Shorten will protect car jobs, whatever the cost

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Shorten will protect car jobs, whatever the cost

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says he is determined to protect the car industry, despite the fact that it has cost about $300,000 to save each vehicle production job over the last decade — for a total cost of about $12b.

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Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says he is determined to protect the car industry, despite the fact that it has cost about $300,000 to save each vehicle production job over the last decade — for a total cost of about $12b.

Shorten told the ABC yesterday that the car industry ‘is a special case’.

‘I would say let’s not be short-term about manufacturing,’ he said.

‘The car industry is a special case. It generates research and development. It has a multiplier effect in jobs.

‘Australia is a nation which should be capable of making things here and the Australian nation is capable of making modern cars which will suit the consumer demand of the next decade.’

Strategic investment
 
‘I think this is a strategic investment to support jobs, to support manufacturing, to support economic activity in Australia which is independent of the rest of the world.’

Shorten’s comments come as media reports indicate that some members of the Opposition are reconsidering their commitment to the vehicle industry ― with a vehement debate about whether to stick to the decision to cut $500m from the Automotive Transformation scheme.

Industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella and resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane want the cut abandoned, but Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey wants it maintained and has support for this view within the shadow cabinet.

On Wednesday, three backbenchers ― Mal Washer, Don Randall and Alby Schultz ― called for a reduction in vehicle industry assistance.

‘Stupid’
 
Washer said it was ‘stupid’ to keep subsidising the vehicle industry if it was not viable in Australia.

This view was backed by former Hawke Government finance minister Peter Walsh who said that if the car industry could not become internationally competitive in the medium and long term is ‘should not be propped up’.

Manufacturing Minister Kim Carr was in Detroit earlier this week lobbying Ford and General Motors to maintain their commitment to the Australian car industry.

Commenting on allegations that subsidies to vehicle manufacturing in Australia were a waste of money Shorten defended such industry support.

‘I think if you spoke to the car companies, or the 46,000 people who are involved in car manufacturing or the other local businesses who get jobs and business or indeed all the apprentices, or indeed all the R and D, which comes from a domestic car industry, I think opinion is quite supportive of maintaining and making cars in Australia,’ he said.

Outrage
 
‘I’m not buying the argument that we should just give up on manufacturing in Australia. I don’t buy the argument that we shouldn’t make cars in Australia. If we let these jobs go, I think the outrage will be far greater.’

‘That’s why the Liberal Party need to work out what they think about the car industry. They’ve targeted the money which we are using to support the car industry. They’ve said they’ll scrap it.’
 
‘So I think it’s a challenge for SA and Vic Coalition MPs to say to the people of Victoria and South Australia, well, actually we don’t want the car industry, we’ll just let it go.’
 
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