- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
- Parl No.
- Question No.
Brown, Sen Carol
- System Id
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsDownload Current Hansard View/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- LEAVE OF ABSENCE
- NATIVE TITLE AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 1) 2010
TRANSPORT SAFETY INVESTIGATION AMENDMENT (INCIDENT REPORTS) BILL 2010
WATER (CRISIS POWERS AND FLOODWATER DIVERSION) BILL 2010
FOOD STANDARDS AMENDMENT (TRUTH IN LABELLING—PALM OIL) BILL 2010
- FAIR WORK AMENDMENT (PAID PARENTAL LEAVE) BILL 2010
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION (BEVERAGE CONTAINER DEPOSIT AND RECOVERY SCHEME) BILL 2010
DEFENCE AMENDMENT (PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL OF OVERSEAS SERVICE) BILL 2010
SPECIAL BROADCASTING SERVICE AMENDMENT (PROHIBITION OF DISRUPTIVE ADVERTISING) BILL 2010
STOLEN GENERATIONS REPARATIONS TRIBUNAL BILL 2010
FOOD SAFETY (TRANS FATS) BILL 2010
COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL (ABOVE-THE-LINE VOTING) AMENDMENT BILL 2010
NATIONAL INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER BILL 2010
PLEBISCITE FOR AN AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC BILL 2010
BANKING AMENDMENT (DELIVERING ESSENTIAL FINANCIAL SERVICES) BILL 2010
PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING (BROADCASTING AMENDMENT) BILL 2010
ALCOHOL TOLL REDUCTION BILL 2010
DRINK CONTAINER RECYCLING BILL 2010
RESPONSIBLE TAKEAWAY ALCOHOL HOURS BILL 2010
- MINING TAXATION
- ASYLUM SEEKERS
- AUSTRALIAN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION COMMISSION
- KIMBERLEY LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS PRECINCT
- ANGELA PAMELA URANIUM MINE
- UNITED NATIONS PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
- MONTARA COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
- FOOD LABELLING
- LIBERAL PARTY OF AUSTRALIA AND THE NATIONALS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Abetz, Sen Eric, Evans, Sen Chris)
(Hurley, Sen Annette, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Cormann, Sen Mathias, Wong, Sen Penny)
Green Start Program
(Milne, Sen Christine, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Brandis, Sen George, Evans, Sen Chris (Leader of the Government in the Senate), Evans, Sen Chris)
(Brown, Sen Carol, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
Wild Rivers Legislation
(Scullion, Sen Nigel, Evans, Sen Chris)
Financial Institutions: Fees and Charges
(Xenophon, Sen Nick, Sherry, Sen Nick)
(Bernardi, Sen Cory, Evans, Sen Chris)
(Moore, Sen Claire, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
- Parliamentary Practice
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- ADVISORY COUNCIL ON AUSTRALIAN ARCHIVES
- EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME
- MINING TAXATION
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Senator CAROL BROWN (10:54 AM) —It gives me great pleasure to rise today to make my contribution to the address-in-reply to Her Excellency the Governor-General’s speech given at the opening of the 43rd Parliament. The opening of the 43rd Parliament signals a new era in Australian politics. On 21 August 2010, the Australian people delivered a hung parliament, a result we have not seen in 70 years. Indeed, the opening of the 43rd Parliament, whilst being historic because of the makeup of the new parliament, was also historic for a number of other reasons. For the first time in Australia’s history, the opening of the parliament was conducted by the first female Governor-General in our country’s history. And, as Her Excellency Quentin Bryce made mention of on Tuesday, it was also a historic opening of parliament because Australia’s first female Governor-General opened the parliament led by Australia’s first female Prime Minister. It was particularly pleasing to note that on this occasion we not only had a female Governor-General and a female Prime Minister but a female Clerk of the Senate—a fine sight indeed.
As we entered this new era of minority government we also had a number of other historic events occurring at the opening of the 43rd Parliament. We have the first Indigenous member of the other place, with Mr Ken Wyatt elected to the seat of Hasluck. We also have the first person of Muslim faith elected to parliament, with Mr Ed Husic being sworn in as the member for Chifley. We also have Mr Wyatt Roy, who—in being elected as the member for Longman—is the youngest person ever elected to the Australian parliament. Every time these historic firsts occur, we see our parliament become more inclusive, more representative and more reflective of our society.
In August, when the Australian people delivered a hung parliament, it presented us with an opportunity for this new parliament, the 43rd Parliament, to be built upon an effort of renewed cooperation. The Australian people have made their wishes clear; they have exercised their democratic right. It is now our job to make this parliament work. It is now the responsibility of every member in this place and the other place to ensure we deliver stable and effective government for the people of Australia.
As the Governor-General outlined, the government will quickly implement new measures to enhance the dignity and effectiveness of this legislature, including a more effective question time, a stronger committee system and greater scope for private members’ bills. The government will also deliver the creation of the Parliamentary Budget Office and the new Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner, as well as other better government improvements, including open and accountable government improvements, further steps on improving the democratic operation of the parliament, electoral funding improvements and truth in political advertising improvements. It will also deliver many other changes to the way business is conducted in the other place. It is hoped that these parliamentary reforms will help to increase the robust nature of our parliament, not just during this term but also as we move into the future—although it is disappointing that those opposite have already walked away from one aspect of the reform agreement by refusing to pair the Speaker.
I am pleased that Ms Gillard was able to reach an agreement to receive support from the Independents so that she would be able to continue in her capacity as the Prime Minister of Australia and so that the Australian Labor Party would continue to govern the country.
Shortly after coming to office, we faced the greatest economic downtown in 70 years. The Labor government acted quickly by implementing a range of short-, medium- and long-term stimulus measures to cushion the Australian economy from the worst effects of the global recession. At a time when the economies of many G20 countries were suffering from the global financial crisis, the Australian economy, under the support of our stimulus measures, was performing remarkably well in comparison. Our stimulus measures provided short-term investment to immediately support our economy. We also made significant investment in infrastructure as part of our stimulus package to deliver a longer term effect on the Australian economy as well as to provide a boost to vital infrastructure and to increase productivity.
The success of these measures can be seen through the relatively low impact the global financial crisis had on our economy. Our unemployment remained at relatively low levels and our economy was one of the very few advanced economies not to fall into recession. We have managed to keep unemployment below six per cent, and recently we saw some more encouraging news with the unemployment rate dipping to 5.1 per cent. These figures showed that over 53,000 full-time jobs were created in August. In fact, as the Treasurer highlighted, of the 349,000 jobs created in the last 12 months, over three quarters have been full-time positions. The Treasurer recently also made mention of the fact that we have created over 560,000 jobs since coming to office in November 2007. As we move forward into our second term the government has maintained our fiscally responsible spending caps in upcoming budgets and also made significant savings measures to ensure that we return the budget to surplus in 2012-13, three years ahead of schedule.
The government will also look to increase productivity and deliver growth to the Australian economy through a number of other significant economic reforms. During this term we also plan to advance our minerals resource rent tax into legislation by undertaking close consultations with the industry and members of the parliament. We will also hold a tax summit by the middle of next year to re-examine the Henry tax review and wider tax reform.
In this term of government we will begin to implement our commitment to increase the rate of superannuation guarantee from nine per cent to 12 per cent. This will give workers access to greater levels of savings when they choose to retire, providing them with greater financial security whilst also reducing the pressure placed on the government’s age pension.
To help drive Australia’s economy in the future the government has begun to deliver Australia’s largest ever infrastructure project—the $43 billion National Broadband Network, which will connect over 90 per cent of Australian homes and businesses to broadband speeds of up to one gigabyte per second. As we have already announced, the remaining premises will be connected via state-of-the-art wireless and satellite technologies. For too long Australia has lagged behind the world in terms of broadband penetration and speeds. We cannot continue to operate like this. That is why we are building the National Broadband Network. The NBN will offer opportunities for Australian businesses to capitalise on the digital revolution to help drive productivity and increase growth. The NBN will also become vitally important in the progression of e-health and the delivery of new-age digital education.
Already in my home state of Tasmania we have begun rolling out the NBN. The most recent announcement of the NBN rollout was stage 3. This is a $100 million investment in Tasmania which will connect 90,000 premises in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. This is on top of the already announced stage 1 and 2 rollouts in Tasmania, where the residents of Smithton, Scottsdale, Midway Point, Sorell, Deloraine, George Town, St Helens, Triabunna, Kingston Beach and South Hobart will be the first in the state to benefit from increased broadband speeds of the fibre-to-premises rollout. Indeed, services have already been delivered in a number of these towns, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy visited Tasmania to switch on the first customer to the NBN.
The NBN is receiving strong support from a range of organisations, including the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tasmanian Small Business Council, who see the benefits of the National Broadband Network in Tasmania. I look forward to the continued rollout of the NBN, not only in Tasmania but also around the rest of the country, as it will support 25,000 jobs over its eight-year construction life.
Our nation-building agenda does not stop with the NBN. We have set about implementing the largest school modernisation program in our country’s history—the Building the Education Revolution program—which will provide our children with the best environment in which to learn, and will support local jobs and local communities. The BER program has delivered the refurbishment of school classrooms and school grounds as well as the construction of new school halls, libraries, science laboratories and classrooms. In fact, the BER program is a $15 billion program delivering 24,000 projects in 9,500 schools around Australia.
We have initiated the process of establishing a national curriculum to ensure that all students are learning from the same course and achieving the best learning outcomes possible. For the first time, some 80,000 students who move interstate each year will not have to learn a new curriculum. A draft curriculum has been developed by experts and has been trialled around the country by 150 schools in the hope of implementing the new nationwide curriculum next year.
As we look to the future, with a Prime Minister who is so passionately committed to education, the Labor government still has a number of significant education reforms to implement as part of this term of government. We will look to empower local school principals and communities to make decisions on how to deliver the best quality and effectiveness at their schools. We will recognise and reward schools who improve their attendance and student performance and we will also identify and reward the very best classroom teachers through a national system of performance. The Labor government will continue to construct trade training centres, which are extremely effective and well received in local communities.
The government is also implementing a range of social policy initiatives to help parents with cost of living expenses. We have delivered three lots of income tax cuts targeted at low- and middle-income earners. The childcare rebate has been increased by the Labor government from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. Also, the government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme—a reform measure close to my heart—will commence on the 1 January 2011. This is a historic scheme which indeed has been a long time coming. This scheme is a big win for women and men on low incomes because for the first time eligible women will receive 18 weeks of paid parental leave at the federal minimum wage. Around 30,000 working families on incomes of less than $50,000 are expected to benefit from our Paid Parental Leave scheme.
During the election campaign, we had some more pleasing news in relation to this policy, with the Prime Minister announcing that, from 1 July 2012, eligible fathers will receive a fortnight’s paternity leave at the federal minimum wage. This will give many dads who would normally not get the opportunity for paid leave, the chance to spend quality time with their new born child. We have waited too long for this scheme and I am pleased that a Labor government has implemented this important reform.
Also announced as part of our election commitments, the government will extend the education tax refund to cover the cost of school uniforms. And, finally, we will increase family support payments by up to $4,000 a year for teenagers who are in enrolled in school or vocational training.
The Australian government has taken a leading role in the campaign to reduce violence against women. We established a National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. The council’s task was to provide advice on the development of an evidence based national plan. In April 2009 the council formally presented the government with five documents and in response the government has delivered a number of funding initiatives to support the prevention of violence against women. The government also actively marked the annual White Ribbon Day—the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women each November.
As part of the government’s 10-year national disability strategy we have asked the Productivity Commission to examine a range of options and consider whether a no-fault social insurance approach to disability is appropriate for Australia. The Productivity Commission inquiry is an important opportunity for us to examine how we support people with a disability and their families and carers.
Also, this term will see the government roll out its historic health and hospital reform package. The package agreed upon with the states, except WA, earlier this year will deliver some of the most significant changes to the Australian health system since the introduction of Medicare.
As part of our health reforms we will end the blame game between the states and the Commonwealth by establishing a single unified National Health and Hospitals Network. This will deliver better health services and better hospitals for all Australians. Whilst the Commonwealth government will take a majority funding responsibility for public hospitals, hospitals will be run locally and will have to meet national standards whilst also publishing accurate local performance reports.
The historic new reforms will deliver more doctors and nurses, expand the GP superclinic rollout, deliver more subacute hospital beds, cap emergency department waiting times and provide GP after-hours hotlines so people can receive health advice on weekends or late at night. We will increase elective surgery places to ensure that more elective surgery procedures are delivered on time. We will deliver an increase in aged-care places.
As agreed upon at COAG, we will implement Australia’s largest ever preventative health strategy and implement an e-health record system to make it easier for doctors to track a patient’s medical history so they can provide the very best possible medical care. We will also be instigating a mental health package to tackle the increased rates of suicide in society.
We have asked the Productivity Commission to investigate and develop options for how the aged-care sector might be reformed to meet the needs of the population. The commission is due to release its draft report in December 2010 and to present its final report to government in April 2011. The Prime Minister has nominated aged care as a priority for reform in the second term of the Gillard government. As someone who has a strong interest in this area, I look forward to working with the Prime Minister and the new Minister for Ageing, Mr Mark Butler, on this after the government receives the Productivity Commission’s report and the consultations that will flow from that report. If the government and all members of the sector do not grab this chance for reform in the aged-care sector, then it could be years before we get another opportunity. The government sees the delivery of the Productivity Commission report as the beginning of serious reform effort.
The government is also intent on developing a more inclusive society as part of our next term agenda. Around five per cent of working-age citizens experience multiple forms of disadvantage. Our second term in government will focus on ensuring that as the economy grows we will overcome entrenched disadvantage so that fewer people are left behind.
The Labor Party has always accepted the science that climate change is real and that action needs to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have introduced a range of measures focussed on renewable energy and measures to tackle climate change, including the expansion of the renewable energy target by four times, to 20 per cent. This means the equivalent of all household electricity will come from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar.
We have made a significant investment in renewable energy technology—the largest ever investment in renewable energy—and we will see the development of wind, solar, geothermal and other clean energy sources. This will help to ensure that Australia invests in the industries of the future, like renewable energy, and in jobs using new technologies, creating new areas of investment and the market for new low-pollution jobs. We have invested in clean coal to develop world-leading carbon capture and storage technology. We have also committed support for energy efficiency measures to help households and businesses cut their energy bills and reduce their emissions.
We have announced the formation of the new Climate Change Committee. The Climate Change Committee will be chaired by the Prime Minister. Other members will include the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Wayne Swan; the Minister for Climate Change, Mr Greg Combet, who will serve as deputy chair of the committee; Australian Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown; and Australian Greens deputy leader, Senator Christine Milne, who will serve as co-deputy chair. I understand that Mr Tony Windsor is keen to join the committee and the government has invited the coalition to provide two representatives for the committee. The committee will also be made up of four independent experts—Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Will Steffen, Mr Rod Sims and Ms Patricia Faulkner—as well as receiving support from a secretaries’ group, comprising the secretaries of departments involved in implementing climate change policy. I look forward to all members of the Climate Change Committee working constructively and effectively together, working out the best way to take action on climate change.
Over the previous decade under the watch of the Howard government we saw the nation’s infrastructure suffer from severe underinvestment. Upon entering office the Labor government immediately set about rectifying this situation by investing in the infrastructure Australia needs. By doing so we began to tackle the infrastructure bottlenecks which had developed and which were significantly affecting our nation’s productivity. Under our nation-building infrastructure plan we set about upgrading the nation’s roads, rail and port infrastructure, with significant investment right around Australia. Investment in infrastructure will continue in our second term.
We will also deliver a renewed focus on regional Australia’s infrastructure needs. Already, 60 per cent of the government’s nation-building infrastructure funding has been allocated to regional Australia. We have also announced the $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund which will also be allocated to regional Australia, significantly increasing the funding available to regional Australia. Building upon these measures we will also have a regional priorities round, worth up to $500 million, from the Education Investment Fund, which regional universities and TAFEs will have access to.
As we move to our second term, I look forward to being a member of the Labor government, a government which has clear policy objectives to improve our country and the lives of the people who live here. It will not be easy—the new minority government paradigm presents us with a new set of tasks—but I am hopeful that in this new era of cooperative government those opposite will not become a political wrecking ball. We need to work together to deliver stable and effective government. The parliament we are faced with is the will of the people, and it is our responsibility to make it work for their benefit.