PM says car bail-outs will ensure resources boom doesn’t ‘hollow out’ manufacturing

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she doesn’t want to see the resources boom negatively affect local manufacturing, claiming the car industry bail-outs will safeguard this sector against obscurity. 

Gillard was speaking to automotive assembly workers at the Ford factory at Broadmeadows yesterday morning, which she visited with Manufacturing Minister Senator Carr to explain the government’s new car industry plan.

Last week Gillard and Carr announced $103 million of funding – $34 million from the government and the rest from Ford’s head office in the US – and 300 new jobs for Ford’s Australian operations, reportedly safeguarding the company until at least 2016.

“I’m very determined as Prime Minister, as we go through this period of economic change, that we emerge with a diversified economy with many sources of strength, including manufacturing,” Gillard told the Ford workers. 

“I don’t want to see the resources boom hollow out other parts of the Australian economy, which is why we are working with the car industry to make sure we hold these jobs and these skills and capabilities in Australia.”

Carr told the workers that the automotive industry, which employs 46,000 people, is too important to the Australian economy to let it wither. 

“Today’s visit allows us the opportunity to talk directly with workers here at Broadmeadows about their future, and about the Government’s commitment to ensure that they have a prosperous future,” he said. 

“We are talking to people right across the industry in this country because we value highly the importance of the automotive industry – not just because the capacity to make a motor car, but because of its importance to manufacturing generally.”

Gillard and Carr also used the opportunity to call on the Liberal party to support their manufacturing plan.

“Premier Baillieu, a Liberal Premier, has joined with us in these endeavours and I thank him for that. In contrast, Tony Abbott is saying no to the jobs of these Australian workers – simply saying no to them having their jobs. Now, that is an irresponsible approach,” said the Prime Minister. 

Carr said the Liberal Party had an “obligation” to Australia’s manufacturing industry, and especially car manufacturing, which he said is the “foundation stone” of manufacturing.

“We have the capacity in this country to be able to be part of a great global industry and to remain part of it, but it requires investment, new investment. It needs constant attention. It’s not a set-and-forget policy area. It’s an area which we must work closely with everyone involved to maintain our international competitiveness,” he said.

“And that’s why I’m calling upon the Liberal Party to fulfil its obligations to blue-collar workers, to working people of this country, and actually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in what has been the most difficult year, probably, since 1957.”

The Prime Minister and Manufacturing Minister are currently working with Holden’s parent-company, General Motors in Detroit, to take Ford’s lead and invest in the future of its Australian operations.

Carr said this week that an announcement pertaining to this funding will happen in the next two months. 

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