Jan 172012

Peter Reith’s piece in The Drum today is nothing short of sheer, unadulterated, fantasyland twaddle. The man is surely an attention-seeker.

What’s more important is the fact that it’s a veneer statement of intent as to what Reith intends pushing as part & parcel of conservative policy in 2013. Industrial Relations reform by stealth, through the vehicle of….well, the vehicle. Reith’s ludicrous claim that abolition of import tariffs on motor vehicles will somehow be good for Australia’s motor vehicle manufacturing sector is quite staggering in its transparency.

The best result for Australia would be if the Government consulted with the industry and agreed a staged transition timetable for the end of subsidies and the abolition of the 5 per cent tariff. The current rules for the import of second hand cars should also be wound back as has happened in New Zealand. Second hand cars are much cheaper in NZ. In this scenario, the Coalition could support Labor and Australia would benefit. If this does not happen, then the Coalition needs to formulate a policy that is consistent with good economic management and that includes a comprehensive and integrated approach with fiscal and labour market policies.

The dishonesty is bald-faced and obvious. Backdooring Workchoices is not likely to win any friends amongst the working classes of this country. Unionised or not. Reith’s use of New Zealand as a comparison is about as fraudulent as is possible for any politician to be. New Zealand has no motor vehicle manufacturing sector. Every car on her roads is imported, without exception. As for the “current rules” for the import of second hand cars, said rules exist for bloody good reasons. Australian safety design considerations being not the least consideration. Of course, he also fails deliberately to postulate on the impact of massive job losses were Ford and GM-H to close their doors, as is highly likely the case were tariffs to be abolished, AND subsidies cut, as he opines. There is not one country on the face of the globe with a vehicle manufacturing sector which doesn’t subsidise it’s manufacturers. What makes Reith think that losing a vital area of GDP generation, together with massive increases to unemployment is going to be to anyone’s benefit, other than multi-national European, American and Japanese vehicle manufacturers which would profit?

As to making second hand cars cheaper, I’d really love to see the numbers on that. It’s a furphy argument of the first order. A ridiculous statement that would see the class divide further broadened with the well-to-do benefitting from slightly cheaper imports, while the rest of us who can’t afford $90,000 Jags & BMWs left with the dubious imports from Japan and China of those country’s used-by-date-exceeded cast-offs.

All the while, and this feeling becomes stronger with every piece of partisan politicking Reith produces, I cannot escape the impression that he is laying the groundwork for the ultimate downfall of Tony Abbott. There hasn’t been one piece of rationality from Reith since the falling out over the Liberal Party presidency between he & Abbott. What has been produced are snippets of very smelly drivel which Abbott is ultimately left to rebut or make excuses for. Mark my words, Reith will be the petard Abbott’s stinking carcass will be eventually hoisted upon.

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