Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (19:56): I rise to speak against the Automotive Transformation Scheme Amendment Bill 2014, because this is a bill that spells disaster for the 200,000 Australian men and women who rely directly and indirectly on the automotive manufacturing industry for their jobs.
The bill that is currently before the House will see cut $500 million in funding from the Automotive Transformation Scheme between now and 2017. It will then see the scheme terminate at the end of 2017, leaving no support for surviving Australian components companies—zero. If passed, this bill will likely lead to the early closure of Holden, crippling South Australia's economy further and leaving companies and workers in the wilderness much sooner than they were promised.
We know that every South Australian has an absolutely vivid memory of the appalling events of late last year when this government goaded Holden into announcing their departure from Australia. The government went out of their way to drive Holden away from our nation. There was some truly despicable behaviour from members of the government, including from South Australian members, who openly and aggressively
betrayed the workers in our home state. Then of course we heard that the Prime Minister had the gall to tell these workers—some of whom had been in the company for decades; some of whom had worked their entire working lives for Holden—that unemployment would be good for them. In fact, he said: 'Some of them will find it difficult, but many of them will probably feel liberated to pursue new opportunities and get on with their lives.' Thank you very much for those words,
Mr Prime Minister, which show just how completely and utterly out of touch you are. I have spoken directly with those Holden workers, and I am yet to come across one who is grateful to the government for 'liberating' them by driving Holden away from South Australia and
Australia. That was clearly not the sentiment that was echoed on the ground by workers.
South Australians absolutely know the impact the closure of Holden will have on our local economy. It is a shame that the Liberal South Australian members in this House either do not know or they just do not care. When you have a look at the speakers' list, you will see that not a single South Australian Liberal or National has put their name down as having the guts to come into this place and justify these cuts. One has wandered in now. Maybe he will stand up and justify cutting $500 million from South Australian industry or else he will just join with every other one of the South Australian gutless Liberals who will come in here and vote with the government but do not have the guts to stand up and put the case as to why they are betraying our local economy and our local workforce.
Now that the decision has been made by Holden to close operations in Australia, we need to look at the best way to transition the workers and reduce the impact on our economy as much as possible. We need to assist these workers during this very difficult time-and this is not best done by ripping $500 million out of auto assistance.
It is critical that governments do not pre-empt the closure of the industry and risk the early closure of firms before 2017 by reducing available funding. That is why I am proud to come in here and vote against this bill. That is why I come in here and stick up for those workers who are already facing an uncertain future and do not need those opposite making it any harder.
South Australia needs this funding in place to assist with the transition of these workers, to help the industry and to help rebuild jobs and maintain capabilities in our local economy. We know that the premature closure of motor vehicle producers and the hundreds of firms in the automotive supply chain would send thousands of Australian jobs offshore long before 2017, and we on this side of the House are prepared to stand up and fight against that. That would mean that 50,000 direct Australian jobs in the car industry were at risk, and a further 200,000 jobs which rely indirectly on the industry were on the line.
In government, Labor's investments ensured that Australia maintained an auto industry in the face of the global financial crisis, in the face of global industry restructuring and in the face of a record high Australian dollar. Labor's approach is based on co-investments—not handouts, as the previous speaker would have us believe. The industry actually only received support when it invested. So, whilst the previous speaker talked about 'financial prop-ups', let's look at the reality of this. The reality is that $17.40 is the per capita cost of car industry support for Australians. This compares with $90 per capita for every German, $264 for every American and $334 for every Swede. So those opposite cannot come into this place and say that this was an industry that only survived due to unreasonable pro pups by the Australian taxpayer. That is simply not true, and the facts do not back it up.
We know that auto is also the largest research and development contributor in the Australian manufacturing sector, contributing almost $700 million annually. Reports from both academia and industry show that it would cost the government more to see this industry fall over than it would to support it to survive. This again proves that when it comes to the economy this government stands for short-term gain and long-term pain. We see that over and over again, and sadly we South Australians see it all too acutely on too many occasions.
Modelling from the University of Adelaide shows that the loss of the industry will have a negative annual shop of $29 billion by 2017, or about two per cent of GDP. We know that Labor's support was critical in keeping the industry here and attracting new investments, new models and new capacity— with four out of 10 of Australia's top-selling cars made locally. The previous speaker wants to talk about consumer choice but let's just revisit that figure: four out of the 10 top-selling cars in Australia have been made locally.
Due to the decisions made by the government since the election, South Australia is projected to lose around 24,000 jobs—something those opposite can be particularly proud of!
Welfare payments and lost tax revenue from an industry shut-down are projected to exceed $20 billion across the country, and it will be more than 10 years before the economy recovers from the underlying hit to GDP. These are the facts when it comes to South Australia. These are the facts that those members opposite should come in here and justify if they are going to support this bill.
We know that gross regional product in Adelaide will not recover until 2031—nearly two decades away—as a result of the decisions of this government, and as a result of members opposite and how they vote on this bill. But it is clear that since the election South Australia has been absolutely abandoned by the Abbott government. The South Australian members opposite are more concerned about their own jobs than those of the workers in our home state. Every step of the way, South Australians have been promised one thing and then given the exact opposite. Before the election we know that the Prime Minister told South Australians, 'I want to see car-making survive in this country—not just survive but flourish.' That is what he told voters before the election.
In July last year the member for Sturt—sadly, the most senior South Australian Liberal that we now have; a South Australian frontbencher—went and met with Holden workers. This is what he told the media afterwards. He said, 'I have a long-standing commitment to keep Holden operating in South Australia.' Well, didn't that commitment fly out the window as soon as the election came and went! We know that both the Prime Minister and leading South Australian members have completely trashed the industry and are now trying to stick the boot into Holden further with the bill that is before the House. On our side, we will stand up for every one of those Holden workers. We will stand up for South Australian jobs and we will stand up for the South Australian economy.
Of course we know that there is a pattern that has been emerging when it comes to those opposite and the way that they treat South Australian jobs, because we also heard before the election defence minister Senator Johnston tell South Australians: We will deliver those submarines right here at ASC in South Australia. He said: The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide.
Well, surprise, surprise! That commitment, too, has flown out the window. In exactly the same way as Holden workers been betrayed we now see the betrayal in our shipbuilding yards.
It looks as if the Abbott government will buy their submarines from abroad, instead. With South Australian having 27,000 defence jobs—3,000 of them in shipbuilding—this will further crush our economy by sending even more South Australian jobs offshore. Before the election, the Prime Minister told South Australians there would be no cuts to health and education, but of course we have also seen that that is an utter falsehood. Yet again, I say: look at this speakers' list. Not a single South Australian member of the government will dare to stand up and try and justify this bill and these cuts.
We know that the Prime Minister is prepared to play chicken with the livelihoods of Australian men and women but, unlike the South Australian members who sit opposite, I will not stand idly by and watch the Abbott government bring on the early closure of Holden and send even more Australian jobs off shore. I will not stand by and let this government continue to betray the South Australian workforce. In fact, my colleagues and I will do everything in our power to stop these cuts to the Automotive Transformation Scheme.
We stand here and proudly say that we do not support this bill. We call on the crossbenchers and the minor parties to stand up for Australian jobs, to stand up for Australian manufacturing and to block these cuts in the Senate.
If there is ever any doubt from the government, crossbenchers or minor parties about how the early closure of Holden will affect our state, I invite them to visit Adelaide to speak to the workers firsthand and say directly to those workers what they intend to say in this chamber during this debate. We have seen the history here. We have seen what they actually have the guts to say to people's face. The Prime Minister said, 'I want to see car-making survive in this country, not just survive but flourish.' That is what he told the workers to their face. The education minister said, 'I have a longstanding commitment to keep Holden operating in South Australia.' That is what he had the guts to say to their face. Do not stand up in this chamber and say one thing about how these cuts are necessary. Do not stand up in this chamber and try and justify these cuts when not a single member opposite has the courage to say it directly to the Holden workers. I am willing to bet that they do not have the courage to go and say to the Holden workers what they are saying now, late on a Tuesday evening, to the parliament. So I invite them to speak firsthand to not only the workers at the Holden plant but also those working in the car components and related industries nearby, those working right across Australia supporting Holden workers and the auto
industries, those running businesses in the north of our state that will also be wiped out if those opposite have their way.
You would be hard-pressed to find a South Australian who will not be affected either directly or indirectly if the economy takes the massive hit that this bill helps to encourage. It is why we will absolutely stand up in this place and say the same thing that we will say to Holden, the same thing that we will say to components manufacturers, the same thing that we will say to the workers who rely on us to stand up and fight for their jobs—and that is that on this side of the House we have your back. On this side of the House we will actually stand up and fight for the local economy. We will fight for manufacturing and we will fight for South Australia despite the ongoing betrayals by those opposite who have broken every commitment they have made and betrayed all of those workers who relied on them keeping their word.