Greens act on car industry crisis

The Greens have announced a plan for sustainable jobs in the ailing auto components industry, proposing that the Automotive Transformation Scheme legislation stalled in the Senate be revised and a new 'Green Car Transformation Scheme' created.

Announcing the plan at Precision Components Australia Pty Ltd, a car component maker in South Australia, Greens Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt, said the plan for a 10-year Green Car Transformation Scheme would give Australian auto parts makers a fighting chance and ensure Australia was part of the shift to electric vehicles in the $2.4 trillion global car market. South Australian Senators Penny Wright and Sarah Hanson- Young and Victorian Senator Janet Rice also participated in the announcement.

The Australian auto components industry is in crisis and neither of the old parties is taking action to ensure it has a sustainable future. Without prompt action there is a real prospect most of the components industry will not survive the transition. Speculation about Ford possibly closing even earlier than 2017 only makes action more urgent.

The Coalition wants to gut industry support, which could see the component sector collapse and the big car makers leave early, while Labor wants to wait until after the next election.

Workers in the car and component industries are driving towards a cliff in 2016/17 while we miss big opportunities to create sustainable jobs in the meantime. The most recent unemployment figures just again highlight that south-east Australia urgently needs a plan for sustainable jobs.

Globally, sales in electric vehicles and hybrids are expected to exceed half a trillion dollars by 2025. The future is electric mobility, alternative fuels and public transport. All of these need high-tech components and those components can be made here.

The Greens supported a Senate current inquiry into the industry but tens of thousands of jobs are at risk and opportunities would be missed if a new plan wasn’t put in place soon. Ford’s planned exit in 2016 together with shrinking forward orders in the component sector frees up saving in the Automotive Transformation Scheme which could be redirected and spent on a longer-term jobs plan.

Quotes attributable to Mr Bandt:

"I want to see an Australian-made component in every electric car built around the world.

"Let's also find out if we can make electric cars here by extending government support to new car makers who have a plan to build vehicles in South Australia or Victoria.

"New makers in Australia and a component sector servicing the global alternative fuel car market could provide sustainable jobs for some of the workers in South Australia and Victoria after Holden, Ford and Toyota leave.

"We won't countenance any changes to the scheme that would see existing car makers leave early and workers left in the lurch, but we're equally unhappy to just wait for the whole industry to drive off a cliff in 2017.

The Greens plan would:

  • Continue support to currently eligible ATS recipients;
  • Establish a Green Car Transformation Scheme and redirect most of the existing ATS funding towards the scheme;
  • Broaden the eligibility for the scheme by removing current requirements for Australian component manufacturers to be producing components for Australian major vehicle producers to be eligible for assistance;
  • Focus assistance on auto parts makers that are seeking to be part of the local or global supply chain for electric or low emission vehicles;
  • Provide support for any new major vehicle producers that are established and invest in Australia;
  • Be premised on existing car makers staying until their forecast end dates;
  • Extend assistance beyond the current and proposed government end date for the ATS for the next ten years until 2025;
  • Favour new applicants who commit to hiring workers made redundant from existing car or component makers;
  • Increase transition assistance to workers in the industry;
  • Enable eligible participants to receive payments in quarterly instalments;
  • Establish a fund to support incentives and infrastructure support to encourage the rollout of electric vehicles in Australia and set a national target for the take up of EVs; and
  • Reallocate the forecasted ATS underspend.

Media contacts: Damien Lawson 0487 900 005 or Adam Pulford 0429 109 054

Download the Greens' plan here.