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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1468


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:25): I follow Senator Carr's hysterical and rather incoherent rant, and share with Senator Wong, quite frankly, that this is a very sad day. As a South Australian, it is a sad day to see 1,600 jobs at the Holden car plant disappear by 2017, and to see the flow-on effects that will no doubt impact on the South Australian economy.

But I have to say we were warned about this some time ago. Seven years ago in this place I stood up and I said that if Mr Kim Carr ever became industry minister, there would be no car industry in this country. And what followed was the full Chairman Mao outburst and rhetoric and 20 minutes of abuse about how I did not know what I was talking about. But Senator Carr himself has overseen for the past six years the closure of Mitsubishi and the announcement that Ford is going, and the legacy of his mismanagement, and the Labor Party's mismanagement, of the manufacturing industry in this country is the announcement by Holden today.

The tragedy of Senator Carr is that he suffers from veritaphobia. Veritaphobia is a fear of telling the truth, and this is what we have got on that side of the chamber. He will not acknowledge that his motivation and his interest in the motor vehicle industry were driven more by his factional powerbroking and his attempt to stifle the short cons in Victoria and by his desire to boost his faction ranks by unionising the workforce, giving them whatever they wanted to amass more union muscle for him. That was his interest. He was not interested in sustaining the industry as a whole; he was more interested in sustaining his union base. That is the power—the misuse and abuse of power—that we see from the other side of the chamber.

It is worth reflecting that after six years of Labor, we have $300 billion worth of debt in this country and nothing to show for it. No motor vehicle manufacturing industry.

Senator McEwen: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order going to relevance. The motion before the chair today is in relation to the automotive industry and the closure of Holden. I would ask you to bring the senator to the topic.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order, Senator McEwen.

Senator BERNARDI: It is amazing: Senator McEwen is following in Senator Moore's footsteps of baseless and useless points of order. Couldn't you hear, Senator McEwen, the fact that you squandered $300 billion—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: To the chair.

Senator BERNARDI: of borrowed money and we have no motor vehicle manufacturing industry to show for it. You might be proud of that legacy, but I certainly am not. Shame on you. You remained silent and forgotten through the entire years of the Labor government, and now you stand up here giving us pious rhetoric.

This is an opposition that is absolutely flawed, and it is so embarrassed by its own track record it is trying to blame others for its mismanagement. I have to say that I thought Senator Carr, with his fear of the truth, his veritaphobia, actually let something slip; he blurted out something during his question today. In one of the questions he asked he said the exit of Holden was 'tragic and unavoidable'. A true word is often spoken by a slip of the tongue, because Senator Carr presided over and saw all the inside nitty-gritty about the industry when he was industry minister and he put it in the too-hard basket. He said: 'No, I don't want to deal with this. I've borrowed $300 million on behalf of the Australian people, but I don't want to save their manufacturing industry.'

I am sick of the hypocrisy on the other side. We inherited a basket case of a budget. There is no doubt about that. We were elected to fix up the mess that Labor created; the legacy of Labor's six years, their torrent of abuse of office, is going to be with us for some time yet. Holden, unfortunately, is a casualty of that. There are 1,600 jobs going in my state of South Australia, and the flow-on effects are going to be felt for years and years to come. But the blame, fairly and squarely, lies with poor government management by the Labor Party over the last six years.

Senator Carr would have the people of Australia believe that somehow General Motors in Detroit last night just said: 'Let's shut down our South Australian and Victorian manufacturing facilities. Let's do that at a cost of some $600 million.' Unfortunately, we know the Labor Party is cavalier about $600 million, $1 billion and $100 billion, but General Motors are not. They would have been looking at and examining for many years the consequences and the potential costs. We know there are unavoidable issues attached to manufacturing in this country—the high dollar, the tyranny of distance, the relatively small market and so on—but Senator Carr and his cohorts in the Labor Party need to come clean and start telling the truth. (Time expired)