Gillard sends supportive email to automotive industry

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has sent an email to members of the automotive sector to calm their nerves about the future of the industry, assuring them she doesn’t think it is an ‘old industry’ of the past.

[Image, right: Julia Gillard attending the Holden Cruze launch in Elizabeth in 2011.]

The purpose of Gillard’s email was to stop car-makers worrying about their future, and to confirm the government’s support for the sector.

“I’m sure you have been following all of the recent reports about the future of manufacturing and the automotive industry in Australia. As a result, many of you may be worried about your future in the industry,” said Gillard in the email.

“As Prime Minister, I wanted to write to you personally to let you know that I am determined to secure a strong and sustainable future for manufacturing in this country.”

Gillard cites the manufacturing industry as important not only for the one million people it employs, but also for the “entire economy”.

“Manufacturing isn’t an ‘old industry’ of the past, but a highly skilled, innovative industry that must be part of our future,” she said.

“Making vehicles is central to our manufacturing capability and central to the lives of 46,000 Australians and their families. Just like you, those Australians directly employed and the more than 200,000 Australians, whose jobs in part depend on the automotive sector, want to know their government is with them, not against them.”

Gillard also used the opportunity to list the positive steps the government has made to help those working in the auto sector.

“I can assure you that we are with you. That’s why the Government is providing $5.4 billion through our New Car Plan to support investment and innovation in the automotive industry,” she said.

“It’s why I have personally established a Manufacturing Taskforce, which will develop a vision for Australia to be an international leader in advanced manufacturing and map out the steps to achieve this.

“And I will keep standing up for the automotive industry, with a clear plan to support the industry through to at least 2020.”

Gillard mentions the “tough” working conditions manufacturers are struggling with, including the high Australian dollar, high commodity prices and the fallout from the global financial crisis.

“However, if we make the right decisions and work together through this period of difficulty, Australian manufacturing can have a bright future,” she said in her email.

The automotive sector has been under the spotlight these past weeks, with Ford accepting a $103 million injection from its parent-company General Motors, and the Victorian and Australian governments, for future research and development projects.

Holden is reportedly considering a joint-government-parent-company bail-out of its own, worth $200 million, which would ‘safeguard’ the car-maker until 2022. The company announced last week that it is eradicating the second shift at its Elizabeth plant due to lowering export sales to the United States.

Toyota refused assistance from the government, announcing it will make 350 ‘compulsory redundancies‘.

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