Coalition would scale down protection for car manufacturers
Joe Hockey. Photo: Jim Rice
THE Coalition has ruled out protection for car manufacturers if elected, prompting government claims it would wreck the industry and cost more than 200,000 jobs.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said there should be no more blank cheques for the industry.
While there would be some assistance, he said a Coalition government would place much more stringent conditions in return for funding while boosting competitiveness by changing industrial relations and abolishing the carbon price.
''We're not saying no [to investment], let's get it right,'' Mr Hockey said. ''Protection is not the answer.''
In March, Holden received a $275 million subsidy package, which included $215 million from the federal government and the rest from the South Australian and Victorian governments.
The car maker threatened to leave the country without the ''co-investment''. As a result, it agreed to stay until 2022 and produce two new cars in Australia. In January, Ford received $103 million assistance from the state and federal governments and its US parent company.
The federal government contribution was $34 million and the Victorian government about $19 million.
When this was announced, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Ford had promised to create another 300 jobs.
The government has committed $5.4 billion to the industry between now and 2020. Of this, $1.5 billion is committed by 2015. The Coalition policy is to contribute $1 billion by 2015. It is yet to reveal what it would do after 2015.
Industry Minister Greg Combet said the government was not handing out money without conditions.
''The manufacturing industry is undergoing significant change, particularly as a result of the high value of the Australian dollar, but Labor is committed to working with the auto sector to ensure it has a strong future,'' he said.
He said the money given to Ford was to develop the next model Falcon ''and this is vital for jobs at Ford's operations''.
''By contrast the Coalition opposes the assistance for Ford, and wants to rip away $1.5 billion of support from the car industry,'' he said.