Via the ABC:
Tens of millions of dollars will be offered to the world’s automotive giants to resurrect the Australian car industry, centred around manufacturing electric and hydrogen-powered cars, under a yet-to-be unveiled Labor plan.
The ABC has learned the Labor Party has been quietly working on the plan for the past couple of years, with high-ranking executives from the United States travelling to Australia to discuss “co-investment” options with Opposition figures.
It is understood Labor plans to offer major carmakers research and development grants from a $1 billion fund aimed at re-stocking Australia’s manufacturing sector.
Labor wants 50 per cent of all new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030 and it believes many of them should be built in Australia — potentially using repurposed car factories in South Australia and Victoria.
Australia’s last mass-produced cars rolled off the production line in October 2017, when Holden closed its Adelaide plant. Toyota closed its Altona plant in Victoria the same month, leaving 2,500 workers redundant.
Ford stopped production at its Geelong and Broadmeadows plants in October 2016.
Labor leader Bill Shorten has hinted at his plan for a car industry renaissance in recent days, saying he wants Australia to be a “manufacturing nation”.
In his Budget reply speech, Mr Shorten said he wanted Australia to use its vast natural resources of lithium to create an Australian battery industry.
“So instead of the usual trope of shipping the minerals overseas and buying back the finished product at vastly inflated prices, let’s make the batteries here,” he said.
“And let’s do this with electric vehicles and charging equipment and stations too.”
Labor industry spokesman Kim Carr argues that the car industry is far from dead in Australia, with thousands of skilled workers, automotive engineers and designers ready for deployment as part of an existing “ecosystem”.
Australian manufacturers of automotive components exported $862 million of goods in 2017-18 and while cars are no longer being mass-produced in Australia, Ford still employs 2,100 people in its design, research and development divisions.
Holden GM has announced an expansion of its engineering and design workforce to 500 and Toyota has 160 working in R&D, specialising in hydrogen technology.
Firms active in the Australian automotive sector include Bosch, Unidrive, Nissan Casting, Carbon Revolution, MHG Plastics and Seeing Machines, which is working with Holden on autonomous vehicles in Canberra.
Queensland company ACE Electric Vehicles is building a $40,000 two-door electric van pitched at small businesses and companies. It wants to have 100 built this year in its Brisbane factory.
There are 65 firms still registered with the Automotive Transformation Scheme, which will distribute $1 billion between 2016 and 2020 to motor vehicle producers and component manufacturers who invest in research and development and innovation.
Senator Carr last week launched the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s industry blueprint with a pledge to boost the sector.
“We will forge an alliance of blue collar and white coat, to rebuild the industrial system for the 21st century,” he told the AMWU.
Well it’s damn side better than bringing in millions of coolies to crush wages and drive up house prices.