Manufacturing to be hot federal election issue

The automotive sector’s difficulties have meant that manufacturing policies are a prominent election topic this year.

Holden’s announcement this week that it would be encouraging workers to take pay cuts, and its repeated threats to leave the country if any pledged government assistance is withdrawn, have meant that the government and opposition’s policies will come under scrutiny as the election (scheduled for September 14) grows closer.

“The industry's extremely important and the Government wants it to have a strong future,” industry minister Greg Combet told the ABC.

“And we're providing the support for jobs in the industry to make sure that that future is secure.”

The opposition has said it will withhold $500 million in industry assistance up to 2015. Holden has agreed to a 10-year plan with the federal government leading up to 2022, and has said it will cease manufacturing in Australia in 2016, along with Ford, if any of that funding is cut.

The Coalition hasn’t launched its manufacturing policy yet, but shadow industry minister Sophie Mirabella said thsi week that she is confident Australia’s car manufacturing industry would continue if the Coalition were to win government.

“We want a viable car industry for Australia's future and I'm not going to get into this silly hypotheticals,” said Mirabella.

“We're focused on what we can do to have a long term industry into the future.

“Manufacturing is very diverse and there are parts that are very successful. It's not for government to tell which industries should continue and which shouldn't. The job of government is to ensure that its decisions do not impose undue costs on those businesses.”