Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — I rise today to speak about the excellent work of the Andrews Labor government in assisting ex-auto workers in Victoria. With the loss of the car manufacturing industry, the Victorian government has worked hard to ensure that these retrenched workers have the assistance they need to find new work and get on with life. There are plenty of examples where this government has looked to prioritise Australian manufacturing jobs for these workers.

The recently signed heads of agreement with BAE Systems is one step closer to securing a $5 billion defence vehicles project for Victoria if the federal government comes to the table. The government has also been prioritising Australian jobs in the development of the Metro Tunnel project. This project is set to create nearly 7000 jobs. A significant emphasis has been placed on enabling ex-auto workers to move into these jobs. Many of them will be in my electorate.

The Andrews government is also continuing to target grants through our Local Industry Fund for Transition (LIFT) program to assist businesses in starting projects suited to ex-auto workers. An example of this is R A Bell & Company, an emergency service vehicle manufacturer, which received a $1 million grant through LIFT. This grant will create opportunities for 39 workers, who have now started work with that company. The government knows that we cannot abandon these workers during their time of transition. We cannot do what the previous federal Liberal governments have done in abandoning these workers and car companies by refusing to give Holden $250 million. Otherwise they could have been here for probably another 10 years. Shame on them.

17 October 2017