FTAs 'not possible' without cuts to industry assistance: Hockey
The signing of free-trade agreements with China and South Korea wouldn't have been possible had the government not made 'tough' decisions to reduce car industry assistance, Treasurer Joe Hockey has said.
At the time Holden and Toyota made the announcement they would bring to an end Australian operations, the government asserted its election commitment to cut $500 million in industry assistance did not influence the automakers' decision.
In a recent interview, Hockey backed the government's decision to end the "age of entitlement for industry".
"There would not have been any free-trade agreements if we hadn't made the hard decisions about industry assistance," he said.
"So there would have been no free-trade agreements if Labor were elected."
During parliamentary question time he said: "(The decision to cut industry assistance) needed to be made because as a result of that decision we were able to get free-trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China."
Shadow Minister for Industry Kim Carr along with Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Penny Wong, in response to the Treasurer's recent comments, said it was alarming "support for Australian jobs was used as a bargaining chip for the Abbott government's trade negotiations".
They said: "Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane must outline … what industry assistance has been traded away by the Abbott government in the pursuit of trade agreements."
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