Re-tool the car industry for public transport vehicles and renewable energy
Ford's announcement that it will close its last vehicle manufacturing plants in Australia - in Geelong and Broadmeadows - destroying the jobs of 1,200, is "totally despicable", said Sue Bull, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Corio.
"It is especially despicable as this giant multinational has collected huge public subsidies year after year - supposedly to save jobs".
"The Australian people have been played for suckers," said Bull, a long-time, Geelong-resident, socialist and trade union activist who won 10,000 votes when she ran for Geelong Mayor last year.
"Socialist Alliance says enough of this billion-dollar racket!
"The remaining Ford plants should be immediately nationalised and the industry re-tooled to manufacture public transport vehicles, electric cars and infrastructure for a rapid shift to renewable energy.
"And the federal government should probably anticipate and pre-empt a similar move by GMH and Toyota.
"Workers in the car industry have the skills and expertise in logistics, production engineering, designing for production and quality control that could be applied to production which helps us break from a fossil fuel dependent economy. This is urgently needed to address the climate change crisis.
"The plants can be re-tooled to produce wind turbines and other equipment for renewable energy production, as well as trams, trains and other vehicles and infrastructure for a sustainable transport system."
Bull said that the total amount of subsidies Ford - and the other big car companies like GMH and Toyota - received from federal and state governments over years was a "closely-guarded state secret".
"Attempts by the media to get this information through FOI laws have been turned down but it probably is worth billions in today's dollar terms," she added.
"The trade union movement should stop tailing behind the Lib-Lab bi-partisan policy of subsidising car company profits. Instead, the unions should demand that the public's money be invested protecting jobs and building a just and the environmentally sustainable future."
The Socialist Alliance says:
End the corporate welfare, nationalise the car industry and re-tool it for the manufacture of public transport vehicles and infrastructure for a rapid shift to renewable energy and low carbon transport system.
No cuts to wages, hours or conditions - for a just transition to sustainable employment.