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by Matt Brogan

The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced yesterday that the Automotive Industry has been handed over to Manufacturing Skills Australia (MSA).

Both the manufacturing and repair, service and retail sectors of the Automotive Industry are represented by member organisations that have been denied an audience with the Deputy Prime Minister, despite numerous requests to meet.

“This has occurred without any regard for the position of the key direct stakeholders,” VACC General Manager of Industrial Relations and Training, Ms Leyla Yilmaz, said. “The MSA represents, in the main, the big end of town in plastics, chemicals, textiles and furnishing manufacturers. The Automotive Industry is at a loss to draw the similarities with automotive repairers, sellers of vehicles, fuel outlets, towing operators, dismantlers, vehicle body repairers, specialist vehicle modifiers and the like.

“This decision sends a message to the Automotive Industry that our views are unimportant. It is very disappointing that the Government has not taken the time to hear and consider the serious reservations expressed by the Industry in merging with MSA. Relying on the Bracks’ Report which issued a recommendation without any basis is indicative of the lack of regard to the decision made by the Industry to refuse a merger with MSA in 2003.

“Then, and consistently since, the automotive sector expressed its wish that it not be merged with a skills council that is unsuited to the industry, but the Deputy Prime Minister has chosen not to consult our views. The Automotive Industry is made up of mainly small business, employing almost 400,000 employees. The Automotive Industry will not be forced lightly into a marriage doomed to fail, or worse still, damage the commitment to training and employment in the Automotive Industry.”