Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (10:49): Yesterday was the darkest of days for workers at Holden and workers in the automotive industry around the country. We learned the devastating news that Holden had decided to cease production in Australia by 2017. In Elizabeth 1,700 workers and around 2,900 workers nationally are affected. It was not an easy decision for Holden to make, I know. It was made a lot harder by the political controversies surrounding the automotive industry in this country.
This is going to have a knock-on effect to over 200,000 Australian workers whose jobs depend directly or indirectly on auto and automotive components around the country. The Australian automotive industry and the transport industry represented about eight per cent of the total domestic steel volumes last financial year, with the number expected to have risen over the next 12 months. Of course, that is not going to happen. That will have a direct impact on workers in my electorate of Throsby and in the Illawarra in New South Wales, many thousands of whom draw their employment through BlueScope and related industries.
BlueScope Steel will lose at least $33 million in revenue every single year with the shutdown in GM Holden. The Port Kembla company supplies around 14,000 tonnes of steel worth about $18 million directly to Holden to make cars in Australia and an additional $15 million worth of steel to the major components suppliers to Holden each year. So, Deputy Speaker, you can see that the impact of Holden's decision will stretch far beyond Elizabeth and far beyond South Australia and Victoria.
This decision was not inevitable. We were promised a government that would give us no surprises and no excuses, and yet here we are today seeing senior ministers within the government saying that they themselves were shocked. Well, if you look at what has gone on in the chamber over the last week, nobody should be shocked by the decision that General Motors Holden have taken. You have had senior ministers in the government opening the door and daring Holden to walk through it. Is it any wonder that it was very difficult indeed for decision makers here in Australia to convince their board in another country to keep backing the industry here in Australia?
So, far from no surprises and no excuses, what we have seen is a government trying to blame the workers and blame past decisions, where the blame to the extent where the government could have had any influence on this rests fairly and squarely with the cabinet and with those who have been cheering for this change for decades.