The federal government announced an expanded, $155 million automotive assistance program yesterday, though the opposition has said it goes nowhere near far enough.
Described in a joint statement by prime minister Tony Abbott and industry minister Ian Macfarlane as assisting to “generate the jobs of the future”, the package sets aside.
The fund, announced in the wake of Holden’s decision to end manufacturing in Australia in 2017, was originally budgeted $100 million. Since the original announcement, Toyota has also announced that it will close its factories in 2017.
The federal government will contribute $100 to program, with the rest planned to come from Victorian and SA governments and car makers.
Abbott's announcement came after reviews of the two states' economies.
These found, "significant growth can be expected in sectors like advanced manufacturing, food and agriculture, health and biomedical, mining services, tourism and education" according to the Abbott government. "...[T]he Growth Fund will help local economies take up these opportunities,"
The Adelaide Advertiser notes that the SA government is yet to agree to participate in the assistance programs, and would be – in effect – competing with Victoria for its share of the subsidies.
“Importantly, we will need confirmation that this fund will be quarantined for South Australia and Victoria only,’’ SA industry minister Tom Koutsantonis said.
“We will also need details as to how funds will be distributed between SA and Victoria.’’
Abbott said that the Commonwealth would try and ensure an equal share between the two states, though the applications for the funding would be decided on merit.
“So it is a bit of a competitive process,” he said.
But in the end we will try to ensure that everyone gets a reasonable share of this $155 million.’’
According to the AMWU and the federal opposition, the amount goes nowhere near far enough.
"It's well and truly short of the mark,” AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian said, according to AAP.
“We think $1.5 billion is needed."
Kim Carr, shadow industry minister, labelled the amount pathetic.
"The Abbott government has clearly failed to grasp the deep and complex consequences of the end of automotive manufacturing in Australia," he said.