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Toyota closure dominates first day of Parliament

THE imminent closure of Australia's last car manufacturer in 2017 dominated federal politics on the first sitting day of 2014 in Canberra on Tuesday.

But while the job losses from Toyota's late-Monday announcement held the headlines, drought reforms and parliament house crockery also rated a mention.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten posed the first Question Time query to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Toyota, with Mr Abbott batting away comments that it was not his intention to "play the blame game".

Mr Shorten was earlier joined by Labor front and back benchers to hit out at the government for not supporting industry, despite the long-term decline across the manufacturing sector.

During that press conference, former Industry Minister Labor Senator Kim Carr burst out, labelling the government's response a "free-market fantasy", and calling on Mr Abbott to reveal what support would be given to the 2500 Toyota workers.

However, a Dorothy Dixer gave Mr Abbott the chance to say Toyota's decision was final, and despite the "shadow" of Monday's announcement, he urged Labor to pass the carbon tax to help reduce the cost of living.

Before the jousting on the floor of the House, the Coalition joint party room heard from several Nationals MPs backing Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's plans for a drought assistance package for farmers.

The party room also heard from a Liberal backbencher who hit out at the Cabinet's decision to deny SPC Ardmona's appeal for $25 million to guarantee its operations.

Outside the major parties, Senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan had bought $11,000 worth of Australian made crockery for Parliament House, to highlight their argument for more support for Australian businesses.

However, Fairfax reported the Department of Parliamentary Services had turned down the offer, partly due to the House already having enough crockery to feed parliamentarians.

Topics:  federal parliament toyota


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