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Combet to consult on new policies

Left: Industry and Innovation minister Greg Combet.

Government to discuss current auto policy with key stakeholders

General News logo10 Jun 2013

INDUSTRY and Innovation minister Greg Combet will discuss potential new policy arrangements in a series of consultations with car-makers, parts suppliers, unions and other stakeholders.

There will be a particular emphasis on the parts supply chain, the group of about 200 mainly small companies that support the more prominent car-makers.

The development of new policy was briefly outlined in a communiqué issued in the wake of the car industry summit convened in Melbourne last Friday by prime minister Julia Gillard.

The communiqué was concerned principally with the re-training of the 1160 Ford workers who are to lose their jobs in 2016, and with assistance to the regions and the parts supply companies affected by Ford’s decision.

Participants at the summit stated that a successful automotive industry was a marker for an advanced economy, creating skilled jobs, driving high-level research and supporting other technologically sophisticated industries.

But assistance, according to supply chain representatives, is crucial.

“Representatives from the automotive supply chain pointed to the importance of the assistance to automotive supply chain companies to diversify their customer base and product range,” the communiqué read.

“Minister Combet indicated that following the meeting, he will be discussing prospective policy arrangements, including supply chain arrangements, with motor vehicle producers, component manufacturers, unions and other industry stakeholders.”“All parties will be consulted in this policy work over coming months, addressing issues facing motor vehicle producers, and associated companies engaged in the supply chain through component manufacturing.”

It was not clear whether this meant the government was prepared to reassess the terms of the current industry assistance plan, essentially drawn up before the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008, and which is scheduled to end in 2020.

The communiqué said the various measures now in place to help the retrenched Ford employees totaled $76 million – more than $63,000 each – and that did not include Ford’s contribution of $10 million to two funds, an Industry Fund and an Innovation Fund.

“All participants emphasized that displaced workers, affected regions and automotive supply chain firms are the highest priority and will be supported,” the communiqué read.

“The meeting acknowledged Ford’s contribution of $10 million to the Industry and Innovation Funds.

“Workforce, community and industry consultation and engagement will be vital in shaping and implementing these support measures on the ground, ensuring they meet local needs and are community based.”

The communiqué said that additional funding would be provided to help workers displaced from the parts industry to “maximize opportunities” under the Government’s economic development and diversification programs.

As part of this, the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers would receive funding so it could continue to represent the interests of the parts makers, many of which are losing money at present.

The innovation and investment funds would be used to diversify the employment and economic base of the regions, by creating new jobs through the stimulation of investment.

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