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Thursday, 13 September 2007
Page: 147

Senator RONALDSON (4:23 PM) —I walked in here and saw Senator Carr with his prepared speech and the lectern and I thought that we were finally going to hear something from Senator Carr in relation to Labor’s industry policy. About the only thing that I gleaned from his speech was that, while he was attacking the government’s commitment to manufacturing, he spent about a minute talking about a number of successful manufacturing exporters who have been exporting successfully under the auspices of this government. What an extraordinary way to attack the government—by talking about the government’s successes! In 20 minutes, did we hear one thing from the Australian Labor Party about a policy? Did we hear one word from Senator Carr about what the Labor Party’s policy will be? We did not.

I will take the chamber to a quote from Doug Cameron on 24 April 2005 regarding the China free trade agreement. This was a time when I think Senator Carr was the shadow minister. Doug Cameron said:

If you’ve got a policy, if you’ve got values, if you’ve got principles, why don’t Labor stand up for them? And this is the problem of Labor over the last 12 years. They don’t simply have any values and principles that manufacturing workers can see.

That was Doug Cameron talking about one of his own. I would have thought that there would be some factional alliance there, wouldn’t there—loosely or very tightly?

Senator Brandis interjecting—

Senator RONALDSON —I would be surprised?

Senator Brandis —He knocked off Senator Campbell.

Senator RONALDSON —Yes, that is right, but we will not talk about that. Poor Senator Campbell. So, in April 2005, Doug Cameron, who will be Senator Cameron, actually nailed you, Senator Carr, in relation to your lack of policy. The soon-to-be Senator Cameron will be absolutely devastated with your speech today—platitudes and no policy. They are incapable of forming a policy.

Senator Nash —They don’t have any.

Senator Brandis —That’s not true, Senator Nash; they have all our policies.

Senator RONALDSON —That is right. Indeed, these centres that Senator Carr is bandying around as some new policy—a $500 million policy—just replicate our productivity centres. So at least the Labor Party is consistent. At least Senator Carr is consistent. The Labor Party actually take everything—and we have just had further confirmation of that. Rather than the claptrap that we heard earlier, I will give the chamber some of the actual statistics in relation to manufacturing. Senator Carr, if you get out your pen and jot some of these statistics down, I think you will be a lot wiser at the end of this 20 minutes.

Senator Brandis —Maybe not wiser, but better informed.

Senator RONALDSON —That is right. That is probably a better way of putting it. I want to go through some of the key manufacturing statistics, so get your pen ready, Senator Carr. You are just sitting there looking a bit glum—though I can understand that. When you are without policy, you would look as glum as you look, my friend.

For the manufacturing industry, value-adding in 2006-07 was a record $98 billion in real terms, representing 10.3 per cent of GDP. Total manufactured exports rose by $10.2 billion in 2006-07 to reach a record $85.3 billion. If you want the source of these statistics, Senator Carr, just ring my office afterwards and I am sure they will be happy to help you. Over the same period, exports of elaborately transformed manufactures, or ETMs as they are otherwise called, rose by nearly $1.7 billion to reach $28.5 billion. Capital expenditure on investment in manufacturing capacity is running at record levels, having risen at an annual rate of 3.3 per cent from 1996 to 2006 to now be $14.4 billion per annum. In the financial year 2005-06, research and development in the manufacturing sector represented almost 39 per cent of Australia’s total business expenditure on R&D, with total expenditure increasing by 12 per cent to a record of almost $3.9 billion.

As Senator Carr travels around the country, he is simply not being truthful about this. Despite what Senator Carr has been saying, manufacturing exports have increased by an average rate of 5.2 per cent since May 1996. Senator Carr is the same shadow minister whose party over some 13 or 14 years sat around idly while 40,000 manufacturing jobs in this country were lost. In the last quarter there were 22,000 jobs created in the manufacturing sector. I am disappointed that Senator Carr is leaving the chamber.

Senator Brandis —He cannot bear to hear this.

Senator RONALDSON —It is very disappointing. There may of course be a good reason for that, Senator Brandis. His colleague Senator Conroy in May 2005—around the same time as the Doug Cameron quote that we were talking about earlier—said, ‘For sheer breathtaking hypocrisy, it is hard to match my good friend and Senate colleague Kim Carr.’ We know that he had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he was talking about Senator Carr being a good friend!

I want to now turn to some of the matters we are addressing in relation to certain sectors. For example, in the textile, clothing and footwear sector, we have $1.4 billion through a long-term industry plan. In relation to the automotive sector, there is a comprehensive package. As you would know, Mr Acting Deputy President, this sector is facing some challenges at the moment. But, having said that, let me say that the automotive sector is achieving some very positive results. In 2005-06 automotive exports reached a record $5.2 billion, including $1.76 billion in components exports and $3.44 billion in vehicle exports. In 1990, under federal Labor, the percentage of local production exported was seven per cent. I want my colleagues to listen to this: seven per cent was the percentage of local production exported in 1990. In contrast, under the Howard-Costello government, the percentage of local production exported in 2006 was 38 per cent.

Our Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme continues to provide the long-term security that is required by industry. We are providing more than $7 billion through to 2015 to help the automotive industry become internationally competitive. It is the largest assistance program in the history of the industry. On top of that, as honourable members will be aware, and indeed as a result of the hard work of the member for Corangamite and the Liberal Party candidate for Corio, Angelo Kakouros, the federal government stepped in to assist the workers at Ford. This was done in a variety of ways, but part of this was a $52.5 million grant for Ford Australia to enable it to develop the next generation Falcon, and a $6.7 million grant with maximum funding provided by the Victorian and South Australian governments for Holden to produce safety and fuel management improvements. There is also a $7.2 million supplier capability development program as part of the ACIS package. The federal government stepped in. My understanding is that nearly $20 million was put into Ford in Geelong to assist the workers down there. The government is quite rightly proud of that, and Mr Stewart McArthur and Mr Angelo Kakouros should take great credit for it.

I want to now turn to probably the most extraordinary part of Senator Carr’s platitudinous speech. In May this year the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Mr Macfarlane, released this government’s industry statement, titled Global integration: changing markets, new opportunities. The industry statement provides $1.4 billion, which is money on the table—no platitudes, as we saw from Senator Carr, the great interventionist. When he was reappointed as shadow minister for industry, horror was expressed in the financial pages of this country’s press. Senator Carr is industry’s living nightmare. Industry, rather than welcoming him—as he tried to convince this chamber today that it did—is actually scared stiff of this man being industry minister.

I want to go through and detail the extent of the $1.4 billion package that the industry minister and the Prime Minister released in May. It is about strengthening the policy platform for Australian industry. It is about ensuring that the strength of industry and manufacturing in the sector is both retained and expanded. I will go through it now. The package includes $254.1 million for the Global Opportunities program, which will help Australian firms win work in global supply chains and major projects. So what do we hear from Senator Carr? We hear that nothing has been done to encourage Australian exporters and manufacturers. He has already died on his own sword, because he made that comment and then detailed, obviously to impress someone somewhere, an example of very successful exporters. Why you would attack the government and then talk about successful exporters is quite frankly beyond me, but he managed to do it. The package also contains continued support through Austrade for export opportunities arising from the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, and $351.8 million for Australian industry productivity centres, which will help firms review their business performance and capitalise on new market opportunities. Senator Carr’s only policy was to come out with some convoluted program that he tried to differentiate from the government’s. But, when you look at it, you will see that the program he is putting in place is just a direct replica. So, with his apparent convoluted process, if you get down to it, he is just repeating what the government is doing. Why he would be talking about wasting $500 million when they will already be in place is beyond me.

There is $90.3 million for the Commercial Ready Plus program, which will encourage additional research and development in small firms; $20.1 million over five years to encourage technology transfer through the new Intermediary Access Program; $21.5 million over four years for the development of a National Nanotechnology Strategy; $36.2 million over four years to develop niche manufacturing industries based on nanotechnology; $89.2 million over 10 years to develop and maintain an online registration system for both the Australian business number and state and territory business names; $14.3 million over two years to extend the Building Entrepreneurship in Small Business program for another year; and $54.2 million over four years to support R&D in the food-processing sector.

This is a government that has delivered. This is a government that is committed to the manufacturing sector. This is a government that is committed to Australian industry. The statistics I read out before are proof of the success of that. What do we have as an alternative? Possibly two months out from an election, we have a shadow minister with a prize opportunity to talk for 20 minutes on his own motion—with a lectern and a prepared speech—about what the Australian Labor Party will be doing for the manufacturing sector if they are elected to government. The best he could give us was about 60 seconds. As I said before, he was repeating policy that he lifted directly from this government.

I have already mentioned Doug Cameron’s view of Senator Carr. In 2005, when Senator Carr was the shadow minister—just in case someone has switched on their telly—Doug Cameron said:

If you’ve got a policy, if you’ve got values, if you’ve got principles, why don’t Labor stand up for them? And this is the problem of Labor over the last 12 years. They don’t simply have any values and principles that manufacturing workers can see.

This was a direct whack at the then shadow minister, Senator Carr. I think he was the shadow minister under that other extraordinary success of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Latham. I think Mr Beazley might have dropped Senator Carr and then, quite remarkably, Mr Rudd brought him back in. Speaking of remarkable occurrences, I would like to quote from some very enlightening newspaper articles about this time. On 12 December 2006 an article in the Canberra Times said:

The decision to allocate industry to the socialist left’s Kim Carr is also baffling. Though he has experience of the portfolio (under Crean and Latham), Carr has hardly distinguished himself as a thinker or an effective media and parliamentary performer—

Ain’t that the truth! We had another example of that today—20 minutes of that. The article continued:

… qualities which will be crucial to winning support for Rudd’s plan to save Australia’s manufacturing base.

Indeed, his reputation as an ideologue has already ensured Carr will get a cool reception from peak employer and industry bodies.

Senator Brandis —Who said that?

Senator RONALDSON —This is the Canberra Times, not always known for its support of this—

Senator Brandis —You know what John Cain said about Senator Carr, don’t you?

Senator RONALDSON —I don’t actually, but I would very interested to hear what he said.

Senator Brandis —In his memoirs he said that Senator Carr, when a political adviser, single-handedly destroyed the Kirner government.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lightfoot)—Senators, when you have finished your private conversation perhaps Senator Ronaldson would like to address his comments through the chair.

Senator RONALDSON —I would normally be reluctant to take interjections, Mr Acting Deputy President, but there was an interjection and I thought it would be rude to interrupt the minister at the table.

Sinclair Davidson from RMIT University said in the Age on 12 December 2006:

The appointment of Senator Kim Carr of the Victorian Socialist Left to the shadow industry portfolio needs to be seen in this light. Nobody has ever accused “Kim il Carr” of market fundamentalism. Indeed, he has been an implacable foe of all things “market”.

…            …            …

Rudd is promising a new direction in industry policy—not the discredited industry policy that leads to high tariffs, protectionism, and hidden taxes on consumers. So while Rudd is telling us that tariffs are discredited, he is reappointing the man who campaigned for that very policy at the last election.

We have a couple of people there who are great supporters of Mr Latham—Senator Carr and, of course, Senator Faulkner, the National President of the Australian Labor Party, who we know is very, very close to the disgraced Mr Latham.

In the Australian of 13 December 2006, Alan Wood said:

Then we come to senator Kim Il Carr, as his colleagues call him (after North Korea’s erratic leader). Carr is Rudd’s new Shadow minister for industry, actually another political retread from Latham’s shadow ministry, where he held the same shadow portfolio.

In those days Labor’s manufacturing policy was all about big handouts of taxpayers’ money to industry, a 10-year plan for manufacturing and similar paraphernalia of government interventionism.

So far Rudd has spent most of his time telling us what his promised new policy for manufacturing isn’t. It isn’t about tariff protection, it isn’t about picking winners, it isn’t about industry welfare, and so on. What is it about?

I am afraid that Alan Wood will be none the wiser after Senator Carr’s performance in this chamber today. I repeat: two months out from an election he had 20 minutes—with his lectern and with a prepared speech—to tell the Australian people what the Australian Labor Party will do for manufacturing if they are elected to government. It was a wasted opportunity. It was an appalling speech. (Time expired)