Last Friday Premier John Brumby, along with the federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr, announced that Toyota would undertake a $300 million upgrade of the Altona plant, securing over 3000 Victorian jobs. Old technology is being closed down all over the world. Nearly all new global investment is going into the developing world. For Australia to receive an expansion in capacity is a massive vote of confidence in the Australian automotive industry and the government policy of both federal and state Labor governments.
Last Friday’s news was great for Toyota workers and their families and for the 12 000 other workers who depend on the Toyota plant for employment. However, the opposition has attacked this announcement — and not for the first time.
In July this year the Brumby government wrote to Toyota to assure the company that Victoria supported this investment in the hybrid Camry after Mr Baillieu’s attack on the plant and the hybrid Camry project. If this project had not gone ahead — and it certainly would not have if Victoria had been led by a Baillieu government — Toyota Australia would have had to import hybrid engines from Japan, leaving 3000 people jobless and certain flow-on effects for the other 12 000 workers who depend on the Toyota plant.
Jobs are extremely important — important for job-holders, important for putting food on the table and important for keeping families together. You do not play politics with jobs. I say to Mr Baillieu that ordinary Victorians depend on their jobs and they do not want them jeopardised by someone with no industry policy, no plan and no idea about their industry.