Hockey: Aussies should buy cars to save industry

THE potential demise of Australia's car manufacturing industry, the carbon tax and abolishing the country's debt ceiling again dominated Question Time today.

As the Senate voted to get rid of the debt ceiling, only days before the previous $300 billion limit was due to be breached, lower house MPs debated the merits of further subsidies for the car industry.

With Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial, the deputies ran Question Time.

Labor hit out immediately at Mr Abbott's comments last week that there would be no more subsidies for Holden, after reports the company may close shop here in 2016.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said the future of the industry was in the hands of the industry - and that the best thing that could be done to protect the industry was "for Australians to buy their cars".

In the continued effort to force Labor to vote to repeal the carbon tax, Mr Hockey led attacks on the Opposition, saying it was "the carbon tax itself" that added to the end of Australian car manufacturing.

Faced with further questions, Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane said the tax was adding up to $400 per car produced in Australia, a cost not borne by its overseas competitors.

But it remains to be seen if Mr Abbott will recall the parliament over the Christmas recess to resolve several key issues, including the carbon and mining taxes.

While the removal of the debt ceiling was completed on Monday, stalemates on the other key issues remain unresolved.

Mr Hockey said the Greens-Coalition deal, which will see more transparency around government debt, showed the Greens were more open to debating policy than Labor.

"The Greens are proving to be more middle of the road, more responsible than the Australian Labor Party," he said.

"I'd say to the Labor Party one day, just one day, have some integrity; have some principles."

But opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen accused the government on hypocrisy, after declaring a "budget emergency" before the election, then removing the debt ceiling.

"What you do is you justify yourself to the parliament ... what you see is the treasurer saying we need half a trillion dollars and we'll show you the figures later," he said.

It comes as the government prepares to release its mid-year budget update, a crucial document which will give the first official figures on decisions made by the Abbott Government since September 7.

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