Representatives from the Australian, Victorian and South Australian Governments met with automotive industry leaders, including representatives from Holden, Toyota and Ford, component manufactures, industry associations and union leaders to discuss the future of Australia’s automotive industry.
All parties acknowledged the shared responsibility in ensuring a viable, innovative and efficient automotive industry. The meeting expressed a shared commitment and optimism about the future of automotive manufacturing in Australia.
Today’s meeting agreed on the importance of cooperation and community involvement in implementing the $76 million package of measures announced in response to Ford’s recent decision to cease manufacturing operations in Australia in October 2016, noting that Ford will remain in local production until then and will continue as a significant employer in design, engineering and sales.
The meeting of key industry, union and government representatives welcomed the measures and agreed to work closely on implementation of the package.
All participants emphasised that displaced workers, affected regions and automotive supply chain firms are the highest priority and will be supported.
The meeting acknowledged Ford’s contribution of $10 million to the Industry and Innovation Funds. Further details of the package are attached, including activity by all governments.
Workforce, community and industry consultation and engagement will be vital in shaping and implementing these support measures on the ground, ensuring they meet local needs and are community based.
All parties urged state and local governments to use the opportunity to buy Australian made motor vehicles as part of their fleet purchasing arrangements, consistent with the practice of the Commonwealth, Victorian and South Australian governments.
Participants acknowledged the support needed for workers affected by Ford’s recent decision, both directly in the company and indirectly through the supply chain.
The Australian Government’s $10 million support for training through the National Workforce Development Fund will assist this process, with Auto Skills Australia coordinating labour adjustment activities including career advice services and training to supplement employment support services.
Employment assistance is also being provided for affected workers from Ford and downstream automotive suppliers. A key element of the package will be to establish the Geelong region as a Priority Employment Area from 1 July 2013. This area will be supported by access to a Flexible Funding Pool and a Local Employment Coordinator who will work with Ford and other local stakeholders to ensure affected workers in the Geelong region get the help they need as they start planning for new employment. There is already a Local Employment Coordinator in the North Western Melbourne Priority Employment Area who is working to help support employees from the Ford plant located in Broadmeadows.
Additional funding is also being provided for Regional Industry Employment Coordinator to help affected employees from automotive industry suppliers maximise opportunities available through the Government’s economic development and diversification programs and funding for the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers. This is in addition to the assistance being provided by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union through the Government’s $51.9 million Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program, to support affected workers including those from downstream suppliers as the industry adjusts.
The meeting discussed how the two Innovation and Investment Funds will be used to diversify the employment and economic base of the regions by stimulating investment which generates sustainable job opportunities.
The Australian and Victorian Governments will appoint independent local representatives to the advisory committees for the funds.
The guidelines for the competitive grants programs will be finalised through stakeholder consultation over the coming month and there will be a call for applications for each of the funds by July 2013.
The meeting acknowledged that a successful automotive industry, which creates skilled jobs, drives high-level research and supports other technologically sophisticated industries, is a marker for an advanced economy and its manufacturing capability.
The automotive leaders noted the impact Ford’s decision will have on the industry. They also emphasised other positive developments including recent investment decisions by Holden and Toyota.
Representatives from the automotive supply chain pointed to the importance of the assistance to automotive supply chain companies to diversify their customer base and product range.
Minister Combet indicated that following the meeting, he will be discussing prospective policy arrangements, including supply chain arrangements, with motor vehicle producers, component manufacturers, unions and other industry stakeholders.
The meeting noted that the Manufacturing Leaders Group will continue a tripartite discussion on these matters.
All parties will be consulted in this policy work over coming months, addressing issues facing motor vehicle producers, and associated companies engaged in the supply chain through component manufacturing.