Coalition would kill car industry “stone dead”: Combet

Industry minister Greg Combet has defended the level of government support given to automotive makers in Australia, claiming that a Coalition government would cut funding

In an interview with the ABC's AM, Combet spoke of today’s car summit, claiming that it would bring, “the major players in the motor vehicle manufacturing sector together and identified the key pressures that the industry is facing at present and discussing what the public policy settings should and may not be to ensure that the Government assists the industry meet those pressures.”

When asked why subsidies to car-makers needed to continue, following reports that the government was in talks with Toyota Australia regarding further targeted investment in the company, Combet mentioned Australia’s capability to design and build a car from start to finish. It was one of only 13 countries able to do so, and this capability needed to remain.

 “Twenty-five per cent of all the research and development spending for example in the manufacturing industry as a whole is carried out in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry,” said the minister.

“It's important for technologies like robotics and their application to manufacturing production. That's a capability we don't want to lose.”

“It's very important to contrast what the two sides of politics are offering,” said Combet.

“The Coalition… is proposing to take $500 million of support away to 2015 and after that put at risk another $1.5 billion.

“And without that confidence and that support in the industry, the Coalition will kill it stone dead if they are elected later this year at the election.”

AM also reported that Combet and Prime Minister Julia Gillard had not met with Ford since its controversial announcement that it would cease manufacturing in Australia in 2016.