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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6788

Mr KATTER (9:25 PM) —The Trade Practices Amendment Bill 2009 seeks to provide protection to unions and their members from being sued if they stop the export of Pacific Brands manufacturing machinery or the importation of goods to replace Pacific Brands products. This protection is provided for secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage, secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial lessening of competition and boycotts affecting trade or commerce. The exception is restricted to circumstances where a government is negotiating with a company to protect jobs and would only allow for unions to be entitled to ban such imports for two years.

There is a notice of motion which should be read in conjunction with this bill. The notice of motion calls on the government, first, to introduce an emergency measure under WTO rules to provide an interim 15 per cent tariff on goods that are imported to replace TCFs—textiles, clothing and footwear—such as items produced by Pacific Brands; secondly, to abandon its intention to abolish the existing TCF tariff regime; and, thirdly, to finance a loan to allow Pacific Brands workers to purchase through salary-sacrificing arrangements a significant share issue made to provide the refinancing funds necessary to enable continued manufacturing by Pacific Brands in Australia.

I think it really is lamentable that an Independent has to move this legislation when a Labor government is in power in Australia. When the first parliament was brought together it was the Labor Party that joined with the anti-free-trade people to protect jobs here in Australia. When Mr Keating started on this regime I said to myself that if we removed all tariff protection in Australia only two things could happen: (1) we close down every industry in this country and (2) we go to the same wage structures as our competitor nations in Asia—which is working for a bowl of rice. They are the only two possibilities. I will be presenting legislation on the banana industry shortly, but if we expect people to fight for our banana industry then it is only right that we should fight for the manufacturing industries.

It is an extraordinary country when we simply sit in this place and preside over the complete abolition of all manufacturing in this country. I say to every single person that comes into this place that when you go to bed of a night and say your prayers just remember that you better confess that you were a party to the abolition of manufacturing in this country. The Prime Minister has said—and God bless him for saying it—that he does not want to be the Prime Minister of a country that has no manufacturing. I have got news for you, Mr Prime Minister: you are going to be the Prime Minister of a country that has no manufacturing. Somebody in this place should be doing something about it. As I said to my Independent colleague on my right here, if we are not doing it no-one else in this place is likely to, that is for certain. Every other country on earth has tariffs and other protections.

I conclude on a very specific note. I have bought Baxter shoes all of my life. People talk about RM Williams, but my family actually predates RM Williams and we were probably the first people to actually stock RM Williams in Australia. Baxter boots make elastic sided boots. I rang up the place to buy a pair of shoes because I could not find a pair anywhere and I said, ‘I am so pleased that you are still manufacturing.’ He said, ‘Don’t hold your breath, Bob, because next year we will have six people employed.’ Whether that has become a reality or not, I do not know. He said, ‘We cannot compete against the Chinese manufacturers.’ They had 126 employees when I rang him up. I said to him, ‘What actually precipitated your decision?’ and he said, ‘We had the contract for the shoes for the Army and it was taken off us and given to a Chinese company.’ (Time expired).

Bill read a first time.

The SPEAKER —In accordance with standing order 41(d), the second reading will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.