Prime Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to maintain support for Australian car manufacturers squeezed by the high Australian dollar and weakening global financial markets.
Ms Gillard says the car industry must receive government financial assistance for the good of the economy and the nation.
She says it is important for Australia to remain one of only 13 countries with a car industry that could design and manufacture cars.
Manufacturing Minister, Senator Kim Carr pledged $34 million in funding for Ford Australia earlier this year to keep car manufacturing active until 2016.
The subsidies would help to create 300 additional jobs, Senator Carr said.
Ms Gillard says the car industry is now suffering strong pressures as a result of the resources boom.
The sector needed government assistance to survive, she says.
Senator Carr says the Government’s support is designed to encourage new investment for new products.
“It’s not the government’s job to tell them how to manage the plant. Governments do not run the car companies.”
Governments over the past decade have spent about $12 billion on car industry assistance and tariff support.
One study last year estimated that each car worker was subsidised to the tune of $29,000 a year.
Ms Gillard says a Coalition plan to cut $500 million in assistance from the industry is a threat to jobs.
“It’s not good enough in this time of global change and change in our own economy, when we see this pressure from the high Australian dollar, to just say no to jobs in manufacturing,” she says.
Ms Gillard has also pledged support for the 350 workers axed from Toyota’s Altona plant in Victoria earlier this year.
“We will be doing everything we can to work with them and support them to get a new opportunity and a new job,” she says. “We are working with the car industry and manufacturing overall to deal with these days of pressure.”
Ms Gillard says Toyota’s decision underlines the need for continued assistance to the industry.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the Federal Coalition will not reconsider its policy to wind back car industry subsidies despite the job losses at Toyota.
“The Coalition is very happy to make lavish assistance available to the car industry. “Under our proposals, there will be $1 billion in the Automotive Transformation Scheme,’’ Mr Abbott said.
“I want a viable car industry for the long term in the country, but we’ve got to ensure that it really is viable over the longer term.
“The Coalition is prepared to invest in that viability, but we’re not prepared to invest beyond the $1 billion that we say will be in that fund.’’
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