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Transcript 16229

Doorstop interview with the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr Melbourne

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/11/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16229

PM: I am very pleased to be here today to launch a new Green Car Plan for Australia's future.

You've heard my remarks. I don't propose to elaborate on them. Happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well, this country has always believed, at least for the last decade or two, in moving towards free trade. These tariff cuts were already legislated. Our job was to work with industry on a decent, forward looking industry policy, innovation policy, for the future to help the industry transform. If you transform in the direction of what consumers want in the future, which is more fuel efficient cars, cars which produce less greenhouse gas emissions, that's what the future is about, where there is partners to do that. Both for the domestic market and of course for export as well.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: This plan is a forward looking plan for the future.

It is not a blank cheque. As the minister said before, there is a significant commitment to the industry, but we expect a significant commitment back from the industry as well. And the way in which this assistance is structured, it is provided in response to actual investments and commitments by the car companies on the ground - all three of them. And that's the way we will be implementing it in the future.

The key significance of today, however, is us, the Government, saying unequivocally that we believe in this industry's future. We're prepared to provide long term support for innovation policy to help the industry's transform for the future so they can themselves act with confidence that government is going to be there as a partner.

The alternative is the government turns its back and walks away. That's the alternative course of action, that's what some are still advocating. I believe in manufacturing, I believe in the car industry, I believe in the 200,000 jobs which are supported directly and indirectly by the industry. And this government is proud to be out there in support of this industry for the future.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: The Australian automotive industry is a strong industry. Just today, looking at the innovation which the big three are undertaking, and the component companies are undertaking, and the research institutes are undertaking. This is an industry with huge potential for the future. And the spin off, in terms of other related industries, is huge.

Therefore, for us to get behind it is the right thing to do. Not just to support the 200,000 jobs indirectly and directly which are part and parcel of this great industry, but for the broader interests of the economy as well.

With a global financial crisis and a global economic downturn, you can either sit on your hands or take action. We've taken decisive action and we stand by it.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: Well, the minister himself has been to Detroit and we've both been to Nagoya and spoken with (inaudible) HQ in all three cases. And of course we've dealt with their representatives extensively here in Australia as well.

Obviously globally the car industry is going through a difficult period of transformation. But the key challenges for the future is transformation, in the direction of long term fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This $6.2 billion investment for the future is all about making this innovation possible in Australia, supporting the environment, supporting the economy and supporting jobs.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: The car companies as I understand it have already indicated publicly their support for this initiative, support for this investment by the Government in the future. And as I said before each allocation of funding from the Green Car Innovation Fund as well as the Automotive Transformation Scheme that we have for the future, will be based on actual commitments and actual investment decisions in the future as well.

We have put this together in a very practical way with the industry, said ‘here is our money, but it is money delivered in response to a real effort on their part' and with investment ratios of the type I described in my speech before.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

CARR: There are a range of initiatives we are taking with State Governments to assist with the development of the Green Car Innovation Fund. They will be partners in that. They will also, we are talking to them about their attitude in terms of taxes and charges for the automotive industry.

So that is a matter for them to actually announce. But we are in the business of building partnerships right across this industry, from workers to company owners, to ensure that consumers get a better deal to be able to provide high wage, high skill jobs for the future.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

CARR: Well that's absolutely critical and we will be announcing over the next few months a range of new initiatives as a result of these discussions which will indicate precisely what the levels of investment are from the companies.

So irrespective of the global crisis that we are facing, in Australia the car industry is doing a lot better. I am confident we will be able to secure new investment and ne0w projects will demonstrate that and will strengthen the Australian automotive industry through the next little while.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

CARR: Well we are in the business of encouraging the highest level of skills development and new jobs created. There will be downturn in the industry, there is just no way around that. There are some 200 component manufacturers, some 60 of whom at the moment are facing considerable levels of stress. We are working with the industry to minimise the number of jobs that are lost in the short term so that we can strengthen investment for the long term to ensure that there are new job opportunities that emerge in this industry.

PM: At a time when there is a lot of global pressure on the industry, the attitude of Government can either be to wash your hands of it and say, ‘not my problem', or to step in as a partner. We believe in partnership. We believe in partnership with the Australian auto industry. And we believe in that partnership for the long term future.

Part of our response to the global financial crisis and global economic crisis is to create the rational grounds for confidence in the future as well and us putting a solid step forward with this decisive action today, a $6.2 billion investment for the future, is part of the confidence equation for the future as well.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: We're acutely conscious of that, in fact in my continued discussions with the Australian Treasury and their continued discussions with the finance company sector in general on those dealing with the auto sector we are acutely conscious of the challenges which lie there.

Right now the Treasury is in continued discussions with many of those companies in terms of providing appropriate ways forward for the future, we know that auto finance is part of it and I am sure the Government will have further to say in the future once our discussions are concluded with the finance company sector.

Last one folks because I have to fly back to Canberra and go to question time.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PM: The same assurances I give to the Governments of NSW, Queensland, South Australia, the ACT and any other I can mention.

The bottom line is this, this Government believes in infrastructure, we believe it's necessary for our long term economic future, we also believe it is necessary to provide necessary support for the Australian economy and jobs in the period ahead. That's because of the global financial crisis and the global economic downturn.

Each of the projects which was put forward by State and Territory Governments will be subjected to rigorous analysis by Infrastructure Australia and based on their assessment the Government will be supporting projects of merit which have been appropriately prepared, appropriately analysed and which have a strong business case.

But that work is in progress, we will wait until its conclusion, but I just say this, this Government unlike its predecessesor believe that there is a national role in laying out infrastructure plans for the future, our ports, our rail, our road systems, our hospitals, our universities, our TAFE's, our national high speed broadband network.

In the great tradition of Labor Governments in the past we actually believe in building things, just like we believe in manufacturing and that's where we will be in the future as well. Necessary for the economy in the short term in terms of support, growth in jobs, necessary for the efficiency of this economy in the long term to have world class infrastructure.


Transcript 16229