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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3152


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10:27): The Manager of Opposition Business considers himself some sort of funny man. Well he is funny but not for the reasons that he thinks he is funny. This amendment, of course, is a complete joke. If you read this amendment, the former Labor government is putting itself forward as a paragon of deregulation. Deregulation! This is a government that added over 21,000 additional regulations: a carbon tax and a mining tax. It was known to be an antibusiness government; a government that led to multifactor productivity decline—in free fall—over the past three years. And they have put forward an amendment today saying that the former Labor government has repealed 16,794 acts, regulations and legislative instruments. What a joke! And it is not a funny business. Deregulation and red tape are something that we in the coalition are passionate about because we know that with red tape reduction and deregulation comes productivity growth, jobs growth and better conditions for business—small, medium and large. It is not a funny business.

The Manager of Opposition Business might have a charming manner, but it is disingenuous to suggest that housekeeping is not important. This omnibus bill, as he well knows, contains many measures that are out of date and that need to be removed. But, also, there are specific example, some very small, that only affect very small sectors, but being small should not be a reason for government punishing you.

I will give some examples for the Manager of Opposition Business who, if he could stop laughing at his own jokes for a few minutes, might listen to these examples. Aged-care building certification at the federal level is being removed in this omnibus bill. This removes the requirement for duplicate requirements at the state level, saving aged-care providers $3.42 million in annual compliance savings. We know that in the Labor Party a million dollars is really like a few cents to them. They do not care about money. They do not have a value of money. They never have to earn money. They do not understand the inherent worth of a dollar. But saving the aged-care sector $3.42 million in duplicate requirements of red tape is no laughing matter. It is a serious business. And it is serious business of government to be deregulating, and deregulating these matters for these sectors.

In the environment, as part of this omnibus bill—Manager of Opposition Business, if he had finished watching reruns of the comedy hour in his office—the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989. No. 7, 1989 is amended to reduce the regulatory burden on low-volume importers. Yes, it has a minor impact of $420,000 in compliance costs. But if you are one of those small businesses or minor enterprises that struggle to compete against big business, that struggle to compete against previous Labor governments that do not understand the burden of doing business in this country and how tough it is when government does not understand them, that small saving is a big saving. The omnibus bill does contain real, viable measures for important sectors like the aged-care sector, companies importing in relation to the environment—these are just some of the examples I could give. I could give an even better example for the Manager of Opposition Business if he would stop practising his jokes in his office for a minute and stop smiling at himself in the mirror, thinking he is very clever. If he would stop that for one minute and read this bill, he would see that a big organisation, like Telstra, is also going to face significant regulatory reduction. That will mean that it will no longer have to provide 70,000 pages of contracts or store them—yes, he makes a joke about the spare room. Why do we require Telstra to provide every single page of that contract sent across? From now on, after this bill, they will just have to list these contracts to the ACCC and not provide all of that paperwork. Simple but important!

Every one of these measures, in the coalition's view, is important to reduce the red-tape and regulatory burden. I have no problem as a member of this government limiting my contribution to five minutes. I tell you why: we are interested in red-tape reduction and we want to get on with it. If there is no problem with this bill, then the opposition should say, 'Let's put this through,' and not move ridiculous amendments that try and make them out to be paragons of virtue in relation to red-tape reduction. Big business, small business, industry bodies and society in general would laugh at the contention that the last government were paragons of deregulation. In fact, the member for Grayndler boasted:

… the Government had passed 254 Bills through parliament compared to just 108 Bills in the first year of the Howard Government.

Absolutely disgraceful! They saw it as a boast—

Mr Dreyfus: Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would seek to know whether the member speaking is willing to give way under standing order 66(a).

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the member willing to yield?

Mr Hawke: No.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member is not willing to yield.

Mr HAWKE: I understand why the shadow minister seeks to intervene in my contribution. Today, however, is about deregulation and red-tape reduction. We are going to reduce our contributions in that spirit. I am very happy to do so, because we need to get this bill through so that business can get moving again and get the red-tape monkey off the back of small and medium enterprises in our country.