- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsView/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Reconciliation: Indigenous Australians
(Stone, Sharman, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Taxation: Interest Rates
(Evans, Gareth, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Draper, Trish, MP, Fahey, John, MP)
(O'Connor, Gavan, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Skase, Mr Christopher
(Jull, David, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Taxation: Child-Care Costs
(Wilton, Greg, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
(Gash, Joanna, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Pay Television: Australis
(Rocher, Allan, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
(Bailey, Fran, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
(Macklin, Jenny, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Secondary Boycotts: Waterfront
(Randall, Don, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Taxation: Entertainment Costs
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
Taxation: Land Transport
(Marek, Paul, MP, Vaile, Mark, MP)
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Commonwealth State Disability Agreement
(Billson, Bruce, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
Public Hospital Funding
(Lee, Michael, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Forrest, John, MP, Fischer, Tim, MP)
One Nation Party
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Fischer, Tim, MP)
(Andrews, Kevin, MP, Howard, John, MP)
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
QUESTIONS TO MR SPEAKER
National Reconciliation Week
(Stone, Sharman, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
Flags in the Chamber
(Melham, Daryl, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
(Price, Roger, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
(Morris, Allan, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
(Morris, Allan, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
(Causley, Ian, MP, Mr SPEAKER)
- National Reconciliation Week
- NATIONAL SORRY DAY
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (YOUTH ALLOWANCE CONSEQUENTIAL AND RELATED MEASURES) BILL 1998
- MATTERS REFERRED TO MAIN COMMITTEE
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1998-99
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
(McClelland, Robert, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Higher Education: Studies
(Latham, Mark, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Grants
(Ferguson, Martin, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Superannuation Benefits: Emigrants
(Thomson, Kelvin, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Overseas Australian Missions
(Crosio, Janice, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Natural Heritage Trust: Funding Applications
(Crosio, Janice, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
(Kerr, Duncan, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
Robinson, Mr Floyd
(Campbell, Graeme, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Labour Hire Firms
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Department of the Environment: Labour Hire Firms
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Attorney-General's Department: Labour Hire Firms
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
Department of Veterans' Affairs: Labour Hire Firms
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Scott, Bruce, MP)
Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
(Jones, Barry, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Protocol for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
(Jones, Barry, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
Air Charter Programs
(Tanner, Lindsay, MP, Vaile, Mark, MP)
Telstra: Public Telephones
(Jones, Barry, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
Family Court: Newcastle, New South Wales
(Morris, Allan, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
Cairns Migrant Resource Centre: Funding
(Ferguson, Martin, MP, Ruddock, Philip, MP)
(Bevis, Arch, MP, McLachlan, Ian, MP)
Wool Containers: Land Transport Costs
(Morris, Peter, MP, Vaile, Mark, MP)
Tuesday, 26 May 1998
Mr MOSSFIELD (8:45 PM) —I rise to support the second reading amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Gareth Evans). In doing so, can I say that the extent to which the three Howard-Costello budgets have hurt battling Australians can be seen by comparing the raw figures from each of the three budgets.
When you do that, you find that, in health, you have a net loss of $1.62 billion. In education, you have a net loss of $2.99 billion. In aged and community care, you have a net loss of $399 million. In spite of the remarks by the previous speaker, the member for Hindmarsh (Mrs Gallus), I do not think the aged care community has done very well at all out of the three Howard-Costello budgets. In child care, there is a net loss of $798 million. In employment programs, there is a net loss of $1.49 billion. Over these three budgets, over $7 billion has been cut from these programs. No wonder battling Australians are hurting.
Even the business community in western Sydney was disappointed that the 1998 federal budget did not provide the finance to complete the western Sydney orbital road system. Indeed, this was a major issue in my electorate, one that got most of the coverage in the local press. I have spoken previously in this parliament about the need to complete this road network to ensure the full development of cross-regional links between employment zones and regional centres in western Sydney. There is now an urgent need to complete this road network to allow full development of industry in western Sydney and to ensure that this region benefits economically both during and after the Olympic Games.
The existing road network out from Sydney's CBD is radial and lacks direct cross-regional links between employment zones and regional centres. High levels of congestion are increasingly being experienced on the existing freight corridors serving greater western Sydney, including the M4, the M5 and the Cumberland Highway. The capacity of the M4 has already been reached, with 4,200 vehicles at peak hour traffic times. This congestion is threatening the competitiveness of industry and commerce located in greater western Sydney due to insufficient freight movements and longer transport travelling times.
If real industrial and commercial development is to be achieved, attention needs to be paid to the movement of freight both within greater western Sydney and to the major terminals at Port Botany and Kingsford Smith Airport and to the rail terminals at Chullora and Enfield. The federal Labor government recognised the western Sydney orbital between the M2 at Seven Hills and the M5 at Preston as part of the future national highway link through Sydney. As such, its funding is the responsibility of the federal government. The western Sydney orbital is estimated to cost $800 million to build to national highway standards with a divided carriageway and graded separated intersections over its 43-kilometre length.
The previous federal government, in its May 1995 budget, committed $260 million to commence the construction of the first stage of the orbital between Preston and Cecil Park. Construction was to start in 1996. Additionally, in August 1995, the then federal Minister for Transport, the member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Brereton), committed $220 million for the second stage of the orbital between Cecil Park and the M4 at Eastern Creek. Construction was to start in 1998. This federal government has reneged on these commitments.
In November 1996, the then federal Minister for Transport and Regional Development, the member for Hume (Mr Sharp), announced that the federal government had set aside only $109 million over five years towards restructuring works comprising environmental assessment, land acquisition and other planning activities. Based on advice from the federal minister at the time, the New South Wales government has included $7 million in the New South Wales budget for the proposed orbital in 1997-98. However, the federal government has yet to announce its funding allocation for this project.
The capacity and efficiency of the existing transport network to service commercial vehicles and freight movements affect the completion of the economic development of a region. Greater western Sydney has a population of 1.6 million. It has a gross national product of $35 million and produces 10 per cent of New South Wales's agricultural output, yet it has not one freeway standard cross-regional road.
Road transport is a major contributor to the distribution industry. New and expanding industries are increasingly seeking proximity to major road networks to reduce transport costs. Development in technology also leads to companies locating near industries and local markets rather than close to their own headquarters. There is also a need to take into account the likely trends in freight demand based on future industrial growth, changes in freight activity, such as just-in-time centralised distribution, cross-docking, outsourcing of transport and distribution processes, smart warehousing and electronic freighting.
The region's business community has identified the completion of what is termed the arterial road grid, consisting of the existing M4, the Cumberland Highway, both Windsor Road and Old Windsor Road, the M2 under construction and the western Sydney orbital, as essential to western Sydney's economic development. Funding for the upgrading of the Cumberland Highway announced in this budget was welcomed, but more needs to be done.
I now move on to another area of the budget. Within its budget papers, the coalition government has detailed its exposure to bank borrowing to finance its planned waterfront redundancies. We know, according to the newspaper this morning, that there is some doubt about whether those redundancies will proceed or whether the government will honour its commitment. But, essentially, the government has established its own company, to be called the Maritime Industry Finance Company, MIFCo, which will establish, under Commonwealth guarantee, a loan facility of up to $250 million. These loans are to be repaid by the levies on stevedoring companies of $12 per container and $6 per vehicle. These arrangements allow the minister to authorise payments that are directly or indirectly connected with the reform and restructuring of the stevedoring industry.
MIFCo establishes a slush fund to allow the Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Business (Mr Reith) to dictate terms to the stevedoring industry, including the employment of non-union labour. The Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Business says the potential benefits of waterfront reform are of vital significance to our national interest. I would ask him for some efficient modelling on this point. Seeing we are talking about efficiency, let him show the Australian public how efficient government ministerial decision making is. If he cannot do this, we should sack all the frontbench.
Can the minister tell this House, for every job lost on the waterfront and the loss of the economic multiplier of a waterfront wage, where the new jobs will be created? Will they be on the basis of one for one, or on the basis of one part-time or one casual job for each two jobs lost on the waterfront? Will the real result just be increased unemployment?
The minister refers to the position when his government came into office in 1996. Let us look at what had been achieved on the waterfront up to that point. Between 1989 and 1992, under the Labor Waterfront Industry Reform Authority, container rates increased by almost 50 per cent. Ship turnaround times almost halved. Fifty-seven per cent of the waterfront work force took voluntary redundancy. Does the government acknowledge this important fact? It does not. Labor introduced enterprise bargaining which, together with new investment, has contributed further significant gains to productivity in the past couple of years. Because these improvements were negotiated without forced sackings and blazing headlines, the general public may not be aware of the extent of these productivity improvements, but the government most certainly is aware and its silence is to be condemned.
Another point to be remembered in this issue is that the government was clearly involved in the planning and implementation of the sacking of Patrick's unionised work force. We do not have to go any further to drive this point home than to recall—as you will recall yourself, Mr Deputy Speaker Forrest—that on midnight of 7 April Patrick's operations, with paramilitary precision, moved in with security guards hidden by balaclavas and accompanied by guard dogs. They closed Patrick's ports all over the country and sacked and removed the company's unionised work force. The next day, as you and I will recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, at 9.31 a.m.—nine hours and 31 minutes later—the minister was moving the Stevedoring Levy (Collection) Bill 1998 and he was being patted warmly on the back by the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) for his efforts.
This swift action was in clear contrast to the government's refusal to assist other workers who had been retrenched for a range of economic and industrial issues. In some cases, these were very similar to the way the Patrick's work force were sacked. The Cobar miners found that they were employed by an insolvent subsidiary of a wealthy multinational and would not get their entitlements. Where was Minister Reith on this issue? Deathly silent. The Tasmanian employees of food company Simplant discovered that they had been transferred without warning into the employ of one of the world's largest hire companies, Manpower. Where was Minister Reith on this issue? Deathly silent. Another case was the Gilbertson abattoir workers at Grafton, who lost $3 million in entitlements after they were transferred from the parent company to a stripped down subsidiary which went broke. Where was Minister Reith on this issue? Deathly silent. The Woodlawn mine, not far from Canberra, is another example of workers being caused massive distress and a loss of income and entitlements. Where was Minister Reith on this issue? Deathly silent.
Another spin-off of the legislation that this parliament needed to consider—and, indeed, the public will consider at the next election—was the intention to use public money to promote political agendas. The government did not have it in its heart to assist the Cobar, Woodlawn or Grafton retrenched workers. The government removed $500 million from aged care and $800 million from child care in its first two budgets. It did, however, feel for the battling consultants, particularly those with Liberal Party connections. The government was prepared to spend $1.3 million of taxpayers' money to pay 11 consultants for one single project to destroy the MUA.
The question is now being asked by the Australian work force, as it was in an excellent article by Lester Loble in the Sydney Morning Herald of 27 April. Are we seeing on the Australian waterfront today this country's version of the American industrial relations system that Ronald Reagan introduced in 1982 when he fired striking air traffic controllers? I will quote from this excellent article:
Reagan sent a signal to American companies that they could follow suit and they did—replacing unionised workers with lower paid employees once virtually unheard of, has remained popular since Reagan's initial sacking.
The article continues:
Like Chris Corrigan, American companies also declare bankruptcy to avoid existing union contracts and forced workers in the queue with other creditors. On top of losing their jobs employees often get only a minimal redundancy package.
Even their earned superannuation benefits have been slashed in some cases. After reorganisation the company can pick up where it left off, but with a new work force.
These are only a few quotes from an excellent article which shows the path we are following under this government's deliberate move to make job insecurity the cornerstone of its industrial policy.
But even prior to the waterfront, there were many policies of this government that were leading to job insecurity for ordinary Australians, and I will mention some of them. We had retrenchments in the Public Service which, according to the Prime Minister prior to the election, were to number only 2,500 but finished at 77,400—74,900 more than made in a core promise to get public service votes. We had growth in part-time and casual work at the expense of full-time work, with the erosion of award conditions and workers sitting by the phone waiting for the call to perform four hours work. We had the privatisation of the CES and the creation of Employment National and a raft of private employment agencies whose role will be to make a quick buck out of the unemployed.
There is the situation of a long-term unemployed husband whose wife is working. He gets no assistance from Employment National and is told, as one of my own constituents was told, to join the queue until they had dealt with the money making customers. I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you would not support that sort of practice, yet this is what ordinary Australians are facing because of this government's three budgets.
I will conclude on this point. I think it was the member for Moreton (Mr Hardgrave) who said in his speech on the budget last night that one of his constituents was moved to tears by this budget. I can say that many of my constituents of Greenway were also moved to tears, but they were not tears of joy; they were tears of pain. An example is the lady from Kings Langley, a suburb in my electorate, who rang me because she could not get her child into a local community health service for much needed speech therapy because they had closed their books because of a shortage of funds. The lady's comment was that it is not much good having a surplus if you cannot get adequate health care for your family.
I will leave the last word on this budget to a Mr Bill Johnston from Centacare's Social Policy Research Unit, who said:
It would seem that in a short space of time we have become a divided nation in wealth, in insecurity of employment, in human cohesion, with an underlying values vacuum in public life.