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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 9044


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (16:34): I rise today to support my colleagues from Indi and Aston on this matter of public importance: the carbon tax that is no good for Australia. It affects my electorate more than any other electorate in Australia. The full force of the carbon tax is going to hit my area. It is a toxic tax, and nothing more than a tax. It will not do anything at all for the atmosphere in my area or any other area of Australia.

I do not go knocking on doors in my electorate, they come knocking on my door and they say to me: 'How safe is my job?' What can I tell them? This is a tax that will be antimanufacturing, antibusiness and antijobs. Jobs in my area finance a lot of jobs in this House. Yesterday we saw an announcement that 1,000 jobs will be lost in the steel industry. I do not want this to happen to the aluminium industry, which is Rio Tinto in Gladstone and which supplies over 4,000 jobs to the people of Gladstone—to say nothing of the people in Weipa who supply the bauxite to Gladstone. Merrill Lynch, overnight, predicted 100,000 jobs would be lost to the Australian manufacturing industry by March next year. That is only six months away.

What do they think on the other side of the House? When are they going to wake up? Goodness me, they are asleep at the wheel. They are fiddling out of their depth; Rome is burning and they are sitting. Business in my electorate has lost confidence. Business around Australia has lost confidence. There is no certainty left in Australia. From here on—I do not want to say it but I am going to say it—jobs are going to fall because there is no confidence in this Labor government.

I was flying home to Gladstone on Saturday and sitting beside me was a construction worker. I said, 'Where are you working now?' He said, 'I'm working in Indonesia on a nitro fuel plant.' He said, 'We expect to be there for some time because there are so many things happening in Indonesia.' There are 600 Australian companies in Africa. There are 225 projects underway by Australian companies in Africa. There is delegation after delegation from African countries coming to Australia because they can see that there will be plenty of jobs they can get for workers as the industry closes down in Australia. That is a fact.

Gladstone has two aluminium refineries and one smelter and as I mentioned before they employ over 4,000 people. The high Australian dollar, the low Japanese yen, the Chinese yuan or the RMB—how long do you think it will be before these businesses are under strain? Businesses do not work on their budgets for 12 months—it is a long-time thing. They look at their balance sheets, they look at their P and Ls and they do projections for the next 20 years, and I can tell you now that they are factoring in this carbon tax and that their only hope is that the Labor government will be kicked out within two years. Then we can return it to normal.

There is a proposed steelworks plant for Gladstone which would employ 2,000 people. Where would that project stand at this moment with what has happened to OneSteel and BlueScope Steel? This is very serious. To the plan from the opposition, the government says 'Oh, a steel transformation plan'. What does this mean? Do we have an aluminium transformation plan? Do we get a cement transformation plan?

Do we get a chemical factory transformation plan? What will we tell the people? The people are going to pay. The taxpayers of Australia are going to pay. What are we going to say to the families that have geared their budgets to current incomes from their stable industry jobs? 'Oh, sorry, your $100,000-plus a year job has just gone, but wait—we'll give you a job in renewable energy! How about greasing the windmills? How about putting solar panels on rooftops? By the way, you won't be making the solar panels because they're made in China and they'll be transported out here. Centrelink is there to help, too. We'll see you right!'

Once all the steel, aluminium and cement industries are shut down, who are the 500 biggest polluters going to be? Just imagine the fun on the opposite side when the carbon cops are running around the countryside saying: 'Are you in the 500? Are you over the 500? We're coming to get you, guns ablaze!' But there will not be any polluters out there because there will not be any industries there. It will be too late. Industries will be offshore and so will our skilled staff. They will be working in South America, Africa, Indonesia or China. Trucking companies, meatworks, farmers—bring it on! It is a great plan! 'We'll look after you. A transformation plan for everyone!'

What does the government's support do to manufacturing? It has already announced that it is going to wipe $2 billion off the car industry. That is a disgrace. The government talks about the opposition, with $500 million, but its plan is to wipe $2 billion off the Australian car industry. When you look at the Australian car industry you see it has adopted packages to get emissions well down—that is how we will get our emissions down. Look at our trucks; they do not blow smoke anymore. There are a lot of issues that we take direct action on that do not get recognised by the government.

Our Treasurer wonders why we have inflation: health and medical services are up 5.6 per cent; education, up 5.9 per cent; food, up 6.1 per cent; electricity, up 10.7 per cent—this is in one year, mind you; petrol, up 11.3 per cent; water, up 12.8 per cent. The Treasurer wonders why we have inflation. It is the government charges that are putting up the cost of living and that directly relates to our interest rates—they go up accordingly. He does not know what is causing inflation—he is causing the inflation! The Treasurer and his buddies in the states over the past few years have caused inflation to the point where we are buckling under the interest rate pressure. It is hopeless.

It is written that back in 1957 Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the Country-National Party coerced big companies like Rio Tinto to get involved in the manufacturing industries in Queensland, especially the aluminium industry. When the aluminium industry first came to Gladstone in 1965 the people threw their hands up in the air with joy; we had something more than fishing and grain crops. There were incentives given, but they always paid their way. You would think the companies do not pay much but by the time you add corporate tax, royalty tax, superannuation, GST charges, payroll tax, land tax and MORT our companies are paying big money to live and have their industries in our country. Do not frighten them away, please. We need them. We all need them.