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Automotive manufacturing can be prosperous: Carr

Motor Carr: Shadow industry spokesperson Kim Carr says the future of the automotive industry is bright, particularly if a change of government occurs at the next election.

Former industry minister says closure of three car-makers not the end of the road

21 Aug 2015

THE automotive manufacturing sector can have a life after the death of the three local car-maker if local skills and expertise are backed by supportive policies, Opposition industry spokesperson Kim Carr has told the Australian Automotive Industry National Summit in Canberra.

However, he warned that hard times are ahead as a result of current policies, which he says will see around 200,000 jobs lost and $29 billion pulled out of the gross domestic product as Ford, GM Holden and Toyota shut their plants in the coming years.

“Be assured that I shall continue doing everything I can to help the industry make a successful transition to a future beyond the 2017 shutdowns,” he said.

“I have never wavered in my belief that there can be a prosperous future for the automotive industry in this country.”

He rejected the interim conclusion reached by the government senators on the current Senate enquiry into the future of the automotive industry.

In a minority report, South Australian Liberal senator Sean Edwards said he believed the Automotive Transformation Scheme would “come to a natural conclusion” when the Holden and Ford plants are shut.

“I reject that view in its entirety,” Senator Carr said.

“The automotive industry has an important role in the future of Australia’s economy.”

He said policy makers needed to redefine what the automotive industry should be, given that government policies were written with the express purpose of encouraging passenger motor vehicle production. New policies must have wider application and cover areas including research and development, supply chain capabilities, fuel efficiency and environmental standards, sales and retail services, aftermarket manufacturing, smash repairs, warranty and consumer protections, parallel imports and regulations that affect the cost of motoring.

“We have to look at the whole industry and open up possibilities for new sources of investment and growth.”

Senator Carr pointed to the Automotive Australia 2020 Roadmap research done by the AutoCRC.

“It’s an excellent piece of research. It highlights the enormous potential of Australia’s automotive industry to remain at the cutting edge of global advances in technology and product design.”

The Roadmap highlighted four areas that it considered would be critical in coming years: electrification, lightweighting, gaseous fuels and communications, data and telematics.

“What the conservative side of politics fails to appreciate is that securing investment in these areas relies on our ability to maintain the world-class automotive skills and capabilities that Australia has developed over generations,” Senator Carr said.

However, voters appear to appreciate the value of automotive manufacturing, he said.

“Polling undertaken by Newspoll after (the 2014 Victorian) election found that 17 per cent of voters in the crucial sand-belt electorates in Melbourne’s south-east had switched from the Coalition because of cuts to the Automotive Transformation Scheme.

“Component manufacturers are heavily concentrated in those seats.

“In January this year, another industry poll recorded swings of 10 per cent against the Coalition in Liberal-held federal electorates in South Australia.

“A change in government at the next federal election will change the policy settings for the automotive industry.

“Voters understand the importance of this industry, even if the present government does not.”

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