PM to visit “blue collar” workers at Ford Broadmeadows

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Manufacturing Minister Senator Kim Carr will show their support for Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry this morning by visiting workers at Ford’s Broadmeadows factory.

[Image, right: In February last year Julia Gillard visited Holden’s Broadmeadows facility for the launch of the Cruze.]

The duo will share their vision for the future of car manufacturing with the “blue collar” workers, Senator Carr told ABC News Radio.

“It’s to talk with workers on-site. Blue collar workers deserve the support of the Australian government as they do deserve the support of state governments in their quest to ensure that Australia remains a highly advanced manufacturing country,” he said.

“What we are doing at Broadmeadows today is discussing with workers on the line their aspirations to be part of a prosperous Australian future.”

The visit follows an announcement last week that Ford and the government will inject $103 million into the local Falcon and Territory SUV operations, creating 300 jobs and securing the company’s future until 2016.

The government’s $34 million portion of the fund will come out of the existing Automotive Transformation Scheme.

Now, Senator Carr is working on Holden’s parent-company, General Motors, to follow suit, and invest a much higher sum in its Elizabeth production plants.

“We’re looking to work with General Motors to secure new investment for the period out beyond 2016 and to do so within the next two months,” said Senator Carr.

The fund would go towards upgrading the Elizabeth production plants, which produce Australia’s Cruze small car, and would also support research and development and engine production at Holden’s Fishermans Bend plants.

“There are nearly 4,000 people employed in those facilities and we want to ensure that they can look to the future with confidence as the 200,000-odd people that are dependent upon the automotive industry should be able to look to governments to work with them to secure the future for the automotive industry,” Senator Carr said.

The Manufacturing Minister has been calling for the Coalition to support his plan by revising its decision to cut $500 million in automotive entitlements.

However, in a press release issued by Senator Carr’s office yesterday, the Minister claimed he has no confidence in Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s intentions.

“Labor had great hopes for the Opposition’s review. We hoped to see a reversal of the Coalition’s suicidal $500 million proposed cut to automotive industry entitlements. We hoped to see a united front for a vital Australian industry, to send the right signals to the global investors,” he said.

“We’ve all been disappointed by the Opposition bickering we saw last week. It’s time for Mr Abbott to make good his promises to the 46,000 Australian auto workers; and the more than 200,000 Australians whose jobs rely on the business of our auto makers.”