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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17455

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (11:47 AM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, for the record: the budget announcements show that as a result of the Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme Bill 2003 the government have not maintained the same benefits for all previous recipients under the energy credits system. That is the budget announcement. If they had wanted, they could have excluded the benefits being given to overseas shipping operators. The budget announcements effectively mean that they have now brought in a differential system. A circle has been put around primary industry, which is to receive special benefits over and above the benefits applicable to road, forestry and mining—to name a few industries that actually receive benefits under this bill. If there is discretion to actually change the nature of benefits delivered to different industries that have previously received the benefits of the energy credits system, then the government could have easily, if they so chose, denied the continuation of the benefits to overseas shipping operators. That is effectively the decision of the budget this year. When the regulations become available—and they will be subject to scrutiny in the Senate—there is no doubt that this will be reflected, because that is what the Treasurer clearly intended by his budget announcements this year.

With regard to jobs, the parliamentary secretary would be well advised to actually speak to Australian workers involved in road and rail transport at the moment, especially along the east-west corridor. People who have long been employed in those industries are now losing their jobs because of the benefits given to foreign shipping companies under this bill. I will be telling them in no uncertain terms that it is the Howard government's fault that they have lost their jobs. The Energy Grants Credits Scheme reinforces the Howard government's lack of desire to actually help them—fellow Australians, taxpayers, small business operators—to keep their jobs in Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Wilkie)—The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

Question agreed to.