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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18464


Mr CAUSLEY (7:39 PM) —I want to make a few comments about the debate that has been taking place this week, particularly with regard to Manildra. While I understand politics and have been around politics for a long time, the unfortunate part about this debate is that an Australian company that has very deep roots in rural New South Wales is being attacked unmercifully by the Labor Party. As many speakers have said today, Manildra is not just involved in ethanol. Manildra is a company that, as its name implies, started from the small township of Manildra in central New South Wales. It has involvement not just in ethanol but also in starch, flour and the sugar refinery on the North Coast of New South Wales. The thing that disturbs me most about this political attack that has been taking place, obviously to try to denigrate the Prime Minister, is that it is having widespread repercussions in country New South Wales. I am afraid that the Labor Party will be well remembered in country New South Wales for some of their efforts in this particular area.

As I have said, the sugar industry of northern New South Wales depends upon this company—it owns 50 per cent of the refinery up there. With regard to the flour industry, I think it was said today that Manildra buys one million tonnes of wheat a year. This is a substantial Australian company that has a very big influence on the affairs and also the economy of rural New South Wales. I would hope that the Labor Party take some note of this because, obviously in their simple politics that they are playing at the present time, they have forgotten that there are many areas of Australia that will suffer in this effort.

I note that the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald have bought into this debate, and I have read with interest some of the comments of the reporters from those newspapers. It seems to me that, as usual on some of these issues, these newspapers and the Labor Party are taking the side of big business in this debate, where it is said, `Yes, we should be able to import some of these products at cheap prices,' but they have no idea of the effects that this might have on industries across Australia. It seems to me quite a contradiction in terms that the Labor Party, who are supposed to support the workers of Australia, are in fact advocating that we should export jobs to Brazil. I have been to Brazil; I have seen some of the governance of that country. When I was there three years ago, the wages in Brazil were $A600 a month and two per cent of the population in Brazil controlled 85 per cent of the GDP.

Are the Labor Party really putting forward that that is what they want to do? Do they want to support a country, which is also subsidising ethanol in their country, to come into Australia, to attack the jobs of Australians and to attack the rural areas of Australia which rely on the support of these industries? It is a very serious situation and I really think that the Labor Party should look very closely at what they are doing at the present time. It seems to me that the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald are quite happy to have peons in rural Australia and to go out there with this ideological bent, which is to support big business and their theory that they should be able to import cheap products, regardless of the fact that they are exploiting workers in other countries and are, of course, getting the subsidy from that country as well.

I really do believe that the Labor Party have gone down a track in this particular instance for which they will be well remembered for many years in rural New South Wales in particular. The workers of Australia should remember this attack as well, because obviously they are supporting the fact that people in Brazil, who are exploited for cheap wages, get the consideration of the Australian Labor Party, and not the workers here in Australia.