Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise today to acknowledge the tragic closure of the Ford Broadmeadows and Geelong plants last week. The consequences are yet to be fully realised across the state, but the effects are immediately felt by the workers involved. They have to rebuild their lives, as do the communities who so heavily relied on automotive manufacturing to generate wealth and other benefits for our economy. The industry was a place that offered working people the opportunity to build a real future, good conditions and high pay in a unionised and well-organised environment. It gave hope to new arrivals seeking to build a future for their families, and it provided a way out for the many thousands of people seeking refuge in our country. Few industries were able to achieve this on the scale of the auto industry. That is what made the difference; that, amongst other things, is what made it so special.
Plants were a mix of over 70 nationalities under one roof. Different languages, different cultures and different life experiences meant that we often had to develop cutting edge processes to involve people fully in the work experience. Today I pay tribute to the thousands of workers both past and present who have built Ford over the last 90-plus years. It was an absolute privilege to represent them for 16 years of that. It is a part of my life I will always cherish. I wish all vehicle workers who lost their jobs last week the very best for themselves and their families, and I am confident that with the host of re-employment initiatives introduced by this state government, coupled with re-employment incentives to employers taking on displaced workers, they stand the very best possible chance of moving forward.
I would also like to add that we should never forget that whilst there were a number of economic factors leading to Ford’s decision to close, it was the direct action of the federal coalition government that shut down the rest and gave workers in this industry few job opportunities into the future. Shame on you!