Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I will start by making seven points directly in relation to the contribution we heard from Mr Drum. Firstly, I have made very supportive comments about various companies in Geelong, and I have specifically mentioned Cotton On. I can recall that I said that these are exactly the types of companies we need in our region, and we are absolutely thankful and grateful for those organisations that exist in the great city of Geelong.
Mr Drum interjected.
My second point is in relation to what Mr Drum keeps on saying in terms of the carbon tax, and I am sure we will hear the same thing from others on the government benches today.
I simply say to them that they need to watch Q&A, which was on ABC television on Monday night. On the panel were representatives from Aussie home loans, Santos Ltd and a number of other organisations. In fact the executive chairman of Aussie home loans said that he supported carbon pricing, and indeed the representative from Santos said that his company is fine with carbon pricing because it just factors it into its business planning. So to keep having this smokescreen that is relied upon by government members as a reason they do not get in there, roll up their sleeves and do something about all the massive job losses we are seeing in this state beggars belief.
Then on Friday morning we had the announcement of the Avalon job cuts. The new federal member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson, jumped on the radio with Jon Faine and tried to use the carbon tax as a reason for the job losses in Geelong.
To be quite frank, Jon Faine had to take her to task and tell her that that is not the case and that that certainly was not the position of Mike Devereux, who until very recently was the managing director of Holden in this state. This bother about the carbon tax continues to be a furphy. As I said, it is used as a smokescreen by those opposite to enable them to do very little when it comes to the real work that needs to be done in this state in terms of protecting manufacturing jobs and advancing and creating new manufacturing jobs.
The third point I want to make is that Mr Drum asserted Labor is interested in just tossing more money at the automotive industry. That is simply not the case. It was Labor that created the innovation fund. It ensured that companies in this country, before they came knocking on any government doors, had to prove that they were innovative, sustainable and something different — that they were not just same old, same old.
It was also Labor that brought coinvestment to this country in terms of dealing with manufacturing, and particularly car manufacturing. It is not a matter of Labor supporting cap-in-hand requests for more money. Labor is not about that; that is not sustainable, and it is not the right thing to do in terms of the taxpayer, let alone those who work in the industry.
Mr Drum also said the vehicle industry in this country is basically not competitive because wages are too high. I cannot remember the last time a vehicle worker in this state took home a full week’s wage, because they have had down time week after week. They have also had to be very inventive when it comes to enterprise bargaining agreements as well as informal arrangements in response to what has happened with the market. Leave arrangements have also been incredibly flexible, and as I have said people who work in the industry have gone out of their way and made sacrifices to make sure that their jobs and their industry stay in this state and this country.
Government members should not say that wages are too high and we are therefore not competitive; people have been busting their backsides for years to make sure that we have a manufacturing industry in this state and this country.
The other thing Mr Drum claimed was that Labor did not have a manufacturing minister. The fact of the matter is that when I was in the vehicle industry we had no problems whatsoever contacting the minister, whether it was the employer, the employees or the unions making contact with the responsible minister. That was equally the case when the minister responsible for manufacturing was Mr Haermeyer, when it was Mr Holding and when it was Mr Theophanous. They were accessible, they were engaged and they were not waiting around for pieces of paper. Rest assured, not only did they have their sleeves rolled up but they also made significant contributions in the house and in the media advocating for the vehicle industry and manufacturing generally.
That is unlike the current Minister for Manufacturing, who last time I checked Hansard had mentioned manufacturing three times. Government members should not come into this chamber pointing the finger at Labor; Labor has been engaged, but the government unfortunately has picked a manufacturing minister who simply is not up to it.
When Labor members stand up and talk about the vehicle industry, the last thing we want to do is be accused of talking the industry down. The only reason we get up and say these sorts of things is that we are so frustrated. We feel we simply have to shake government members to make them realise the situation. Mr Drum said the vehicle industry is precarious. The reality is that it has gone beyond precarious; it is in crisis. Ford has already made the announcement to close. That leaves us with two manufacturers. Holden is dodgy, and the business reality is that if Toyota is the only remaining manufacturer, it will find it incredibly difficult.
We know there needs to be critical mass in terms of the component supply chain; that is just the way the industry is structured, not just here but in the United States, Canada, Japan, China and everywhere else. You have first, second, third, fourth and fifth-tier suppliers, and when you reduce your industry to one or even two manufacturers things get very rocky. That is also what the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is saying. It is not just Labor saying this; it is the organisation that speaks on behalf of the vehicle industry.
It is really concerning that there is a situation here in Victoria and South Australia that, if not dealt with quickly, will lead to serious problems both in the other industries that are connected with vehicle manufacturing and in terms of high unemployment levels, which may reach such a point that they cannot be arrested.
Getting back to my contribution, as opposed to the assertions Mr Drum made earlier, we have a situation where our automotive industry is at a crossroads and its future is on very shaky grounds. It is important that we rely on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries report because it provides us with the most recent overview of the industry. The report states that Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be $7.3 billion smaller by 2018 if local automotive manufacturing is allowed to slip through the cracks of indecision by government. The automotive industry provides research and development benefits for the entire economy.
It has extensive links with other sectors, be it heavy engineering, marine or aerospace.
The automotive industry put its money where its mouth is, spending $693 million on research and development in 2011-12. Its value-added benefit was $5.4 billion in 2011-12, which is 5.3 per cent of industry value-added benefit for the entire manufacturing industry. The automotive industry is also a major player in training young people who later go on to work in a whole range of other sectors such as mining. The Australian economy will be all the better if the skills of younger as well as older people are developed and maintained. Without the automotive manufacturing arm, these skills will simply be lost.
The automotive industry is a major export industry. The value of Australian automotive exports in 2012 was $3.7 billion.
Of this, $2.1 billion was comprised of motor vehicles and $1.6 billion was comprised of automotive components, ensuring that large, medium and small businesses were rewarded for their efforts. While Australia’s automotive exports are down from a record high of $5.8 billion in 2008, they still account for 13 per cent of total exports of elaborately transformed manufacturers. This is an industry that adds to the national wealth, providing between 40 000 and 50 000 direct jobs in both the large car maker and supplies sectors, with several hundred thousand more dependent on the industry’s viability.
Historically the automotive industry has absorbed waves and waves of migration. It has provided wages for newly arrived people to this country to start new lives for themselves and their families and integrate into our way of life. The automotive industry has embraced people from all backgrounds. Many people have worked in the industry from the age of 18 all the way through to their retirement. These are the facts.
By and large there is no dispute between the major political parties with respect to these basic facts.
That is why it is important for the federal coalition government to support the automotive industry and to step back from its often populist and sometimes ill-considered rhetoric of election campaigns. The federal Liberal and National parties made damning comments with respect to funding arrangements for automotive manufacturing in this country in their bid to win government. This is probably one of several policies the coalition parties wish they had not pursued with such vigour, because the reality of operating as an opposition is vastly different to decision making in government when you have responsibility for the economic health of the nation. We must not forget that 60 per cent or more of the automotive industry is based in Victoria. This is about the health of our state, which is inextricably linked to sensible decision making about the automotive industry’s future.
I would argue that the vehicle industry incites passion from all sides of politics — from the economic Luddites and the free marketeers who call for the industry’s dismantling to the more considered approaches being considered by the likes of Senator Kim Carr and the federal Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane. Both of these formidable politicians passionately believe that the automotive industry is fundamental to the health of this country. In an article published in the Age of 5 November Senator Carr states:
Victoria, as a key manufacturing state along with South Australia, will feel the ill effects of the death of the automotive industry even more acutely. Where would the thousands of Victorians employed in the automotive industry find another job? How would Victoria’s economy recover from a 1.6 per cent hit to GDP?
If General Motors Holden goes, then the likelihood is that Toyota and a good part of the 160 component manufacturers in the supply chain will follow. This is the harsh reality of an industry that operates as an ecosystem, each part dependent on the other for survival.
Supporting this industry is not a case of throwing good money after bad. Far from it. For the $2.7 billion the Labor federal government invested in this industry, we saw $26 billion in new investment. That’s a return on investment of almost 9:1, impressive in any terms.
And if you think the auto industry gets a lot more government support than other industries, you’re wrong. The federal government spends more on grain, sheep and beef than auto. More on primary production, more on mining.
The automotive industry is a major employer and a significant contributor to the national economy, but it is in crisis. Without an urgent commitment from this government, it could all be over by Christmas, and it knows it. An industry that survived the global financial crisis could disappear because of inaction by the Abbott federal government.
With respect to the proposed Productivity Commission review, Senator Carr went on to point out correctly:
There have been at least four academic studies into the contribution of the automotive industry to Australia’s economy and their findings all point in the same direction. It would cost the economy more to see the industry fail than it ever would to support it. The cost of seeing this industry fail in terms of lost tax revenue and increased social services alone would top $26 billion, not to mention the billions more lost in new investment, capacity and research and development. It would take more than 10 years for the economy to recover from the underlying hit to GDP.
Far from being a burden on taxpayers, this industry is a major contributor to our national wealth.
A telling identification of assistance measures in both the USA and Germany was also outlined in the article, where we were reminded that the US spends the equivalent of $264 per person supporting car making — 14 times more than Australia does. Germany spends $90 per person, which is five times more than Australia. Australia spends a paltry $18 per person. The reality is that there is not one car on the road anywhere in the world that is not supported by a government somewhere.
Again I would stress that Minister Macfarlane has also adopted a reasonable position in his comments. He recently stated on 9 October this year:
In the end, I’m just as enthusiastic about the car industry as the people who work in it.
He goes on to recognise that ‘the car industry is critically important’.
These are very welcome comments from a minister who is not unfamiliar with the industry, unlike the previous industry spokesperson, Sophie Mirabella. But time is of the essence, and it is uncertain if car manufacturers are able to carry their losses, which are substantial, for very much longer. The Productivity Commission is due to provide an interim report in March, which, in the current climate, could be too late.
Minister Macfarlane agrees that every other country in the world subsidises its car manufacturers, in most cases far more extensively than Australia. To his credit he has made it part of the terms of reference of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry. I understand he wants to get those facts on the table to assist the government’s decision making, but in reality this is hardly rocket science. The minister’s own department would have this information at its fingertips, as would the department of our own Victorian minister. This information is readily available.
Delays in sensible decision making are dangerous in these perilous times.
In respect of these matters I also refer to the Allen consulting group, which is hardly the cutting edge of the revolution on these matters, where it points out that both Victoria and South Australia would be devastated by the closure of the industry. To be quite frank, this is a masterful understatement of such an event. The study shows that a shutdown of the industry by 2018 would lead to a $21.5 billion hit to the economy in net present value terms. It says high-technology jobs would be lost and billions of dollars in foreign direct investment would be redirected to other countries. The study claims that 33 000 jobs would be lost in Victoria, with a 1.4 per cent fall in gross regional product by 2018, along with the loss of 6600 jobs in Adelaide and a 0.9 per cent fall in economic input. Can any of us imagine the damage a disaster of these proportions would have on our Victorian economy, let alone the human cost of such a tragedy?
We would become a wasteland of manufacturing before and if employment growth were to resume.
Do the federal Liberal-Nationals government or the Victorian government want to be the governments to preside over the dismantling of the vehicle industry in Australia? I think not. Today is an opportunity at least here in Victoria within the Council to lay before the Victorian electorate this government’s position in support of this great industry. It is an opportunity for this state Liberal-Nationals government to outline its actions to ensure its federal colleagues make the correct policy pronouncements for this country and our state, and it is an opportunity to show all Victorians that this government cares about their future and the job opportunities that come with a successful long-term manufacturing industry. Simply put: does the government support vehicle manufacturing?
Business interrupted pursuant to standing orders.
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — Before question time I was talking about the importance of supporting the vehicle industry, and I outlined many of the benefits we have in Victoria as a result of the vehicle industry currently being substantially located here. We should therefore support the industry at all times, but particularly now as we see a very long list of jobs that have been lost across a number of sectors, predominantly in manufacturing. We know of the announcement that by 2016 the Ford plant at Geelong will close; that will affect approximately 1600 people in Broadmeadows and Geelong who will be without jobs.
We have seen a similar phenomenon at the head office of Target Australia in Geelong.
Whilst the jobs there are not blue collar jobs — they are white collar jobs — many people on the redundancy list are family members of those who are Ford workers who will lose their jobs in a couple of years, or are family members of workers who have already lost their manufacturing jobs.
Of course we had the announcement last Friday of the Qantas decision to cut 350 jobs at Avalon Airport; that is also going to have a devastating impact on the local community. Recently we also saw 100 redundancies at Toyota in Altona. Although Altona is not in my electorate, I know many workers at that site live in Geelong and the surrounding areas. Those job losses are on top of the 350 sackings that took place about 18 months ago in that company, which I must say were very bitter sackings at the time. As recently as this week there have been the arguments before the Fair Work Commission with respect to Holden and its closure of the product development track at Lang Lang, along with various other facilities.
There are also perilous question marks over the continued operation of Alcoa at Point Henry. There is a ‘For sale’ sign up at Shell, so we really do not know at this point in time what will be happening there. We have also seen jobs go in Ararat from AME Systems, which is a supplier to car companies. Victoria Carpets at Castlemaine has closed, with 21 employees losing their jobs.
Just after question time I was furnished with answers to questions I asked of the Assistant Treasurer in relation to jobs that were cut at IBM in Ballarat, with 30 jobs lost there. There were further losses at the Ballarat Rivers site — another 25 redundancies — as well as at Warrnambool, where the warehouse sales and electrical discount sales departments saw a number of job losses.
On several occasions over the last few months, the front page of the Ballarat Courier has outlined the hammering that manufacturing has had in Ballarat and the surrounding region.
If there were ever a time that we as decision-makers needed to ensure that there were jobs in this state, now is that time. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of the job losses in my electorate. No doubt very shortly there will be another motion moved in relation to manufacturing to try to get an answer out of this government about its intent and what its job plan is so that the growing queues of the unemployed can be stemmed. I am not saying it is an easy task, but so far this government has not given any indication that it is interested or is even flexing brain or arm muscle with respect to carving out a road for those who are essentially being left behind.
To put it simply Labor is saying to the state government: do you support vehicle manufacturing or do you support the human misery that will be created through its closure? It is vital that this Parliament send the right message to Canberra. It is essential that this house act in a bipartisan matter on something so fundamental to the future of our state. I therefore call upon all members of this chamber to vote in favour of Mr Somyurek’s motion and to do so with vigour.
Once they vote, members should not just walk out of this chamber and forget about the hundreds of thousands of people who are losing their jobs — both blue and white collar — in the manufacturing sector; they must ensure that there is real drive and movement to come up with a jobs plan to support the vehicle industry in this state and that every single member of the Liberal-Nationals federal caucus is well acquainted with the fact that the Napthine government overwhelmingly supports the ongoing existence and vitality of the vehicle industry in this state.
Mr ONDARCHIE (Northern Metropolitan) — I rise to speak on Mr Somyurek’s motion 666. Does anybody else find it ironic that Mr Somyurek’s motion is numbered 666? This motion asks that the federal government coinvest in the automotive industry, yet not one speaker from the Labor Party has explained to this house what they mean by ‘coinvestment’; they have not once explained it.
Tragically those who read speeches provided by the vehicle builders union did not even take the opportunity today to talk about — —
Ms Tierney — On a point of order, Acting President, that is clearly a reflection on me; it makes a lie of the speech that I delivered for the member to say that it was written by the vehicle builders union. It was not; I wrote it.
Mrs Peulich — On a point of order, Acting President, this is a point of debate. It is certainly not a point of order, and it ought to be dismissed.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) — Order! It seems to me more like debating a point of order.
Mr ONDARCHIE — I made no reference to anyone in particular in this house.
Those who feel guilty should jump to their feet — —
Ms Tierney interjected.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) — Order! I have already ruled on the point of order. Mr Ondarchie, to continue.
Mrs Peulich — On a point of order, President, in her interjection Ms Tierney reflected on Mr Ondarchie by inferring that he is a bully. I find that offensive. Words like that should not be used, and I ask that the member apologise and withdraw.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) — Order! That is not a point of order.
Mr ONDARCHIE — It is interesting how excited people get very early in the piece; I was only 30 seconds into my contribution and already they are getting excited. I will put some things on the record that cannot be disputed. The previous speaker said, ‘Holden is dodgy’. Feel free to check Hansard. The words were, ‘Holden is dodgy’. I do not think Holden employees at Elizabeth and Port Melbourne would feel very comfortable about a member of this house saying their organisation is dodgy.
Ms Tierney also mentioned some form of market appreciation and talked about first, second, third, fourth and fifth-tier suppliers but forgot about the aftermarket, which is a critical part of the automotive industry. Ms Tierney talked about the inaction of the Abbott government. Correct me if I am wrong, but was the Abbott government not sworn in only yesterday in Canberra? Ms Tierney talked about the Abbott government but failed to talk about the Rudd, Gillard and Rudd governments.
Interestingly enough the final message from Ms Tierney was that it is important for us to get together to send a message to Canberra. But where were those opposite on the carbon tax? We called upon them to join with us to send a message to the then federal Labor government about the carbon tax.
You could have cued the sound of crickets: there was absolute silence from those who now come in here purporting to represent working families, those working in the automotive industry and those organisations and trade unions that are aligned to them. Those opposite did not support our call to get rid of the carbon tax under the Rudd, Gillard and Rudd governments; there was absolute silence.
Incredibly, though, members opposite come in here today and say to us, ‘Let’s get together and send a message to the one-day-old government in Canberra’. Where were they last time? Where have they been? Where was the Setka party on this earlier?
The government is not going to oppose Mr Somyurek’s motion because it believes in the strength of the automotive industry. We know the local car industry is facing significant challenges due to the decline in local production volumes.
Like the rest of the manufacturing sector, the very high rate of the Australian dollar and intense global competition have an impact on business.
Notwithstanding all that, the Australian and Victorian economies derive great benefit from our automotive industry, and we know it contributes significantly to both economies. For example, the automotive industry employs around 50 000 people Australia wide — half of those in Victoria — and spends around $700 million on research. Seventy five per cent of that is spent in the great state of Victoria.
The Napthine government has assisted Victorian automotive businesses to strengthen their capabilities, improve their efficiencies, become more productive and access new global markets.
We have also assisted them by providing access to local opportunities across the globe throughout our Victorian-led trade missions to Korea, Japan, the Middle East and more recently the United States and India.
We on this side of the house will not talk down the Victorian automotive industry; we will support the Victorian automotive industry and Victorian workers. The Abbott government recently announced the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the automotive industry. The government looks forward to contributing to that inquiry because it knows the automotive sector is very important to the Victorian economy.
In Altona, which is in Mr Finn and Mr Elsbury’s electorate of Western Metropolitan Region, Toyota has been a market leader in vehicle sales across Australia for many years, accounting for almost 20 per cent of total sales in 2012.
Toyota produces over 100 000 vehicles at its Altona facility, including the Camry, Hybrid Camry and Orion models, all of which can be seen in the parliamentary car park. Toyota currently exports around 70 per cent of its production from the Altona plant to the Middle East and recently announced — and we congratulate it on this — that it has exported its millionth Camry.
Holden — which I do not think is dodgy — makes over 70 000 vehicles per year here and retains its world-class design and engineering facilities and capabilities at Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne. This enables Holden to compete for design engineering work within the General Motors Holden group across the globe. Holden employs 1400 people in Victoria, 320 of whom are based at the engine plant site in Port Melbourne.
The Ford Motor Company has all of its major operations located in Victoria and currently employs around 2750 people — about 750 at Broadmeadows in my electorate and around 1000 in Geelong and Lara. One-third of Ford’s vehicles are built locally: the Falcon and the Territory. I drive a Territory, Acting President, and I am pleased to announce that I have just ordered a replacement Territory. They are a great motor vehicle.
Members would no doubt be aware that on 23 May 2013 Ford announced plans to cease its manufacturing operations in Australia from October 2016. Ford advised the government that the decision to cease manufacturing follows difficulty competing with automotive manufacturing in Europe and Asia, where manufacturing costs are, respectively, two and four times below those of Australia. However, Ford remains absolutely committed to its research and development work in Australia, and its design and engineering centre employs about 1100 people.
The Napthine coalition government is also investing in supporting businesses and workers in the automotive supply chain by combining with the commonwealth government to provide an additional $12 million for the Automotive New Markets program, bringing total funding for this program to $42 million. That is a serious commitment. The Automotive New Markets program was created to assist businesses to diversify into new markets and products. The coalition government will continue to support sustainable automotive manufacturing in this state.
Mr Somyurek talked about the automotive industry. He talked about the three car makers that are members of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. He talked about the component manufacturers that are connected to the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers.
But he failed to mention the other important part of the automotive industry — that is, the automotive aftermarket. It is a major exporter and a major employer, yet Mr Somyurek failed to recognise it in his contribution today.
Mr Somyurek talked about pressures on manufacturers. There has been no greater pressure on manufacturers recently than that due to the carbon tax, which has driven up energy bills and cost Victorians jobs. Sadly, the Australian Labor Party today failed to address that. As its members call upon us to speak to the Abbott federal government about supporting the motor vehicle industry, it fails to recognise that today in federal Parliament a piece of legislation was introduced to repeal the carbon tax. The Australian Labor Party should join with us today in supporting that initiative.
In addition to those specific areas of support I talked about in automotive funds, the Victorian government’s manufacturing strategy of December 2011, A More Competitive Manufacturing Industry, sets out priorities to lift productivity and competitiveness in our manufacturing sector. Initiatives that were funded in the 2012-13 budget are now delivering benefits for Victorian manufacturers, especially small and medium enterprises. They include $24.8 million to deliver the Investing in Manufacturing Technology (IMT) program, which supports businesses to invest in new and transformative technologies that will improve business performance. Under rounds 1 and 2 of the IMT program we have awarded a total of $6.6 million in grants to 40 businesses to support investment in new technology, processes and equipment. That has resulted in the creation of new jobs, and we have also transitioned existing roles to higher value roles.
We have also invested $7.5 million in the Manufacturing Productivity Networks program. This provides flexibility to support networks to expand their activities. Under rounds 1 and 2 of this program, a total of 20 applicants have been awarded funding for business network projects. We expect to assist productivity and competitiveness for around 636 businesses.
The government recognises the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and is committed to building a sustainable and prosperous manufacturing sector by cutting the costs of doing business, promoting local manufacturing opportunities and creating more jobs. We know manufacturing is a major contributor to the Victorian economy that attracts investment and generates employment. Manufacturing currently employs about 284 000 people, or about 10 per cent of the state’s workforce, and contributes $27.2 billion, or about 8.3 per cent, of gross state product to the Victorian economy.
However, we know Victorian manufacturers face serious challenges due to the strength of the high Australian dollar, which is currently travelling in the mid 90-cent range against the US currency. Given federal Labor’s carbon tax, which members opposite could stand with us today and denounce, Labor’s inflexible workplace laws and very intense global competition, I would have to say there was no clear or coherent strategy from the previous state government to provide a supportive, productive and competitive manufacturing sector. It was silent on that. Opposition members have been big on the rhetoric today but silent on the strategy.
We came to government with a clear election commitment and a policy commitment to revitalise manufacturing. We delivered our manufacturing strategy in 2011. It was based on sound economic fundamentals and was informed by discussions with Victoria’s numerous manufacturers.
As well, we had the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission conduct a wide-scale review into state manufacturing to inform our policy development. As part of that overall strategy we invested $13.7 million in specialist manufacturing services to help manufacturers overcome market failures and barriers to entry, and raise productivity and competitiveness. We also invested $9 million in the Building Innovative Small Manufacturers initiative to provide targeted assistance for small manufacturers through specialist workshops. We have also introduced the managing transition for retrenched workers program, with $3 million to reduce the adverse impacts of retrenchments.
The Napthine coalition government is committed to a strong and successful manufacturing sector in Victoria. Today the sector remains the state’s single largest full-time employer and a significant source of both exports and investment. Times are tough for this sector. We know that; this house knows that. I am aware of the data that was released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which showed challenges in the manufacturing sector, which I spoke about earlier. The data also shows that Victoria remains the leader for manufacturing employment in Australia. Unlike those opposite, I am not going to talk down manufacturing in this state.
The Australian Industry Group recently issued its Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) for the month of September. The latest seasonally adjusted figures for performance of manufacturing improved by 5.3 points in September, rising to 51.7 points. The headline to the PMI for September reads ‘Manufacturing expands in September’.
The same report also shows expansion in our food and beverage sector, which is one of Victoria’s fastest growing export sectors, so it is not all doom and gloom.
On 1 October the Australian reported that Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said the life in manufacturing was welcome news for a sector of the economy that has been under pressure from a high exchange rate and high energy costs. He went on to say that the clear outcome of the federal election was lifting business sentiment. Furthermore, the Herald Sun reported on the PMI results that there have been lifts in services, manufacturing and confidence.
Those opposite can dwell on the negatives if they choose to, but I prefer to talk up Victoria’s manufacturing sector, because it is showing great strength and resilience in these very challenging times as a result of a number of initiatives that were either not put in place or put in place by the former, Rudd, Gillard and Rudd federal governments. I am confident other speakers will talk about the biggest impact on business, jobs and working families — that is, the carbon tax.
With commitment and vision — our commitment, our vision — we can secure and strengthen the state’s prosperity and produce jobs and opportunities for the future. There is a real job opportunity in front of us right now. The east-west link is a real opportunity not only to improve productivity in this state but also to create thousands and thousands of jobs. And who is opposing it? Those opposite. Those opposite are saying, ‘Don’t go ahead with this project’, despite the fact it is going to create thousands and thousands of jobs.
I do not know why they are opposing the east-west link, particularly their leader. To be fair, I am not sure that everybody in the Labor Party opposes the east-west link. I think that privately some of them see it as a good opportunity for Victoria, but we know the leader of the Labor Party, Daniel Andrews, the member for Mulgrave in the Assembly, opposes the east-west link, which is kind of curious.
It is curious that Daniel Andrews opposes the east-west link when it is supported by the ALP-aligned Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which thinks it is a good thing. The ALP-aligned Australian Workers Union thinks it is a good thing. The Electrical Trade Union thinks the east-west link is a good thing.
The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry thinks the east-west link is good, as do the Australian Logistics Council, the Australian Industry Group, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Master Builders Association of Victoria, the Property Council of Victoria, the RACV and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce. All of them have got behind us, as have the Committee for Melbourne and the Committee for Gippsland. All of them have said that the east-west link is a great project.
This job-creating project — over 3200 jobs — was also previously supported by the federal Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.
Mr Finn interjected.
Mr ONDARCHIE — Electricity Bill Shorten absolutely supported the east-west link, as previously did a member of this house, Mr Cesar Melhem.
Mr Finn — How many jobs was it?
Mr ONDARCHIE — I will take up that interjection. It was 3200-plus jobs, Mr Finn. This is a real opportunity. Mr Melhem supported it; Mr Wade Noonan, the member for Williamstown in the other place, previously supported it; and the Honourable Marsha Thomson, the member for Footscray in the other place, supported it. Guess who else supported it? The mover of this motion, Mr Somyurek. He supported the east-west link, and yet he stands behind his leader — feebly, I suspect — and says, ‘We will not support the east-west link’, but he did before and he should — —
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) — Order! I know what Mr Ondarchie is trying to say, but I think he should go back to the motion. This has gone further than it should have.
Mr ONDARCHIE — Acting President, I thank you for your comments, but I remind you that the previous speaker talked about job creation when she talked about Cotton On and a range of jobs at Shell and a number of places in her electorate. She spoke about job creation, so with due respect, I am just picking up her line. The east-west link project will create jobs.
We know that manufacturing in this state is doing it tough. Victoria is a great state for manufacturing and a great place to do business. There have been several announcements over the life of this government that have indicated that people are willing to invest in manufacturing in this state. I remember the announcement not that long ago about Nexteer Automotive investing $126 million to develop the manufacturing of new lightweight electric power steering systems right here in Melbourne.
I think Victoria will be one of the few places around the world where we are going to see great new and emerging technology in the manufacturing sector and in the associated automotive industry. Nexteer Automotive’s investment is one of Victoria’s biggest automotive investments in two decades and will strengthen the sector’s R and D capacity and manufacturing and export capabilities as well. This investment by a large global company is a vote of confidence in what we are doing in this state. We work very closely with manufacturers and businesses to make them competitive and productive and enable them to access export opportunities, so we welcome investments like that of Nexteer.
Members of this government will continue to work to revitalise manufacturing in Victoria. We are going to work with businesses to strengthen them and to improve their productivity and innovation so that Victoria can compete with the best, both globally and at home.
I am sure that those opposite will get with us today and say, ‘Yes, this is a good initiative by the Napthine coalition government to ensure the strength of the manufacturing sector’. With that in mind, the government will not be opposing the motion.