Additional Comments by Senator Nick Xenophon
There is still petrol in the tank of Australian automotive manufacturing
We can't afford to give up on car making in Australia. I endorse the
majority report of the committee, and commend the collaborative approach the
committee took to this inquiry. I especially wish to thank Senators Carr,
Madigan and Muir for their role in this inquiry.
I still hold hope for an Australian Automotive sector, seeing numerous
opportunities amidst current structural changes within the industry.
I have previously highlighted the innovative work being done by
Australian manufacturer Supashock in my state of South Australia and the
potential synergy between a domestic automotive manufacturing industry and
More recently, I have met with Australian companies Ethan Automotive and
Red Automotive Technologies, and Belgian company Punch Corporation who want to
be part of a revival of the auto sector.
Mr Matthew Newey, the chief operating officer of Ethan Automotive, fully
believes cars can be made profitably in Australia stating that the ‘success in
this market requires an agile low-volume facility and an entirely new
The Punch Corporation has been successful in reinstating a GM plant in
Strasbourg where it now makes high quality transmissions for Audi, BMW and GM.
I commend the Chair for also maintaining hope, identifying 'opportunities
to expand automotive manufacturing in other areas, such as automotive
aftermarket and the truck industry if the policy settings are conducive' and
additionally recognising 'the motorsport and motoring enthusiast sector are
significant contributors to the automotive industry and should be encouraged to
expand their activities.'
GM-Holden themselves, maintains hope for a domestic automotive industry
stating they are 'very open' to the prospect of their main automotive plant
being used by other companies in a push to revive the car industry.’
The Abbott Government, however, seemed to hold no hope for the future of
a domestic car manufacturing industry with its announcement on 10 March 2015
that it will not make changes to the current Automotive Transformation Scheme
I am hopeful that the Turnbull Government, with Industry and Innovation
Minister Christopher Pyne, will take a radically different approach and be
supportive of projects to revive car manufacturing in Australia post 2017.
It's critical that the government embraces the potential of new car
making firms in Australia because that is the best way to ensure the automotive
supply chain does not collapse post 2017.
As Mr Newey points out the British automotive industry, and its 'powerful
partnership' with government, is a prime example of the recovery of what was a
dying local industry. Why should Australia be any different?
Thomas A. Edison hit the nail on the head – 'our greatest weakness lies
in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more
I urge the government not to give up on an industry which, on many
fronts, offers huge potential given the right conditions and one of those right
conditions is a much more conducive exchange rate, around 70 cents to the US
dollar. With real political will and a concerted effort by industry we can
create those right conditions to revive car making in Australia. Let’s try just
one more time.
Independent Senator for South Australia
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