I rise to make comment on the sad but so consistent comments made by the shadow
minister for industry and state development, Richard Dalla-Riva. However, before
I do so I would like to draw the attention of the house to this most recently
announced manufacturing and industry policy, Building Our Industries for the
Future — Action Plans for Victorian Industry and Manufacturing. It provides a
comprehensive framework to advance one of the most important industries we have
here in this state.
It also allows for the integration of federal and state
government policies that will provide maximum benefit for our communities.
The timing of this policy could not be better. We have now
received a number of reports in relation to the manufacturing industry and the
automotive industry. It is timely that the Victorian government has announced
its manufacturing policy when it will be of maximum value to the industry. It is
no news to people in this chamber that manufacturing is at the very heart of our economy in Victoria, and indeed we are the
lifeblood of manufacturing in this country. Manufacturing provides $30.6
billion, which is 11.4 per cent of gross state product. It directly employs 326
000 people. By anyone’s estimation it is an enormous industry. The $245 million
worth of commitments in the government’s package deliver strategic leadership.
The package provides policy and programs and will facilitate investment to help
ensure that Victorian industry and manufacturing grow stronger in this state.
This is the nature of our very strength. This government is taking action to
assist industries critical to our future prosperity to survive and thrive in a
time when global pressures are absolutely enormous.
This policy proposes a $122.7 million manufacturing action plan
which previous speakers have referred to, including a $50 million industry
transition fund. This fund is absolutely fundamental, and it complements what
has been announced by the federal government.
It sets the groundwork for future growth for firms with
potential to move into new and emerging markets by investing in new
technologies, developing skills and creating sustainability. This is an absolute
demonstration of the fact that the state and federal policies do not need to be
exclusive of one another.
The recently announced federal government’s response to the
Bracks inquiry into automotive manufacturing also tackled the need for industry
transition arrangements. Both governments have focused their policy platforms
around the need to have high technology and a high environmental thrust aimed at
securing a sustainable future for industry and development. This new policy
initiative provides further incentives for Victorian manufacturers to build on
their strengths and to make the shift to what is required to meet our challenges
now and in the future. Our state must continue to develop innovative new
products and services for international markets.
By doing this we will create more highly skilled jobs for
generations of Victorians to come and a stronger, more prosperous and
I do not believe for a second that there could be anyone in
this chamber who believes that key investment decisions — such as securing the
Toyota hybrid vehicle in the face of fierce competition from Thailand and Ford’s
decision to reverse its decision to close the powertrain operations in Geelong
— could have occurred without strong and robust intervention from the state and
federal governments. The government’s new policy announcements build on these
already outstanding achievements and are at the cutting edge of policy.
A further $97.2 million has been provided for a services action
plan to position the services sector to develop new global opportunities and add
value to the industry and manufacturing sectors.
The services sector is often overlooked, but it is of crucial
importance to the ongoing prosperity of industry, and it cannot be overstated.
There is also a $24.8 million investment in the global markets action plan to
assist Victorian firms to develop export markets and to expand their export
markets whilst integrating into the global supply chains. It is just another
demonstration of the depth of commitment this government has to manufacturing.
With $245 million worth of policy, which is aimed directly at
encouraging further growth within the automotive sector — an area I am
reasonably familiar with for obvious reasons — I would have thought the shadow
minister would be solidly behind the Victorian government in this respect. You
would think that as shadow minister he might have something positive to
contribute, and he might at least point to the social benefits of sound industry
policy and its potential for wealth distribution and employment generation above
the party political plight that he continues to run with.
What is the basis of the Liberal Party’s thinking that it is
the party for manufacturing industry? Where does it get that sort of confidence?
That is the question I asked when I saw this motion yesterday. It is certainly
not its policy. It cannot possibly be the policy the Liberal Party took to the
last election, because I found that last night. I searched the Liberal Party
website looking for policies. It would be no news to this side of the chamber
that essentially it was barren; it was a depressing sight. The supposed
alternative Victorian government did not have a single new policy for the people
of Victoria to assess. There was plenty of carping, whingeing and sniping in
press releases, but sadly no new policy.
But persistence was rewarded last night when I discovered the
Liberal Party’s 2006 election platform document, which in the absence of any
other policy being presented by the opposition I suppose will be the same sorry
list that it takes to the next election.
It is a very threadbare excuse for a policy document, but it is
a bit of a ripper. It contains the word ‘automotive’ only once, but it does
contain that precious word ‘procurement’, and I have noticed that it has become
a fairly popular buzzword with the shadow minister in recent times. But I advise
the Liberal Party that the word ‘procurement’ is only mentioned once.
The document is 10 pages in length and is full of assertions
and feelgood statements. At the back I found the costings for the election
commitments that the Liberal Party put before the Victorian
people. I wonder if members can guess what the huge amount of money was that the
Liberal Party was going to contribute to manufacturing and exports over a
four-year period. We have seen in its document that the state government has
contributed $245 million. Two years ago the Liberal Party went to the election
saying it would contribute $6 million over a four-year period. Forgive my
sarcasm for a moment, but one would think that such reckless spending must
surely have been approved at a high level in the Liberal Party.
But it gets worse when you go through the paltry 10-page
document which shows a total investment commitment of $29.6 million over four
years. That is not just in terms of manufacturing and exports; it also includes
industry employment — that is, Invest Victoria, the industry capability network
and the brokerage service and employment programs.
I have mentioned manufacturing and exports, but it also
includes innovation, information and communications technology, the Office of
the Chief Scientist, scholarships and a Victorian biotech advisory council. All
of that was summed up as a magnificent commitment of $29.6 million to those
I put to the house today that the Liberal Party policy offers
industry no hope, no future and no understanding of the complexities of a modern
industrialised country. It has not provided even one-tenth of what the Brumby
government has put in place. If Victoria is to continue to be the heartland of
manufacturing and innovation, it requires real policies. It takes some
intellectual heavy lifting — something it seems the opposition cannot bring
itself to do.
Also last night I went a little bit further in my search for
the Liberal Party’s manufacturing stance generally.
I thought the Bracks review into the automotive industry, being
the biggest automotive review since the Button plan, would receive many
submissions, and it did. It included everyone who is involved in the automotive
industry. The government provided submissions, the unions did, the employers
did, the academics did, and the general public made contributions as well. But
the Liberal Party, including the shadow minister, did not make a submission.
Liberal members did not even bother to pick up the phone. They did not indicate
one element of being interested or engaged in the process. I put to the house
that that is typical of an opposition and a shadow industry minister who just do
not have a serious policy position when it comes to manufacturing in this state,
because it is so much easier to just knock what the government is doing. The
Liberal Party just takes the easy road. It takes effort to lead; it takes
It takes time to develop really good policy, and good policy
means putting your neck on the line and thinking through issues for the
long-term benefit of all Victorians, not just making populist, throwaway lines
that come in handy at election time.
The opposition is just not up to it. Opposition members are
just knockers; they have got no answers, they have got no suggestions, they have
got no policy and, fortunately for the Victorian public, they have no future.
The opposition is simply not an alternative government. It has no idea, and it
brings nothing whatsoever to the policy table. It is on that basis that I urge
the house to vote against what I consider to be an absolutely ridiculous motion.