Senator Carr responds to ‘Tough tax will kill car industry’

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, Senator Kim Carr, provides his view of an opinion piece published on Manmonthly.com.au last month called ‘Tough tax will kill car industry‘.

NOW is not the time to talk down the contribution of manufacturing to our economy and our way of life, as some market fundamentalists would have us do. They may tell us manufacturing is too weak to warrant taxpayer investment. They may urge us to pin our prosperity to the mining boom alone. 

I remain undaunted in my support for the million Australians in our workshops, factories and studios.

Manufacturing is a cornerstone of a balanced economy, and it belongs at the heart of Labor’s agenda for the nation. It is hardly the crumbling relic our opponents like to depict. Manufacturing value added grew by 4.9 per cent in the last calendar year, its exports increased by 2.4 per cent, and its productivity grew by 5 per cent. It will help to spread the benefits of the resource boom, and it will endure when the boom has faded.

Manufacturing firms are transforming themselves today to meet new challenges. The dollar is high. Energy costs are rising. The global auto market is restructuring in the wake of the worst global downturn in living memory. We are coping with climate change, flood recovery, and the supply chain impacts of the Japanese earthquake.

Smart enterprises regroup and retool to stay ahead. That is why, for three years, the auto industry and the Labor Government have worked hand-in-hand to deliver the promise of the New Car Plan for a Greener Future.

We saw that climate change was remaking the global economy, putting a premium on green cars and clean technology capabilities. We resolved to transform the auto industry to capitalise on the coming demand. The Government is investing $5.4 billion in the Australian auto industry to realise that shared vision – and the industry has confirmed its commitment in hard cash. 

If the Opposition had their way, there would be no Holden Cruze, no hybrid Camry, no Ford EcoBoost, and no Toyota engine plant. No investment in electric vehicles, lightweighting and new battery design.

The Labor Government will not let those capabilities fall victim now to their message of fear and apathy. The Plan saw the auto industry through the global economic crisis, and it has equipped us to attract new investment once the carbon price is fixed.

Through the Clean Business Australian program, and Clean 21 in Enterprise Connect, we have already started working with Australian manufacturers to prepare for climate change. And we will use every cent of the revenue we raise from the carbon price to keep our industries strong and our living standards secure.

Manufacturing has a proud history and a strong future in this country. I trust we will stand together to send that message to industry, to investors and to the Australian people.

Do you think Senator Carr has hit the nail on the head, and we should stop thinking ‘doom & gloom’? Comment below or on Twitter @manmonthly.