Kingston Automotive Parts Workers

Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Industry. The action I seek is for the minister to work with the federal government and the new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to provide the necessary support for component part manufacturing workers in the City of Kingston region. There is no doubt that Victoria is yet to experience the full effect of the cessation of the automotive industries, while Geelong, Broadmeadows, Altona and Dandenong will be under pressure with immediate effect as the automotive industries leave Australia. However, we cannot forget the impact this will have on automotive component part manufacturing workers in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

In the City of Kingston and City of Greater Dandenong manufacturing remains a significant employer and will continue to be so in the future. In Kingston one in eight people work in manufacturing, and a proportion of those workers will be greatly affected by the automotive industry going overseas. Members will recall the comments directed to the automotive industry by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey during his first contributions in the federal Parliament, which exposed a lack of care for these workers. I could debate the opposition for days about the support, or lack thereof, for the automotive industry, but support for workers and their families should be a given. Sadly, this has been a real kick in the guts for my community, who are now living through the uncertainty resulting from another nightly news bulletin telling them their jobs might be gone.

I want to recognise recent statements by the Premier and the minister in support of Ford Australia workers in Victoria following the company’s confirmation that it will be leaving in October 2016. I understand from recent reports that the minister has met with representatives from Ford, the relevant unions and automotive supply chain companies in the region to discuss the government’s $10.6 million fund to support the industry’s transition. This is an example of compassionate and proactive support for working people and their families, who will undoubtedly be doing it tough over the coming years.

The Victorian government is asking the new Prime Minister to reconsider the actions of the federal government in this matter to date. We are calling for the restoration of the almost $800 million it has pocketed that was initially allocated to support the automotive industry and for it to match the state government’s additional $18 million for innovation and investment funding in regions affected by this transition.

Our government will not stop supporting automotive workers and all workers across our great state. We will not stop in our commitment to drive investment in new industries and create jobs. Members need only consider Labor’s investment of $100 million in the Back to Work Scheme, $500 million in jobs and investment projects and $200 million in the Future Industries Fund.

It is time for the federal government, under its new Prime Minister, to partner with Victoria to support workers and their families, particularly as those workers have contributed a great deal to our economy over past years. I ask the minister to work with the federal government to provide the necessary support for component part manufacturing workers in the City of Kingston region and give the necessary support to those families.