PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5685


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 09/11/1981

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5685

I am very pleased to be here today for the commissioning of
this new G. M. H. engine plant.
The plant represents a significant investment in the future
of Australia. It surely reflects confidence in the stability
and the~ economic prospects of this country. For six years,
the Government has worked consistently to encourage this
kind of confidence, to help create the conditions in which
productive and profitable investment will take place in
Australia on the scale required and I believe that the level
of investment that is now occurring, as evidenced by a great
engine plant such as this, helps confirm that our policy
approach has been right. I
The construction of this plant was obviously closely linked
with the Government's decision in 1979 to introduce export
facilitation measures. In making that decision, the
Government recognized the desirability of the Australian
automotive,-industry becoming more integrated with the world
industry, thus contributing to the viability and competitiveness
of the industry, especially in the longer term and enabling
Australia to keep abreast of technological advances,
especially in connection with the development of high quality
fuel efficient vehicles.
Obviously a four cylinder engine plant on anything like this
scale would have been unthinkable only a few years ago and
the situation in which, as I am advised, two-thirds of an
expected annual production of 300; 000 engines will be exported
to General Motors plants overseas wou~ ld have been equally
unthinkable. Such exports will increase production runs and.
help achieve really significant economics of scale in production.
They can help to counter the problem of the relatively smal.
Australian domestic market. This response by G. M. towards
the increasing international integration of automobile
production will no doubt assist in improving the firm's cost:
structure. / 2

The acceptance of the "' world car' concept is clearly
significant in terms of the Australian industry becoming
more outward looking and G. M. H.' s involvement in the
production of s " J"-car, is to be commended.
In this industry in particular, co-operation at every level
of the productive process is essential especially in achieving
reliability of production and quality-in the products.
Management has a responsibility to marshal technology,
organise productivity and maximise marketing opportunities.
The workforce has the crucial responsibility for the standards
of workmanship which enable the manufactured products to
stand against those of other countries in meeting the
requirements of consumers. Australian goods can and do meet
this test in very many fields indeed. Australian workmanship
and Australian management are the equal of any in the world.
I believe that Australians should work together so that
" made in Australia" will become more and more synonymous
with high quality workmanship and good design in all areas
of industry. If people can work together in pursuit of that
aim, then a great deal will already have been done to meet
the challenge of improving Australian living standards.
In the motor vehicle industry, Australian management and labour
have combined to produce higher quality cars than ever
before in the history of the industry. I believe that consumers
are becoming increasingly aware of this and no doubt the
motor industry itself will want to do everything in its
power to keep improving the quality of Australian made cars
and thus strengthen this turnaround in opinion.
It is not so many years since the label " fully imported"
was regarded by many Australians as almost sufficient
recommendation for a product and I cannot say how pleased
I am that-Australians have broken down that myth by
imprbving our own products.
I cannot emphasise too strongly that while Government
policies, both in this and other countries, obviously have'
very significant effects onf manufacturing industry, the
underlying key to whether products will sell is their
quality, their desirability in the eye of the consumer,
and whether they are good value for money. Every manufacturer
knows this, every manager knows-it, every worker knows i; t,
and I really believe we must bring it more and more to the
forefront of our minds as a nation when we are thinking
about what we must do to keep increasinq our living standards.
A healthy, growing economy is the only road to increasing
prosperity. No cloud must ever be allowed to blot out
or blur our awareness of that fact. And a healthy, growing
economy has to depend on how well our goods and products
compete in the market place. I ., 3

I have referred to the impact of government policies in
this process and the Government's policies towards
protection of industries are currently gaining particular
attention. Questions about protection have seldom been
easy to resolve in Australia and the decision which the
Government now faces in relation to the I. A. C. report on the
motor vehicles industry is particularly difficult. One
thing that the people who are so concerned about this
issue really ought to realise is that it would be
inconceivable that this Government, having worked so hard
and so consistently for six years to create the conditions
under which the manufacturing sector has been built up,
would now take actions to destroy this.
Protectionism and protection levels are issues of vast
importance to the long and short term future of Australia
and it would be quite wrong for the Government to be rushed
into decisions before all the factors and all the
possibilities have been properly weighed up.
How much better it would be if we could look at these issues
with a constructive spirit on all sides so that the views and
interests of everyone affected can be properly considered
so that a proper balance can be achieved between the interests
of people working and investing in the industry on
the one hand, and consumers on the other,
and so that we can make sure that as a result of the decisions
we take, we will be * pursuing the right objectives in the
right way. And having said that, I also wAnt to say that
so far as the Government is concerned, two fundamental
points on which all the discussions which are to take place
must be premised are an awareness of the reliance of
thousands of Australian families on the industries involved
and the fact that a strong and internationally competitive
manufacturing sector is essential to Australia's future.
The Government's objective of increasing the international
competitiveness of Australian industry is well-known and
so is the fact that gradualism and predictability have
been key elements in our strategy on protection. It is
this Government which has recognised that when change is
desirable, industry and the community together need clear
guidance on the framework within which the changes are to
take place as well as time and incentives to adapt.
I do not want to talk at length today-' about this issue, vital
as it is. But I would just say that this Government has
shown that it has a capacity and a determination to make
the kinds of decisions on these difficult issues that steer
the balanced course in the interests of all sections of
the Australian community. So against that background, let
me come back to this magnificent engine plant and I just want
to say that it must be seen as a tremendous development in
this industry and that I speak for millions of Australians
when I say that I hope and believe it will be most successful
in an operational sense.
It gives me great pleasure to perform the commissioning cerEmony.

Transcript 5685