Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor’s industry spokesman Senator Kim Carr have criticised the Abbott government after Toyota announced it was ending manufacturing in Australia. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew Meares
Federal politics: full coverageMark Kenny: Explanations needed on Toyota’s demise
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused Tony Abbott of ”wilful neglect” in the wake of Toyota’s decision to quit manufacturing in Australia.
Labor has demanded the Prime Minister outline his government’s plans to create new jobs and support workers after the shock announcement, which Mr Shorten described as an ”economic tsunami”.
Mr Shorten, who was flanked at a press conference by industry spokesman Kim Carr, employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor and MPs representing electorates in Victoria that stand to lose thousands of jobs after Toyota’s decision, said Mr Abbott was sending jobs overseas that would never come back.
“What a disgraceful day yesterday,” Mr Shorten said on Tuesday.
”There is the Abbott government and their ministers cooking up political games and instead at the same time as they are playing political games, we see 2500 people being told by their employers that is it, your job no longer exists.
”The shockwaves of this economic tsunami are unprecedented in terms of employment.”
He added: “Even the Australian car industry could not survive the wilful neglect of the Abbott government.”
The world’s largest car maker announced on Monday evening that it will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017. Some 2500 of the 4000 workers employed by Toyota locally will lose their jobs, and hundreds more positions are expected to go in the components sector and other related supplies industries.
Mr O’Connor said it was not good enough for the Prime Minister to wait until 2017 to intervene on behalf of the Toyota workers.
“We call upon the government today to outline exactly what plans it has to provide opportunities for these workers to find new jobs,” Mr O’Connor said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said he couldn’t ”offer false hope” to workers who may use their jobs. He said he understood his words would be “of little comfort” to workers who have been hit with the devastating news, but he had been assured that Toyota’s management would look after its employees.
”Some consolation ought to be there in the fact that Toyota aren’t going tomorrow, they’re not closing down next week or next month or even next year,” Mr Abbott told ABC radio.
Mr Abbott, who is meeting with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue, said he was confident Toyota’s workforce could move ”from good jobs to better jobs” in the long run.
”The job of government is not to offer false hope or miracle cures. The job of government is to sit down and carefully and methodically . . . sort out what is best done in difficult situations,” he said.
Mr Abbott cited the example of Newcastle, which lost its steel works in the 1990s, but was now a ”different and many would say somewhat better city today”.
Asked repeatedly what he would be offering the Victorian Premier by way of Commonwealth assistance to deal with the economic fallout of Toyota’s decision – which economists warn could tip Victoria and South Australia into recession – Mr Abbott refused to provide specific detail.
”I will be offering [Dr Napthine] a good hearing,” Mr Abbott said, adding that ”the best thing the government can do is get the fundamentals right”.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.