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Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Page: 4396

Senator BOSWELL (12:27 PM) —I listened very carefully to Senator Polley’s expose and diatribe on the car industry. Unfortunately, the speech was not about the car industry; it was a speech on the economy. She was repeating all the natural spin that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, Mr Swan, have been saying for the last three or four weeks. Where I see the Labor Party coming unstuck—and I have seen them come unstuck before—is that they do not know whether they are a green party that represents the green interests of Australia or a party that represents the unions and the workers. They are continually torn. Today we see it again.

Senator Hutchins —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Boswell is not talking about the luxury car tax at all. I ask you to remind him to refer to that.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Parry)—There is no point of order.

Senator BOSWELL —We have seen Doug Cameron, the unionist, rally and condemn the Labor Party and the coalition so much so that he drove Senator George Campbell out of office. When he came down he was going to play merry hell with a big stick. I would be interested to hear him say what he believes this luxury tax on the car industry is going to do to the workers of South Australia and the workers of Victoria. That was the platform he used to get into this place and he went right over the top of his colleague from the Left Senator Campbell. Senator Campbell was driven out of this place. You can run in this place but you cannot hide. This place will find you out. You can talk one way but, in the end, you have got to face the music.

You do not have to be Einstein, you do not have to be a student of the car industry and you do not even have to live in South Australia or Victoria to know the car industry is doing it tough. It is doing it immensely tough as we allow cars to come in from overseas. We see the sales of Ford and GMH go down. They are in a critical mess. If they lose anything more, they are going to be in real trouble.

The car industry has begged the Labor Party and the two Independents not to go down this path. Senator Fielding is just walking in here and, presumably, he will have some structure to try and get around this. But I say to Senator Fielding: whatever you do, whatever your amendment is, it is not going to get the car industry out of trouble. I was just saying before you walked in, Senator Fielding, and will repeat it for you, that the car industry in South Australia and Victoria is in terrible trouble. They are losing sales hand over fist to imports. This could be the tipping point for them.

The car industry has begged the Labor Party—I assume they have spoken to Senator Fielding and Senator Xenophon; I do not know. We cannot go around this issue with amendments. The amendments are not going to address the problem. If the Labor Party people are concerned about jobs in the car industry, they cannot have it both ways. They have to support the workers and the unionists who pay their fees to the Labor Party, the unionists who work hard 38 or 40 hours a week and then pay the $400-$500 to the Labor Party. What are they getting out of this? They are going to lose their jobs—some of them are going to be put off. You are not going to be able to pass this without having a result. The complication will be that you are going to lose a lot of good unionists that support the Labor Party.

I do not know how you can do this. I do not know how Senator Carr can sit here and let this sort of legislation go through. I do not know what he does in cabinet. Doesn’t he put his hand up and say, ‘If this happens, the repercussions of this will be so many jobs lost’? An industry minister is supposed to say, ‘If we are going to import more of these little roadsters, these imported sports cars, we are going to put our good unionists out of work.’

There is another aspect to this piece of legislation. Approximately eight, nine or 10 years ago the National Party lost two wives in car accidents. And then John Anderson’s wife spun the car over seven times. She was very fortunate and she and the kids got out of it. Tim Fisher had an accident, and two people were killed. The Labor Party at the time, to their credit, said: ‘We do not want any more of this. People with huge electorates have to have cars that are safe, and we will let them drive four-wheel drives.’ That is what you are going to take away from all the people in the bush—the right to drive safely in a car that has got a bit of substance under it. For the two reasons: safety and workers, I urge the Senate to drop this bill like a hotcake.