12th Dec 2013, 4:04 PM – Representatives Motions - Prime Minister; Censure
by leave-I move:
That the House censures the Prime Minister for doing nothing as Holden leaves Australia after 65 years and for failing to save Australian workers from job losses and in particular for:
(1) failing to do everything he could to keep Holden in Australia;
(2) failing to sit down, face to face, with Holden and work through what was needed to support Holden jobs;
(3) persisting with a $500 million cut to Australia's automotive industry even after receiving Holden's business case that would have saved Holden jobs;
(4) setting up a Productivity Commission inquiry with a reporting date in 2014 after the South Australian election when Holden needed immediate answers and immediate assistance;
(5) failing to lead a Government united in supporting Holden and protecting Australian manufacturing jobs;
(6) allowing his Ministers to encourage Holden to leave Australia;
(7) failing to have any strategy and any plan to support Holden workers who have lost their job two weeks before Christmas; and
(8) having no plan for Australian jobs, other than a plan to cut wages.
I believe it is crucial for this parliament, today, on the last day that the parliament is sitting, to censure the Prime Minister for not having a plan to save the Australian automotive industry. We have been told by the government that this is not a day of doom and gloom. Only a person who is not working at Holden or in the car components industry could adopt such a pollyanna, head-in-the-sky attitude.
Labor, the opposition, believe that we can have a car industry in this Australia. We believe that it is up to a government to assist to maintain manufacturing jobs in this country. One reason for censuring this Prime Minister is that, unlike Labor, unlike many Australians, the Prime Minister has made a decision by his inaction to not have a car industry in Australia. Today we asked if the Prime Minister even met with the leadership of Holden to talk about this issue-whether he had had not three meetings, not two meetings, but even a single meeting. But, when it comes to car manufacturing, we get no support for Australian car workers. We are having a censure motion today because this government and this Prime Minister are doing nothing to save the car industry. They have decided that competing with the rest of the world is too hard for Australia. They have a 'little Australia' mentality which says that we cannot manufacture cars in this country.
Most of all, we seek to censure the Prime Minister because he promised before the election that the car industry would be better off under Liberal. What he never said-what is in the fine print-is that the only reason he could say the car industry would be better off under the coalition is that there would be no car industry under the coalition and therefore he would never have to prove his case.
There are things which this government could have done. The cynical defence of the government about the Holden news, their case, essentially comes down to this: we are a First World country, and it is hard to make cars in a First World country. We have a global market and a high dollar; therefore it is just all too hard! This parliament should reject this shoulder-shrugging, responsibility-self-absolving government and their dereliction-they say, 'It is too hard to help.' The managing director of Holden made it clear in June. He said, 'If the incoming government, the coalition, were to keep the same policies as Labor, then we could do business.' Of course, what he did not count on is that the coalition never intended to do business.
Why is it that other First World countries can support their car industry more generously than we already do-and that is still too much for this government? In Germany: First World wages. Don’t blame the workers for the wages. In the United States: First World wages. Those governments support their car industry. In Australia we would not have to pay the sorts of subsidies they pay in Germany and the United States. But I can tell you one thing that you will get when you vote for Labor at the ballot box in three years. At least we will stand by manufacturing workers when you vote Labor. We understand the cost. We do not accept that life is too hard. We do not accept that things just happen-that life is not always beer and skittles. We do not accept that, as some in the government do-even those representing motor-car-making electorates. We will never give up on your voters, even if you will not defend them. The government have failed to do everything they can.
The government would have you believe it is just too hard in the modern world to make cars in Australia-it is just too hard. Is it too hard to have a meeting with Holden? I think not. Is it too hard to try and keep to your basic promises on the car industry? I think not. And is it too hard, even, to back up your industry minister? Let me make it clear: we are not censuring Ian Macfarlane. He might not have won the debate, but, from the very judicious leaking and backgrounding from his team of colleagues, at least we know he put up half a fight to defend the car industry.
Not only has this mob opposite failed to do enough, not only has the Prime Minister has been missing in action when it comes to saving hundreds of thousands of jobs-
Hundreds of thousands?
My advice to the Treasurer is this: stay silent and leave some of us in doubt as to your capacity. Do not speak and convince us.
There are 3,000 direct jobs at Holden. I do not know if the Treasurer has ever lifted the bonnet of a motor car, but if he had he would have seen that there are a lot of working parts, and they get made by component companies. Components are not all made by robots. They are not all made in Third World countries. They are made in Dandenong, in Bayswater and in South Australia. They are even made in Corangamite.
What we have is a government that has failed to do what it should have done. The Prime Minister cannot ring; he cannot talk to Holden. Those opposite do not even know how many people work in the industry. They cannot back their industry minister. They are certainly happy to background against the industry minister. They cannot even do what the Germans and the Americans do. This is world news: the Germans and the Americans, who subsidise their industries to levels that Labor would not recommend, at least back their industry.
Let me tell you why this Prime Minister should be censured. Holden has been here since 1948. It was a Labor Prime Minister, on 29 November, who waved hello to the first Holden motor car. It will be a Liberal Prime Minister who waves goodbye to the last Holden. Holden has been a good company to Australia.
Honourable members interjecting-
There is too much noise in the House. Stop the cross-chamber discussion and have some order.
Holden have been a good company to this country. They deserve better than the schoolyard baiting and taunting of the Treasurer of Australia. On Wednesday we saw the Treasurer of Australia, puffed up and proud, saying, 'We're not going to be played in a game of bluff by Holden.' He was right. He was not up to playing a game of poker with them. Joe Hockey called their bluff and now he has thousands of jobs around his neck.
His failure and that of the Prime Minister to keep Holden will be a defining moment of this government. The brand of Holden used to mean motor cars; now it means coalition job cuts. Let us not, in all of this process, blame the workers. We have seen sinister anti-worker attacks by some opposite, creeping from under the rocks. I acknowledge that the Prime Minister said, 'We don't blame the workers.' It is a shame, Prime Minister, that the members behind you are saying, 'They're paid too much.' In what could only be a brain snap a certain Liberal powerbroker backbencher from New South Wales-the member for Mitchell-tweeted that Holden workers are paid three times too much. They say that a tweet and its twit are soon separated. They certainly are! The member for Mitchell said that Holden workers are paid three times what they should be paid. The base rate of a Holden worker is $48,000. What a marvellous industrial relations prescription we have running on the back bench!
Let's not blame the workers. Let us acknowledge that this government has not done what it should have done for these jobs. Let us acknowledge also that there will be a real cost-I do not mean an electoral cost-in terms of thousands of jobs. There are 2,900 direct employees of Holden but how many component workers are supplying that Holden factory-making every part of that motor car? Treasurer, there are thousands more. That you do not know means that you should hang your head in shame.
Let's look at this marvellous saving that these economic rationalists opposite are talking about. They have said: 'We've outsmarted Holden. We're not going to give them $120 million. We're too smart; we're the coalition.' How much extra will those on the other side of the chamber pay in unemployment benefits and forgone taxes?
I know that most members opposite, at the human level, if they have had a family member who has lost a job would appreciate this point. Perhaps a couple over there would not but most of them would. They would appreciate the pressure on families. I have seen it when people have lost their jobs and I am sure some opposite have, too. Wait until mum and dad come home and they see the decision by Holden. The kids will be asking, 'What does this mean for our jobs?' Mum and dad will say, 'We've got a government that's too spineless to stand up for us, who won't find the money; but, do you know what?-we'll have to pay more taxes to pay for the retraining.' I love it!
Out in Senator-Abetz-land, he is saying, 'It'll be all right for those Holden workers. They can go to work in a uranium mine that has not yet started in the middle of the South Australian desert at Olympic Dam.'
That's somebody's job.
Fantastic! There goes the 'Minister for GrainCorp, chirping in again. He says, 'That'll do.' If you are an assembly-line worker who has spent 20 years at Elizabeth do you reckon you are ready to be retrained? They are skilled people-
Mr Joyce interjecting-
The redder and the louder you get, the argument does not get better, Sunshine.
This is not helping the workers. The government have told us this is an inevitability. They have said, 'Everyone knew this was going to happen. This has been a sure thing.' As we know, the Prime Minister says, 'Things happen in life.' If this has been such a foregone conclusion for so long, why don't they have a plan B, today? Where are all their bright ideas? I know they can scrap the carbon tax and the mining tax; how about helping workers get retrained?
This is why we censure the Prime Minister. Before the election, never in my wildest imagination would I have suspected that there would be such a cowardly performance by the government in surrendering manufacturing. There is an attitude from those opposite who say that modern First World countries do not make things anymore. Well, they are wrong.
I am happy to attend, with the Prime Minister, a meeting with the workers at Elizabeth. Let's go and talk with them. Let's go and talk to Holden workers together-you and me and the workers. We can talk. You can tell them all of your facts. You can tell them all your fine words. You can quote Christopher Pyne saying that today is not a day of doom and gloom. What I will say to the workers, the small businesses, the apprentices and the families of all these people who are displaced, is that if Labor had been in government we would not have let this happen.
We do not give up on manufacturing. We do not think that 'manufacturing' is a dirty word. Why on earth would this government say, of all things, 'it's too hard'? The real concern I have is not just the Holden workforce and the component workforce but what will happen with Toyota next. Look at this group opposite! All of you are the people who have decided we will no longer make cars in Australia. You have managed in three months to get rid of what it took Australia 65 years to build up. You are the wreckers of the car industry, you are the destroyers of jobs. Never could I have imagined before the last election, when recommending to people that they voted for us, that the problem was that if you got Tony Abbott you would lose a car industry. Even I would have thought that was an exaggeration.
But what we discovered yesterday and today is an administration sufficiently cynical that they fundamentally believe that they can sell a message to the Australian people that the world is too hard to compete in, that we cannot manufacture in Australia any more, that, if you pay people First World wages, somehow we cannot manufacture. This mob opposite have surrendered on Holden and the car industry-and let us not even list all the other jobs that have gone. You have been a busy government in three months. Electrolux, Simplot, CSIRO, Caterpillar, Peabody-you have a rollcall of jobs. But you will never ever shrug the shame: Holden has gone on your watch, and the car industry is in deep distress on your watch. This Prime Minister should be censured for giving up on Australian manufacturing jobs.
Is the motion seconded?
I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
I absolutely accept that the Leader of the Opposition is upset, disappointed, frustrated and angry. We are all upset to see Holden go. But there is one side of this parliament which is trying to help the motor industry, and there is another side which is playing politics. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that outrage is all very well for a union leader but it is not good enough for an alternative Prime Minister of this country. The Leader of the Opposition says that this would not have happened under Labor. But it did. Under Labor Prime Minister Gillard committed $275 billion to Holden and said Holden's future was secured for 10 years. It was not secured and the money did not work.
I say to the Leader of the Opposition and members opposite that we have tried throwing money at the motor industry but it just does not work. What we need to do if we are going to help the motor industry and the other manufacturing industries of this country is get the fundamentals right. We need to get taxes down, we need to get regulation down and we need to ensure that the great workers of Australia are unshackled and are able to be not just amongst the best paid workers in the world but amongst the most productive workers in the world. And that is what will happen under this government.
I hate to disturb the Leader of the Opposition with the facts, but the facts are that since the start of 2008 a manufacturing job has been lost every 19 minutes. That is what happened when members opposite were in power. That is what happened when members opposite were throwing $275 million at Holden-to no avail. What we need to do is approach this problem in a calm, considered and constructive way-and that is exactly what this government is doing. We started our campaign to help the motor industry by abolishing Labor's $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax hit on them. We are continuing our campaign to help the motor industry by abolishing the carbon tax, which adds $400 to the cost of every car produced in Australia, which damages domestic manufacturing and disadvantages it compared to foreign imports.
So there is one side which is doing what it can to help, and there is another side which is simply playing politics with this issue. Frankly, the Leader of the Opposition should be bigger than that. Until three months ago the Leader of the Opposition was a senior minister in a government which could not save Mitsubishi, which could not save Ford and which did not save Holden-even though they said they had saved Holden and even though they had spent $275 million extra trying to do it. Members opposite were completely shameless. I refer the House to a letter from the member for Wakefield, Mr Champion:
I have secured guaranteed support for Holden … ensuring production until 2022.
Why is it our job to save Holden when he said it was already saved, and when he invested $275 million which simply did not do the job?
I accept that this is a difficult time for manufacturing. I accept that this is a particularly devastating time for people employed by Holden-as it was earlier in the year for people employed by Ford. But I have faith in those workers, I have faith in our country and I have faith in the employers of this country. I am confident that, when the right policies are put in place, there will be jobs for those workers-because they are good people and they have a future in a strong and successful manufacturing economy.
The difficulty the Leader of the Opposition has is that he is arguing a case which not even Holden itself is arguing. He is arguing that, somehow, the problems of Holden in Australia are absolutely unique, and he is arguing that the problems of Holden are somehow uniquely caused by this government, a government that has been in place for less than three months. It is nothing to do with the government that was in place for six years and did not save Mitsubishi and did not save Ford and did not save Holden. It is all the fault of this government. I commend Mike Devereux for pointing out that Holden, in this country, has been hit by a perfect storm-high costs, high dollar and small markets. It has been hit by a perfect storm and, of course, Holden worldwide is in the middle of a restructure. I have faith in the workers of this country. I have faith in the companies of this country. I refuse to accept, as members opposite accept, as the Leader of the Opposition does, that the only way the workers of this country can be competitive and successful is with a massive ongoing government subsidy. I think the workers and the businesses of this country are better than that.
We will do what we can to ensure that the workers of this country, the businesses of this country, have a strong, profitable, viable and competitive future. We will do what we can to ensure that Holden and Ford workers, when they are no longer with those companies in 2016 and 2017, get the best possible economy in which to move. We will do our best to ensure that they are moving from one job to another job, that they are moving from a good job to a better job, that they are moving from a business that required subsidy to a business that does not require subsidy.
Mr Perrett interjecting-
Order! The member for Moreton.
That is what we will do, and we will make available the kind of funding-
Mr Perrett interjecting-
Order! The member for Moreton is warned.
which governments in the past have made available in areas that have been hit by this kind of restructuring. We will make that money available to try to ensure that Adelaide and Geelong and western Melbourne have the kind of dynamic, viable, ongoing businesses into which these skilled, hard-working and adaptable workers can move. There are industries where we are competitive-in manufacturing for the mining industry, in niche manufacturing and in R&D. All of these things we can compete in-in tourism, in agriculture and in mining. We can compete in all of those industries.
The loss of BHP was a much more dramatic problem for Newcastle than the loss of Holden will be for western Melbourne and for Adelaide. Because government made sensible investments, because people did not give up hope and because we did not have the gloom and doom being preached by the Leader of the Opposition, those workers found a future and that city found a future, just as Adelaide and outer metropolitan Melbourne will find a future, and can have a future under a government which respects workers and will do the right thing by them.
The best thing we can do for the workers of this country is to ensure that taxes are low, that regulation is low and that productivity is high. That is what we are doing. Unfortunately, every single thing that we are doing to help the manufacturing workers of this country is being blocked by members opposite. Stop trying to put shackles on the workers of this country, give them a chance and back the policies of this government.
I seconded the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition and I did so because this government has been derelict in its duty to look after thousands of workers in this country. Today, the Prime Minister's response to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition as to whether he had sat down, as Prime Minister of this country, to talk to the senior management of Holden was that he had not. He did not because he, along with his front bench ministers, has shown no regard for the future of this company and the future of its workers since before the election and certainly after. The difference between what happened before the election and now is that there was a feigned interest, a feigned sincerity, for Australian workers.
In fact for four years we had the Prime Minister as the then Leader of the Opposition visit every workplace in the country that he could possibly find to stand next to Australian workers or, indeed, stand in front of them and use them as a prop, as he said that he was concerned for their jobs. Well, what we have seen since this government was elected is, time and time again, a government that is totally disengaged, or worse, a government, through the auspices of the Treasurer, that is willing to goad a company to leave this country. That is what we saw on Tuesday. On Tuesday, before any decision was made by Holden to leave this country, we had the Treasurer stand up in this place and dare that company to leave. Well, Joe, you got your way. The company is leaving this country, and that is a dreadful shame.
In the last two weeks what we have seen are, indeed, some very terrible decisions that will impact on Australian workers. Two weeks ago Rio Tinto made a decision that will, of course, affect up to 1,200 jobs in Gove by closing down alumina production in Gove, which will obliterate, socially and economically, Nhulunbuy. Last week Qantas announced a 1,000-job reduction; and, of course, yesterday Holden made its decision, which will have the direct impact of 2,900 workers losing their jobs in this country. But there is more to come as a result of Holden's decision. What the government has to understand is that, when a company as large as Holden leaves our shores, there are terrible consequences which go beyond the company's direct employees. Small and medium enterprises and the components industry, which need larger companies through which to create demand, are also in the firing line. So because the government-through the Treasurer-dared Holden to leave, this decision has been made by Holden.
This is a very important debate, and I think it is time we heard from the industry minister. The Minister for Industry has been prevented by this government from saying what really happened with Holden in the last few weeks. We want the industry minister to tell us what actions, if any, were taken by this government before Holden made its decision to leave the country. To date, the industry minister has been silenced. The Prime Minister, most likely the Treasurer, and, indeed, the Minister for Education wanted to enter this debate. But we need to hear from the industry minister. Clearly he has shown at least some sympathy for Holden and its workers. Unfortunately, it is clear that the Minister for Industry lost the arm wrestle; the Treasurer clearly prevailed. But it was not just the Treasurer's work; we should not give Joe all the credit. Clearly new ministers in this government have been leaking to the media that they had no interest in providing further support to Holden before the decision was made. This information was coming out before the decision was made.
Imagine this: you are Mr Devereux-who was responsible for Holden's decision and who was involved in discussions with Holden in Detroit-and you have just fronted the Productivity Commission and seen the Treasurer stand in the chamber and effectively dare the company to leave the country. But the company expected the government to co-invest in the company. The company would have hoped that, instead of ripping $500 million out of co-investment in the automotive sector, the government would have sat down with the company and worked out a way to ensure that not only would the company stay in this country but also that 2,900 people and their families would not be hit by as awful a decision as was made yesterday.
This Prime Minister must be censured because he has shown a total and callous disregard for workers in the automotive industry and because, unfortunately, there are potential adverse consequences for other workers in small and medium enterprises. The government talks about being the government for small business. But how many small businesses do you think will be affected adversely as a result of Holden's leaving the country? Hundreds or thousands of companies will be adversely affected, and the government does nothing. This is a government which has revealed itself as never putting workers or jobs first. This is a government that, when it comes to doing the work rather than just spinning out some lines, is not there to engage genuinely and comprehensively with companies-whether they be Holden or any other company.
Today the Prime Minister has feigned all sorts of sincerity. Today he is saying to this House that he is concerned about the workers. But it is a bit late now, Tony-it is a bit late now to be concerned for Holden workers after the decision has been made.
Order! The member will refer to members by their correct names.
Indeed, Madam Speaker. The fact is that the government has made an assault on manufacturing industry-and the automotive industry in particular. This government has made an assault on the car industry. What the government needs to do is to work out what it is going to do to provide support for the workers who have lost their jobs. What intensive, tailored support will the government give the workers who will lose their jobs over the course of the next four years? How is the government going to ensure that the workers will transition into any jobs that become available? What sort of effort is the government going to put into looking after those workers?
The government has some other challenges which it must attend to immediately. One of them is making sure that what has just been done to Holden is not done to Toyota. Toyota has made it very clear that they face challenges, and they would expect, as any major company in this country would expect, that the Prime Minister and the government would sit down with them and work through the challenges to ensure that the jobs of the local workers in the company-and, indeed, the company itself-stay in this country. Do not use the way you have dealt with Holden as a template for the way you might engage with Toyota, because you get zero out of 10 as a government for your efforts today.
I finish by pointing out that the unemployment rate went up by 0.1 per cent today-and, of course, this increase happened even before the effects of the announcements which have been made in the last two weeks could be taken into account.
Mr Hockey interjecting-
The Treasurer wants to intervene. You should be ashamed of yourself. The fact that you even show your face in this place in this place is remarkable.
The member will refer to people by their correct titles.
The Treasurer should be ashamed of himself because he is as much responsible, in his goading Holden to leave our shores, as any other contributing factor in the departure of the company from Australia. That is a dreadful shame, and you will be wearing it for your entire time as Treasurer. This government must be censured-indeed, this Prime Minister must be censured-because it has shown such callous disregard and decided to fight amongst themselves instead of fighting for Australian workers.
I move as an amendment to the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition:
That all words after “That” be omitted and the following words be substituted: “this House calls on all Members to support policies that reduce taxation, cut red tape and regulation, improve productivity and create stable and consistent Government that encourages growth and investment.
Before I turn to the elements of the amendment, there are two gaping holes in the opposition's case against the government today. The first of those gaping holes is their own record on jobs in the manufacturing sector and jobs in general over the last six years. The second gaping hole is the truth about why General Motors in Detroit made this announcement today. I will get to both.
Fancy being lectured about job losses by the Leader of the Opposition, who was part of a government that secretly planned to sack 14,500 public servants. They had that planned before the election and they were going to reveal it after the election. It was not like the Leader of the Opposition just signed up to a secret arrangement to sack 14,500 workers; many more workers than whose jobs are at risk over the next four years. These 14,500 job losses were going to occur within weeks and months of the election. He went to the Commonwealth Public Sector Union conference and said to members:
… we believe that the necessary savings should not impact unduly on the overall number of APS jobs
On 16 August 2013, the day he assured the people he was speaking to that their jobs were safe, he accused the coalition of planning to cut to the bone while he knew all along that his government, if re-elected, was going to sack 14,500 workers. It is difficult to be lectured by the opposition about manufacturing jobs when we know that under them, in the 5½ years to August 2013, 160,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. Just over one in seven manufacturing jobs were lost under Labor. In fact, a manufacturing job was lost every 19 minutes under the Labor Party. That is the fact. Under the 11½ years of the previous coalition government, jobs in the manufacturing sector remained relatively stable.
Mr Stephen Jones interjecting-
The member for Throsby!
For 11½ years in a growing economy with an adult government in charge that was doing the things to encourage growth and productivity, manufacturing jobs in a similar international economic climate remained stable. The record of Labor, who are lecturing us today, stands them in very poor stead because they lost so many jobs.
Mr Husic interjecting-
The member for Chifley is warned.
The second big problem they have with their argument is there is no truth to it. They are trying to create the idea that within the last three months of the new coalition government, suddenly Holden decided that they were going to close their manufacturing in South Australia. Obviously, that is not how business works internationally or in Australia. We know that it is not true. We know this not because we have said it is not true, not because any economic commentator has said it is not true, but because General Motors themselves have said it is not true. In the statement that they released yesterday they said:
The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces …
They went on to name four different influences. None of them were the federal government, or even the state government in South Australia. Yesterday, Mike Devereux went even further on the Jon Faine program. Jon Faine said, 'Okay let us boil it down to the nitty-gritty here, why did they close? Mike Devereux replied, 'As you and I have talked on this very show before, Jon, over many, many years you get to the point where it is simply for us no longer a viable case to assemble and manufacture cars in this country.'
He is not the only General Motors spokesman who has made these kinds of statements. In fact on ABC radio today the spokesman for GMH in Detroit said, 'It is unlikely that any Australian government package would have averted the decision to close the Holden factories.' I repeat that because it is very important. Today General Motors in Detroit said on ABC radio, 'It is unlikely that any Australian government package would have averted the decision to close the Holden factories.'
Ms MacTiernan interjecting-
The member for Perth.
So General Motors has made it absolutely clear that no government package would have averted their decision. So it is intellectually utterly dishonest-
Ms MacTiernan interjecting-
The member for Perth.
Ms MacTiernan interjecting-
The member for Perth will remove herself for one hour under standing order 94(a).
The member for Perth _ then left the chamber._
It is utterly dishonest for the Labor Party to continue to propagate the myth, the untruth, the falsehood that somehow a three-month-old government has had more impact on Holden, on GMH in Detroit, than the six years of their government and the international factors of costs of production, costs of labour, the cost of the dollar and the relative cheapness of being able to build motor vehicles in other markets. But this government is not going to buy up to Labor's petty and juvenile politics on the car industry. There are families' livelihoods at risk here. Let us remember it is not as the opposition leader tried to claim today that apparently over the next 10 days before Christmas hundreds of thousands of workers would lose their jobs. Often with new opposition leaders they over-egg the omelette. In this case the member for Maribyrnong has very much done that.
Over the next four years we need to make sure that all the workers at Holden, whether they are in Victoria or in South Australia, find work in South Australia and in Victoria. The beauty of the public's decision three months ago is that they elected a government that has a plan to do just that. Over six years Labor could not save Holden, no matter how much money they gave the company. They did not save Ford; it did not matter how much money they gave the company. They did not save Mitsubishi, and their policies demonstrably damaged the South Australian economy. The only example I need to cite is the fact that BHP Billiton decided not to proceed with their expansion of Olympic Dam.
One of the reasons they did so was that bad government policy constantly changed. That created sovereign risk in Australia and that caused them to look elsewhere because of the uncertainty and instability created by very bad government policies. We will address that issue. We will create an environment in Australia for more jobs to be created, just as we did under the Howard-Costello government for 11½ years. We will create that environment, by reducing taxes such as the carbon tax; the fringe benefits tax changes the Labor Party proposed; and the minerals resource rent tax. We will create jobs by taking away red tape and regulation, which we are already doing in the tertiary education sector and right across the business sector, and as the Minister for the Environment is doing with one-stop-shops for development and environmental approvals across Australia. We will do so by building the infrastructure in Australia that makes transport cheaper in this country, by building ports, railways and roads that actually ensure that we get our goods to market faster and cheaper and at a cost to the consumer and the exporter that makes their markets grow. Infrastructure will be very important to productivity. We have made it very clear that we want to be a government that builds infrastructure and improves productivity.
But, most of all, we will take away the incredible and extraordinary uncertainty that Labor created around government policy. So many foreign businesses had to rethink their investment in Australia and Australian businesses had to rethink their investment in their own country.
I well remember the former Treasurer talking about trillions of dollars, billions of dollars of pipeline investment coming down in Australia. As the months progressed, the number would drop and drop and drop, as one after another entity announced they were not going ahead with their investments. Olympic Dam was just one of those. We expect that, through certainty of government, stability of government decision making and true cabinet processes that give business certainty, we will create the environment that will ensure that foreign investment is encouraged and welcomed in this country and that domestic corporations make their investments here in Australia rather than companies like BHP Billiton weighing up Canada, Chile and Australia and deciding that Australia was too big a sovereign risk.
Mr Danby interjecting-
Order! The member for Melbourne Ports is not in his seat and is not entitled to interject.
. I am proud to be part of a government that will create that environment.
Obviously, I rise to oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the House. This is a government whose character is being revealed by its foreign investment decisions. It is a government led by a man who combines the economic policies of Malcolm Fraser, the politics of Richard Nixon and the economic xenophobia of BA Santamaria. That is its character. Its first approach is to do nothing; its second approach is to divide the community and to blame people; and the last approach is to demonise foreign investors, albeit for different reasons in different circumstances.
We saw this with GrainCorp and we have seen it with Holden. This will cost Australians jobs and it will cost Australians investment. This decision is no surprise because, on Thursday, 13 June this year the Adelaide _A__ dvertiser_ reported 'Libs reject Holden support ultimatum-no more car cash'. That was the headline in the Adelaide Advertiser. This government's policies were no surprise to GM in Detroit-no surprise at all. We were all waiting with bated breath on the election and on whether or not the Abbott government would actually undertake this $500 million cut. It was flagged to Detroit. They knew the nature of this government. But what we did not count on was the Minister for Industry, who is nowhere to be seen in this debate or in this parliament, who stormed out last night with the Treasurer but is not participating in this debate.
The Abbott government came to power on 3 October this year. The ABC headline was: 'New Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane tours Holden plant and seeks patience from Detroit over federal assistance'. That was to buy time so they could have another cabinet debate, another bit of division in the cabinet. During the first debate the Treasurer lost out to the member for New England. He got done over by the member for New England. We know he had to win this one. He had to triumph over the industry minister, the member for Groom, at the cost of thousands of jobs. Fifty thousand jobs is the price of this Treasurer's bravado.
After this long period of silence where they asked the nation for patience, where they asked GM in Detroit for patience, where they asked car workers for their patience, what do we have? The government's industry policy descends to a one-page letter. Can you imagine the governments of Germany, the US, South Korea or Japan behaving in such a way, issuing letters to their major companies? Can you imagine that? Can you imagine those nations' treasurers, standing at the dispatch box goading and hectoring a company to leave the country-goading and hectoring a company about their foreign investment decisions? What was Detroit supposed to make of all this?
It is hardly laying out the welcome mat for foreign investment, is it, as we saw with GrainCorp? No wonder you can hear boardrooms around the country drawing breath as they think, 'They promised a government of adults and what we've got is a bunch of erratic 15-year-old children.' That is what we have got. They are as fickle as a teenage girl. That is the truth of it.
Order! The member for Wakefield will resume his seat. I find that remark totally offensive and you will withdraw it forthwith.
Madam Speaker, I withdraw.
And apologise as well.
I withdraw, Madam Speaker, and I apologise to all the teenage girls offended who are listening to this debate.
I think the member for Wakefield should withdraw not only his initial comment, but his reiteration of his initial comment in the second instance.
I absolutely agree.
I withdraw, Madam Speaker. What we have is a government whose policy is-and this is the headline in the_ Sydney Morning Herald: 'Taunts and text brought about company's exit'. That is the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald_. Didn't read it today, Joe? Didn't get time? This is a government-
The member will refer to people by their correct names.
I was referring to the member for North Sydney. This is a government whose Prime Minister's policy was to have no meetings with Holden. He had no meetings with Holden and he also refused to meet with component workers who came up to this House-citizens and workers-and asked to meet with the Prime Minister about their jobs and 50,000 other jobs across the country. They asked to meet with him and what did they get? They did not get a meeting, just as Holden did not get a meeting.
That is an extraordinary industry policy to have. I can tell you who pays the price of all this. It is Mr Murray Akehurst, who I talked about yesterday. He is a 50-year-old auto assembler at Holden, who has worked at the plant for 16 years. He is one of many. One of them emailed me today. I will not reveal his last name but his first name is Martin. He said:
From myself and my family I would like to thank you and the Labor team for your hard work to help trying to keep the automotive industry going. It has been a very hard road recently, and there will be rocky roads ahead.
What I tell Martin is that the Labor Party and I will be there for that rocky road, which has been created as a policy choice by this government. Make no mistake about it. People in my electorate and around the country are going to be paying the price for this government's investment decisions. It is not just Labor who is disappointed. It is not just people in my electorate who are disappointed. It is not just Toyota and component companies who are disappointed. It is Minister Hodgett, who said to Sky News:
My message to federal colleagues is any speculation on the future of Holden is not helpful. It's disappointing.
So the Victorian industry minister is disappointed with the federal government, because he knows as we know the economic damage that is being done to this country in terms of jobs and investment.
This is a government not of adults but of erratic children who are playing politics with people's lives. Rather than rolling out the welcome map for foreign investment and rather than engaging, they withdrew and then they demonised. It is costing jobs in the Australian economy.
This government is taking on the character of its Prime Minister, a character of doing nothing. That is the first instinct in all his decisions: to do nothing. Then, when they have to make a decision we see the division rolling out. We have seen that in the last 24 hours with the demonising of workers at this plant. These are workers who during the global financial crisis worked one week on and one week off-one week with pay and one week without pay. Many of them gave up their afternoon shift penalty rates to go onto the day shift. They made sacrifices to keep this factory going. When they were asked to stump up costs, what did they do? They gave up those costs. But they are demonised for their efforts in trying to save this company.
Finally, what do we see on display from this government: the economic xenophobia of BA Santamaria. That is where this government is revealed-the economic xenophobia of the member for New England and of the member for Warringah. To try to fight this we have a Treasurer who, to prove that he had policy grunt, sacrificed 50,000 jobs and an iconic brand. It is just not good enough.
Enough of the hypocrisy. It is rather ironic that today Paul Keating was in the building addressing the caucus.
You are no Paul Keating.
I am no Paul Keating. I can assure you I am no Paul Keating. I say that emphatically because at the same time that the Labor Party was placing Paul Keating on a pedestal today, I was reminded of Paul Keating's comments in the_ Sun Herald_ of 1991. The article said:
Taxpayers are paying $1.6 billion a year, or $4,000 a car, to keep the car industry afloat. Treasurer Paul Keating has described this level of protection as a disgrace.
It was $4,000 in 1991. Today it is $4,961 per car. It is not the same in real terms, but does Paul Keating hold that view today? Did he say that to the Labor Party caucus today? Please spare us the hypocrisy on this. Please spare us the hypocrisy about caring for workers.
Paul Keating, the man who appeared in caucus today, said in 2000:
What do I say-
to people who lost their jobs-
What is your new job like? One of the 2.5 million created since the early 1980s. People have found better jobs. I mean, did we ever hurt anybody liberating them from the car assembly line?
That was said by Paul Keating, who appeared in the caucus today. He said, 'Of course we did not'. The way people talk about this free trade and fair trade, as if the economy is static and not dynamic, and a job lost is not a job replaced, is just bunkum-that is Paul Keating.
So today, when Paul Keating is in caucus and they are holding him up on a pedestal as the man who delivered economic reform, they come into this place and rail against the failure of the government to massively increase the amount of subsidy for car production in Australia and they say there is something wrong with change in the auto industry.
But let us deal with the facts, because the facts need to be stated. In 2000, 44 per cent of the cars sold in Australia were Australian made. In 2005, that fell to 30 per cent. In 2010, that fell to 19 per cent. There has been a transformation. In 2007-08, when the Labor Party was elected to government, they commissioned Steve Bracks to look at the entire car industry. In February 2008, Mitsubishi closed their operations in Adelaide under Labor. Did we cry about that? No. But I will tell you who celebrated that.
You should be hiding in your office.
Listen to this, Sunshine. I know that you are on your L-plates, but listen. Lindsay Tanner, the former finance minister, said this in March 2008, one month after Mitsubishi closed:
The Rudd government is committed to upholding the tradition of reform established in the Hawke-Keating era. We have resisted the temptation to bailout Mitsubishi.
That was Lindsay Tanner, the Labor finance minister, one month after Mitsubishi closed their doors under Labor. Save us the hypocrisy.
You haven't talked about Holden.
The member for Adelaide will desist.
When the Labor Party committed $573 million to the automotive sector in 2008-09, Ford announced 350 redundancies. And Labor responded and committed $6.2 billion in a 13-year long plan to create environmentally friendly cars. Then in 2010 they came up with a new policy; a new plan: Cash for Clunkers. We remember that. People could get grants for $2,000 to scrap their pre-1995 motor vehicles. But at the same time that they were announcing putting in more money, our share of global production of cars had halved since the year 2000. The Australian motor vehicle industry is selling fewer cars in Australia and is exporting fewer cars-half the percentage of global production of what it was a few years earlier. But Labor committed more money.
Say the word 'Holden'.
The member for Adelaide is warned!
In August 2010, they announced Cash for Clunkers. Just a few months later in January 2011 they announced the abolition of Cash for Clunkers-the abolition of something announced earlier. What is more, the Labor Party then announced that they were closing the Green Car Innovation Fund that Steve Bracks announced, saving $861 million
Can you say the word 'Holden'?
Does the member for Adelaide wish to leave under 94(a)?
Hang on: Labor announced Cash for Clunkers and then withdrew it, they announced that they were putting money into a Green Car Innovation Fund and then they closed that and then they announced the closure of the LPG vehicle scheme. That is $1.4 billion of promises to the motor vehicle industry, and then the Labor Party pulled the rug out from under them.
What was the reaction of Mike Devereux? Listen to what he said in June 2011:
We cut a deal with the prime minister of the country in the Lodge back in ’08, showed our business plan, as did Ford, as did Toyota, made investments and then midway through ... the rules of the game changed.
Listen to this-Mike Devereaux, the head of Holden, said:
So it certainly worries a multinational parent-
when sovereign risk begins to be something that is bandied about in terms of doing business with Australia.
That was in June 2011 when the head of Holden was warning that the Labor government was creating sovereign risk here in Australia for General Motors. But wait: there is more.
Ms Kate Ellis interjecting-
The member for Adelaide will remove herself under 94(a).
In January 2012, the Julia Gillard went down to Ford and pledged $34 million. She said:
As a result of us making $34 million available to join with Ford in new investment to keep car manufacturing here, we’ll actually see the number of jobs grow. There will be an additional 300 jobs as a result.
So, 300 jobs when they put in an extra $34 million. Six months later, Ford sacked 400 people. That is a 700-person turnaround after Julia Gillard went down there and gave them and extra $34 million. But there is more.
In March 2012, Julia Gillard went to Holden and announced an extra $215 million. Listen to what the Labor Prime Minister at the time said:
Holden will be here in Australia producing cars for at least the next 10 years. That's great news. … So this is a great day for Australian car-making, to be able to announce that Holden will be here for the next decade and we've been able to secure that by working together.
Seven months later, Holden sacks 180 people at the Elizabeth plant and a few months after that Holden announces a further 500 sackings.
Your guilt is burning you: 50,000 people have lost their jobs because of you.
The member for Chifley will remove himself under 94(a).
Hang on: the Labor Party kept giving them more money and announcing job security and then months later Holden would sack workers and Ford would sacks workers.
Then along came the carbon tax. Listen to what Mike Devereux had to say on the carbon tax:
There is no question that a tax on electricity, in making it more expensive in input costs, makes it more difficult for me to make money building cars.
That is what Mike Devereux, the head of General Motors Holden, said about the carbon tax. He said, 'It makes it more difficult for me to make money building cars.' Holden then announced 500 redundancies.
They have gone under on your watch.
The member for McMahon was the most incompetent L-plated Treasurer in Australian history. We thought that John Kerin walking into a cupboard was incompetent. The member for McMahon was only in for 84 days but, wow, what an 84 days. He announced a $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax that saw car sales plummet. We got rid of it.
I did not lose Holden; you lost Holden.
The member for McMahon will desist!
Let me tell you the real reason why Holden went: it was a perfect storm. That is what they said at General Motors Detroit. When I heard that term 'perfect storm', I knew that I had heard it somewhere else. Kim Carr in 2013 in his book said this: 'In many ways, the automotive industry was already weathering a perfect storm.' Kim Carr was talking about a perfect storm months before the General Motors announcement the other day. Stop the hypocrisy, Labor. You are looking really foolish.
The question is that the amendment be agreed to.
The question now is that the motion as amended be agreed to.
Question agreed to.
Votes Passed by a small majority
Nobody rebelled against their party.
|Adam Bandt Melbourne Australian Greens||No|
|Australian Labor Party (87% turnout)||0 Yes – 47 No|
|Anthony Albanese Grayndler||No|
|Sharon Bird Cunningham||No|
|Chris Bowen McMahon||No|
|Gai Brodtmann Canberra||No|
|Tony Burke Watson||No|
|Mark Butler Port Adelaide||No|
|Anthony Byrne Holt||No|
|Jim Chalmers Rankin||No|
|Nick Champion Wakefield||No|
|Lisa Chesters Bendigo||No|
|Jason Clare Blaxland||No|
|Sharon Claydon Newcastle||No|
|Pat Conroy Charlton||No|
|Michael Danby Melbourne Ports||No|
|Mark Dreyfus Isaacs||No|
|Justine Elliot Richmond||No|
|David Feeney Batman||No|
|Laurie Ferguson Werriwa||No|
|Joel Fitzgibbon Hunter||No|
|Andrew Giles Scullin||No|
|Gary Gray Brand||No|
|Alan Griffin Bruce||No|
|Jill Hall Shortland||No|
|Chris Hayes Fowler||No|
|Stephen Jones Throsby||No|
|Catherine King Ballarat||No|
|Andrew Leigh Fraser||No|
|Jenny Macklin Jagajaga||No|
|Richard Marles Corio||No|
|Rob Mitchell McEwen||No|
|Shayne Neumann Blair||No|
|Brendan O'Connor Gorton||No|
|Clare O'Neil Hotham||No|
|Julie Owens Parramatta||No|
|Melissa Parke Fremantle||No|
|Graham Perrett Moreton||No|
|Tanya Plibersek Sydney||No|
|Bernie Ripoll Oxley||No|
|Amanda Rishworth Kingston||No|
|Michelle Rowland Greenway||No|
|Joanne Ryan Lalor||No|
|Bill Shorten Maribyrnong||No|
|Warren Snowdon Lingiari||No|
|Matt Thistlethwaite Kingsford Smith||No|
|Kelvin Thomson Wills||No|
|Maria Vamvakinou Calwell||No|
|Tony Zappia Makin||No|
|Anna Burke Chisholm||Absent|
|Julie Collins Franklin||Absent|
|Kate Ellis Adelaide||Absent|
|Ed Husic Chifley||Absent|
|Alannah Mactiernan Perth||Absent|
|Wayne Swan Lilley||Absent|
|Tim Watts Gellibrand||Absent|
|Natasha Griggs Solomon Country Liberal Party||Yes|
|Bruce Scott Maranoa Deputy Speaker||Yes|
|Cathy McGowan Indi Independent||Yes|
|Andrew Wilkie Denison Independent||Absent|
|Bob Katter Kennedy Katter's Australian Party||Absent|
|Liberal Party (92% turnout)||67 Yes – 0 No|
|Tony Abbott Warringah||Yes|
|John Alexander Bennelong||Yes|
|Karen Andrews McPherson||Yes|
|Kevin Andrews Menzies||Yes|
|Bob Baldwin Paterson||Yes|
|Bruce Billson Dunkley||Yes|
|Julie Bishop Curtin||Yes|
|Jamie Briggs Mayo||Yes|
|Russell Broadbent McMillan||Yes|
|Mal Brough Fisher||Yes|
|Scott Buchholz Wright||Yes|
|Steven Ciobo Moncrieff||Yes|
|David Coleman Banks||Yes|
|Warren Entsch Leichhardt||Yes|
|Paul Fletcher Bradfield||Yes|
|Josh Frydenberg Kooyong||Yes|
|Teresa Gambaro Brisbane||Yes|
|Ian Goodenough Moore||Yes|
|Alex Hawke Mitchell||Yes|
|Sarah Henderson Corangamite||Yes|
|Peter Hendy Eden-Monaro||Yes|
|Joe Hockey North Sydney||Yes|
|Luke Howarth Petrie||Yes|
|Eric Hutchinson Lyons||Yes|
|Steve Irons Swan||Yes|
|Dennis Jensen Tangney||Yes|
|Ewen Jones Herbert||Yes|
|Michael Keenan Stirling||Yes|
|Craig Kelly Hughes||Yes|
|Craig Laundy Reid||Yes|
|Sussan Ley Farrer||Yes|
|Ian Macfarlane Groom||Yes|
|Nola Marino Forrest||Yes|
|Louise Markus Macquarie||Yes|
|Russell Matheson Macarthur||Yes|
|Karen McNamara Dobell||Yes|
|Scott Morrison Cook||Yes|
|Andrew Nikolic Bass||Yes|
|Tony Pasin Barker||Yes|
|Christian Porter Pearce||Yes|
|Melissa Price Durack||Yes|
|Christopher Pyne Sturt||Yes|
|Rowan Ramsey Grey||Yes|
|Don Randall Canning||Yes|
|Andrew Robb Goldstein||Yes|
|Stuart Robert Fadden||Yes|
|Wyatt Roy Longman||Yes|
|Philip Ruddock Berowra||Yes|
|Fiona Scott Lindsay||Yes|
|Luke Simpkins Cowan||Yes|
|Tony Smith Casey||Yes|
|Andrew Southcott Boothby||Yes|
|Sharman Stone Murray||Yes|
|Ann Sudmalis Gilmore||Yes|
|Michael Sukkar Deakin||Yes|
|Angus Taylor Hume||Yes|
|Dan Tehan Wannon||Yes|
|Alan Tudge Aston||Yes|
|Bert Van Manen Forde||Yes|
|Nickolas Varvaris Barton||Yes|
|Ross Vasta Bonner||Yes|
|Brett Whiteley Braddon||Yes|
|Lucy Wicks Robertson||Yes|
|Matt Williams Hindmarsh||Yes|
|Rick Wilson O'Connor||Yes|
|Jason Wood La Trobe||Yes|
|Ken Wyatt Hasluck||Yes|
|Peter Dutton Dickson||Absent|
|Greg Hunt Flinders||Absent|
|Andrew Laming Bowman||Absent|
|Kelly O'Dwyer Higgins||Absent|
|Jane Prentice Ryan||Absent|
|Malcolm Turnbull Wentworth||Absent|
|National Party (100% turnout)||14 Yes – 0 No|
|Andrew Broad Mallee||Yes|
|Darren Chester Gippsland||Yes|
|George Christensen Dawson||Yes|
|John Cobb Calare||Yes|
|Mark Coulton Parkes||Yes|
|David Gillespie Lyne||Yes|
|Luke Hartsuyker Cowper||Yes|
|Kevin Hogan Page||Yes|
|Barnaby Joyce New England||Yes|
|Michelle Landry Capricornia||Yes|
|Michael McCormack Riverina||Yes|
|Ken O'Dowd Flynn||Yes|
|Keith Pitt Hinkler||Yes|
|Warren Truss Wide Bay||Yes|
|Clive Palmer Fairfax Palmer United Party||Absent|
|Bronwyn Bishop Mackellar Speaker||Absent|
|Totals (89% turnout)||84 Yes – 48 No|
Turnout is the percentage of members eligible to vote that did vote.