australian aftermarket manufacturers were not eligible for any support under federal government programs designed to promote innovation, green initiatives and export opportunities in the automotive industry.

“It seems that if you don’t sell your Australian-manufactured car parts to a multi-national car company, the Australian government does not consider your business to be part of the automotive industry,” he said.

“When the AAAA challenged the federal government, we were advised that it is ‘long standing government policy’ to support only those supplying local vehicle manufacturers.

“Australian aftermarket manufacturers are delivering globally competitive, innovative products as well as employment, exports and economic wealth to Australia with limited assistance from government.

“There is, however, no doubt that the pressures on our highly trade-exposed manufacturers are significant and we need to act quickly and decisively to secure our manufacturing base in the longer term.

80 center imageLeft: AAAA executive director Stuart Charity.

“If we lose these manufacturing jobs off-shore due to a lack of government support, they will be gone forever.”

Last week, innovation and industry minister Greg Combet announced a $35 million Automotive New Markets Initiative, which is designed to help struggling car parts-makers find new export markets or develop products for other industries.

Most of the money will go in dollar-for-dollar grants of up to $1 million to manufacturers to support new business initiatives to help them survive the plunge in local car volumes.

Mr Charity said locally built cars now made up only 14 per cent of the one million vehicles sold in Australia each year.

He said the aftermarket industry turned over $11 billion a year, exported $800 million worth of product and employed 30,000 people.

“This massive industry must be accepted,” he said.

“And the federal government must also accept the Australian automotive aftermarket as part of a new and different Australian automotive manufacturing industry. It must be an industry focused on innovation and export.

“The AAAA is not seeking special subsidies or co-investment funding from the Australian government. Aftermarket manufacturers simply want equal access to Federal Government automotive industry programs that support innovation and export.”

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