The ACTU has welcomed the Federal Government’s 13-year, $6.2 billion car industry investment package including the plans to secure the future for thousands of car industry jobs.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

“Today’s announcement sends a strong message of support for manufacturing jobs and industry development in the short and long term. The package comes at crucial time when the car industry needs to act swiftly to cope with the global economic downturn and invest in developing greener technology.

“This kind of intervention by the Government is necessary to secure the future of the industry and to safeguard the skilled jobs of Australians.

“Making an investment in skills for tens of thousands of Australian workers is wise in the current economic climate, and will yield long term benefits.

“The Australian vehicle and component industry employs over 65,000 people directly and an additional 250,000 in the supply chain. Many of these jobs are in regional areas.

“Unions are particularly pleased to see that funding is to be earmarked for initiatives such as fuel efficiency and low emission technologies, which have the potential to grow jobs and export opportunities in the green automotive sector.

The ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation recently released a report forecasting that with supportive government policies of this type, Australia could create an additional 500,000 “green jobs” by 2030.

“Devoting resources to research and development in the automotive industry sends our competitors a clear signal that there is a healthy future for Australia’s car industry.

“This package is an important step towards ensuring that Australian car industry is internationally competitive and will provide good jobs into the future.

“It will be essential for business to play their part in making the most of the investment strategy.

“Employers need to work cooperatively with their employees and unions for the package to be successful.”