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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- WORLD YOUTH DAY
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Mr Brian Burke
(Nelson, Dr Brendan, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Ripoll, Bernie, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Mr Brian Burke
(Nelson, Dr Brendan, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Burke, Anna, MP, Elliot, Justine, MP)
(Turnbull, Malcolm, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Turnour, Jim, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
Newcastle Electorate: Roads
(Truss, Warren, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Vamvakinou, Maria, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
Investing in Australia
(Robb, Andrew, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
(Grierson, Sharon, MP, Crean, Simon, MP)
(Bishop, Julie, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Trevor, Chris, MP, Ferguson, Martin, MP)
Days and Hours of Meeting
(Scott, Bruce, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Bradbury, David, MP, O’Connor, Brendan, MP)
Vocational Education and Training
(Smith, Anthony, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
Bombing of Darwin: Anniversary
(Hale, Damian, MP, Griffin, Alan, MP)
- Mr Brian Burke
- FUEL PRICES
- QUESTIONS TO THE SPEAKER
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- SPEAKER’S PANEL
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- Paradise Point Bowls Club
- National Primary Industry Centre for Science Education
- Cowan Electorate: Blackmore Primary School
- Shortland Electorate: Homelessness
- Local Grants Scheme
- Ballarat Electorate: Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
- Start of Business
APOLOGY TO AUSTRALIA’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
- Ruddock, Philip, MP
- Thomson, Kelvin, MP
- Truss, Warren, MP
- Plibersek, Tanya, MP
- Stone, Dr Sharman, MP
- Hayes, Chris, MP
- Slipper, Peter, MP
- Gibbons, Steve, MP
- Hunt, Gregory, MP
- Ferguson, Martin, MP
- Keenan, Michael, MP
- Combet, Greg, MP
- Ciobo, Steven, MP
- Melham, Daryl, MP
- Scott, Bruce, MP
- Albanese, Anthony, MP
- Hull, Kay, MP
- George, Jennie, MP
- Morrison, Scott, MP
- Grierson, Sharon, MP
- Pyne, Chris, MP
Monday, 18 February 2008
Dr JENSEN (4:43 PM) —Now that this parliament has made the symbolic gesture of apologising to the stolen generation, we need to ensure that we do not simply fall back on failed policies and leave so many of our Indigenous community destitute and without hope. I am very concerned with what appears to be this government’s first policy move on this front—more houses. More houses in the wrong areas, particularly in remote communities, will achieve nothing. You will simply end up with abandoned or destroyed homes. The problem with the view of simply handing out necessities is that, for the person receiving these handouts, there is no feeling of ownership or pride or security. We need to find ways in which to move the inhabitants of these degrading, depressing communities to places where they have opportunities and where they are able to contribute to their own wellbeing and security. Ownership of a house, where you have put in effort and made sacrifices to own your own home, brings with it a sense of pride and achievement—a sense of worth and pride that is so often lacking in these remote communities. We have to make sure that we do not simply move these people to the big smoke and into a situation where they continue to subsist on welfare with no hope for the future. We need to ensure that this movement is to places where there are genuine opportunities, training and acceptance.
A reintroduction of unfair dismissal laws across the board would mean less opportunity for the Aboriginal people who have resettled. I urge the government to cogitate on this and other unintended consequences that would result from abandoning individual workplace agreements and a reintroduction of unfair dismissal. In an era when we have nearly full employment and very strong economic conditions, it would be a travesty if we did not seize the moment to make the very significant, fundamental changes required to turn the tragic history of Aboriginal misfortune on its head.
The Labor government has all the state and territory governments of the same political flavour. There are no excuses for not making the fundamental, extremely challenging policy decisions that are required. I have to say that I am concerned with the government’s stated position of endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although this would once again have a symbolic feelgood aspect to it, it would create very significant problems. If you think that I exaggerate, consider that this document states that ‘Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation’ and that states must give ‘due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws’ et cetera. This is political correctness gone mad. What we will end up with is the same situation that we had in South Africa of independent tribal homelands. Does anyone in their right mind think that this would be a good thing? We rightly condemned South Africa for this behaviour, but in this Orwellian dialogue the same policy direction suddenly becomes a good thing. The only way to move forward is to move forward as one nation, one people made up of many parts. Anything else is madness. The nation expects the government to deliver on improving the conditions and opportunities, and I will be one who watches this very closely.
Defence is an organisation that needs comprehensive reform. There are problems almost everywhere you look. Military justice is almost a contradiction in terms. Defence procurement needs to be comprehensively overhauled. Witness the numerous programs that are in severe trouble. In fact, a common refrain from Defence, when problems are highlighted, is to effectively say, ‘Yes, there was a problem six or 12 months ago or, indeed, two years ago, but that is no longer an issue; we have fixed it.’ Of course, in six or 12 months time you will hear the same argument about the problems of today. This is simply not good enough and, where you have the litany of major Defence acquisitions that have gone wrong, this can no longer be accepted.
Capability requirements and definitions are haphazardly and badly thought out. The fact that there has been no official analysis conducted into the best air combat capability for our future—and remember that this capability will cost about $1,500 for every man, woman and child in Australia—is a dreadful indictment, particularly when you have two analyses, one outside Defence and one unofficially carried out within Defence, both indicating that the current solution is not the optimal one. This issue has now become so politicised that any analyses or reviews must be carried out by organisations completely independent of Defence. A RAND Corporation analysis of this capability, for example, may be what is called for. An internal review would no doubt simply support the status quo, for the simple reason that it would protect those high-ranking officers associated with the various decisions.
The Defence Science and Technology Organisation, in my view, needs to have its funding independent of Defence for obvious reasons. It will then be able to conduct research that is done without fear or favour and, perhaps more importantly, be seen to be frank and fearless. I believe that the Australian National Audit Office needs to have more resources given to it so that, for major acquisitions, the project can be analysed and reviewed throughout its life, meaning through-life support upgrades and everything else, by people that are integrated with, but independent of, Defence.
The problems within Defence are so great that we need, in my personal view, an Aussie rules version of the Goldwater-Nichols Act that so comprehensively changed the face of the US military in the late 1980s. This was a recognition that the United States defence organisation, at the highest echelons, was broken. We need that recognition here. There is no doubt that Defence will vigorously resist any attempt at reform, just as did the US defence organisation. So this will require a strong will and, in my view, a bipartisan recognition that this is what is required.
The Labor governments in Australia rhetorically state that they are actively introducing policies to reduce greenhouse emissions. Their actions, however, tell another story. In October 2006, the Stern review was released to the acclamation of all of those on the other side who wanted to increase pressure on governments to legislate significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The federal Labor Party quoted the Stern review constantly in attempting to pressure the then Howard government into ratifying Kyoto and setting short-, medium- and long-term targets for greenhouse gas reductions. No-one on the Labor side of politics questioned the Stern review, nor did they question the climate change science in peer-reviewed journals that ran counter to the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Labor’s references to Stern, and the statements regarding the IPCC, were in glowing terms. On the Liberal side of politics there was significant questioning of both the Stern review and the science supporting anthropogenic climate change. This was highlighted in a parliamentary dissenting report that I co-authored last year. The report questioned both the premise of anthropogenic climate change and the Stern review. Some of the peer-reviewed science disagreeing with the IPCC position was quoted. The result of course was wide-ranging criticism in the media.
James Hansen, the main global warming scaremonger, and his group have had to revise their data on the US climate record that 2005 was the hottest year on record there. In fact, it was 1934. Four of the hottest 10 years in the US, from 1880 to the present, occurred in the 1930s, while only three of the hottest 10 years occurred in the last 10 years. Additionally, three of the four climate data centres indicate that 2007 is only between the fifth and the eighth hottest on record—Hansen’s group says second—and significantly below what IPCC models indicate should be the case. The fact that there is such a discrepancy in simply measuring the temperature should give cause for concern.
I have no doubt that all the anthropogenic global warming believers have heard about the melting Arctic sea ice, although interestingly we now hear Denmark’s Meteorological Institute state that the ice between Canada and south-west Greenland right now has reached its greatest extent in 15 years. To quote them:
Satellite pictures show that the ice expansion is extended further south this year. In fact, it is a bit past the Nuuk area. We have to go back 15 years to find ice expansion so far south. On the eastern coast it hasn’t been colder than normal, but there has been a great amount of snow.
It also noted that the Arctic sea ice extent has now completely recovered. But, interestingly, how many have heard that the extent of Antarctic sea ice is the greatest measured since measurements began in 1979? It is very convenient for state governments, who have been utterly delinquent in building the required water infrastructure to support population growth, to blame climate change for water shortages. In fact, long-term Bureau of Meteorology data clearly shows that we have had no reduction in rainfall in Australia. There are obviously localised variations. The fact that the last dam in Sydney was built around 40 years ago shows how irresponsible state governments have been on the issue.
It has now been revealed that the Productivity Commission has cast significant doubts on the Stern review’s economic statements. The commission’s report examines the economic modelling done by Stern and indicates that Stern has exaggerated the cost of anthropogenic climate change action. Other sources, some of which are mentioned by the Productivity Commission, have similarly criticised Stern’s economic assessments and the scientific basis for his economic models.
The Labor government now appear to be committing to a reduction target of 20 per cent, or one-fifth, by 2020. It will be interesting to see how they believe they will be able to reach this target. According to ABARE, energy consumption will grow by 20 per cent compared with 2005-06 levels. About one-third of carbon dioxide emissions come from electricity generation and the other two-thirds from other sources. There is little that can be done about these other emissions, so essentially it all comes down to reduction of emissions from stationary power generation. This means that one-third of our current electricity generation will have to be replaced by completely non-emission-technology electricity generation and an even greater percentage if it is simply replacement of one high-emitting method of power generation with a lower emitting method—in addition to all new power stations being greenhouse emissions free.
Excluding nuclear energy will make the task far more difficult, given that according to ABARE only 8.1 per cent of electricity will be generated by near zero emission technology by 2020. What makes the task impossible is that Labor rhetoric sounds good to the ears of those who desperately want large cuts in greenhouse emissions. But, despite the rhetoric, Labor governments are commissioning new-build coal-fired power stations in New South Wales and Western Australia. This clearly demonstrates the ethical bankruptcy of their arguments.
The Liberal opposition has taken a pragmatic view of policy to deal with this issue. The major point is that maximum benefit can be obtained by supporting international efforts to reduce deforestation. The other issue in the policy is that the implications of any target set need to be comprehensively analysed and assessed before committing to any greenhouse reduction targets. In my view, policy to militate against the potential effects of anthropogenic global warming should be based on the simple premise that, in the case of the theory being incorrect, the policy measure adopted should have benefits other than greenhouse gas reductions. Reducing worldwide deforestation clearly fits this premise. Labor’s politically expedient measures do not.
We have asked many of our older constituents, the self-funded retirees, to save for their retirements so that they are not a burden on the taxpayer. It may be an unintended consequence, but the self-funded retirees are now being hit with a double whammy. They now find that, due to the lack of provision of many entitlements given to pensioners, they are now actually worse off than pensioners. This policy needs to be redressed as a matter of urgency.
On education, there is now a rare opportunity to gain significant improvements in the education system, given this government’s vaunted position of being able to deal with the states in a cooperative manner. We currently have a crisis in education, where the age of teachers is increasing and fewer and fewer young people see teaching as a viable career option. Take my state of WA as a case in point: a teacher qualifies without any guarantee of employment. In the state system, a teacher cannot gain a permanent position until they have done eight consecutive years of teaching. Where does that leave these young teachers in terms of starting a family, buying a house and settling down? Teachers are professionals and we are not treating them as such. Is it any wonder that young people are choosing not to pursue teaching as a career? Worse than this is the fact that these young teachers can be told early in December the previous year where they will be teaching and then a week before commencing they are told they will be teaching somewhere entirely different.
Additionally, not only is teaching badly paid when consideration of qualifications is taken into account but also, in the case of annual contracts, young teachers only get paid from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year. In other words, they have no Christmas break income. The federal and state governments need to come together to ensure that teachers at public schools are better paid, have continuity and certainty of employment and are treated as professionals. The Labor Party, when in opposition, criticised the Howard government over private schools. Quite frankly, if I were a new teacher I would choose the private system for a whole variety of reasons, including those mentioned. In addition to greater security and recognition as professionals, they also have more wherewithal at their disposal to discipline children.
Cancer is a blight on society and there is a fantastic treatment that has recently received TGA approval. This treatment is known as proton beam therapy and it can be used for prostate cancer, lung cancer, paediatrics and head and neck cancers. This is used as a substitute for radiotherapy. The advantage that this treatment offers is that it very specifically targets the tumour in three dimensions, and the surrounding tissue damage, which can be significant with radiotherapy, is minimised. The next step is to obtain Medicare approval, but there is a fair financial burden associated with this. As such, I am calling on the government to provide some assistance. I also appeal to any people in private industry who are willing to provide funding, as a facility will cost over $100 million to build.
For an advanced nation like Australia to not have such facilities when they are already in use in Europe, Japan and the US is shameful. At present our children need to go overseas to obtain treatment. This is provided under Medicare. Adults who access this technology overseas need to pay tens of thousands of dollars. This situation must be corrected. I urge anyone that can help to contact my office and I can put them in contact with Sue Bleasel, the Director of Proton Therapy Australia.
The SPEAKER —Order! Before I call the member for Franklin, I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s first speech. I ask the House to extend to her the usual courtesies.