Question: Employment: Labour Force Data

Written on the 13 November 2012

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is directed to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Richard Dalla-Riva, and I ask: can the minister update the house on any recent employment data?


Hon. R. A. DALLA-RIVA (Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations) -- I thank the member for her question. Obviously we have taken an interest in the October ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) figures that came out last week and Victoria's unemployment rate. It is currently at 5.4 per cent, which is the same as the national rate. We have seen, according to the seasonally adjusted ABS labour force data, that there were 2 893 000 Victorians employed in October 2012. This is an increase of 25 500 jobs since the Victorian coalition government came to office. In fact nearly three-quarters of the jobs generated last month were generated in Victoria.


As we know and have always said, the figures can jump from month to month, but I think this demonstrates the resilience of the Victorian economy and of industry, which has been facing many challenges. We have always said there are challenges in industry in relation to the high Australian dollar, the intense global competition and the carbon tax.


We have also been noting another challenge. Just two weeks ago we had the distressing news of the shutdown of Autodom's factory sites in Victoria and South Australia. This was less than three months after the company was hit by reckless and disruptive industrial action by the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. We had 400 workers stood down, including 170 in Victoria, and facing an uncertain future. It was a reminder to the trade unions involved and to the federal government that all industrial actions have consequences.


Less than three months ago the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union called a strike and an illegal picket which shut down the operations of the car parts manufacturer's Dandenong plant. I said that this was delinquent action. It threatened to halt manufacturing by all car makers in Victoria and South Australia. Not only that, it also put at risk the jobs of thousands of workers across the automotive supply chain. I said at the time of this initial illegal picket that it was disingenuous for the unions to have subjected the company to unlawful industrial picketing to secure a deal the company could not sustain, and then to turn on others when the consequences of their unlawful behaviour became apparent.


It is just not me saying that. An article reports that Peter Macks from Macks Advisory, which was appointed administrator to take control of Autodom, said to SmartCompany that crippling redundancy payments totalling $18 million had brought the company down. They were the administrator's words about Autodom. The interesting thing is that this follows the collapse earlier this year of APV, a Melbourne car parts manufacturer. Harry Hickling, the former managing director of APV Automotive, was reported to have said that the unions were to blame for the company's difficulties and that the company did not have the cash reserves to finance redundancies.


What we see are irresponsible unions. All they are interested in is the power play over who will be next elected and who can take a seat on the other side of the chamber.


I say that is where those people should remain -- on the other side of the chamber. We know we need a secure future for the car industry in Australia. We need an industry that is globally competitive and productive, but it cannot happen if union officials claim for themselves the right to bring the system to a screeching halt. I have said this before, and I will say it again: for every step forward that we take, the unions seem intent on taking the Victorian industry two steps back.

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