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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1226


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (17:01): I speak in support of the Customs Amendment (Anti-Dumping Commission) Bill 2013. Please!—the member for Indi claims that she is a friend of the manufacturing sector and the workers who work in it. She is a person, on that side of the House, who voted dozens of times for Work Choices to be imposed in that sector. If she was on this side of the chamber she would rip away the schoolkids bonus so that manufacturing workers would struggle to educate their children. She would raise their taxes. She would take away the family tax benefit increase and she would take away, from the parents of the manufacturing sector workers, their pension rises. So, the member for Indi should not come into this place and tell us that she is a friend of the manufacturing workers.

What support did the coalition give us in relation to the $300 million steel transformation plant which supports investment in steel manufacturing? They opposed it. They opposed the $5.4 billion new car plant. They opposed the $1 billion clean technology program. I spoke in this chamber in relation to 2,000 workers in my area who work in the manufacturing sector at JBS Australia, the meat processing plant. The coalition opposes the assistance that we are providing. The member for Indi has come into this place pretending to be—posing as—a friend of the workers. Please! Give us a break!

This legislation that is before this chamber is an important reform, and it responds to the Productivity Commission recommendations and analysis in relation to dumping. According to the Productivity Commission:

Dumping is said to occur when an overseas supplier exports a good to Australia at a price below its ‘normal value’ in the supplier’s home market. If dumping causes, or threatens to cause, material injury to local producers of like goods, then remedial action—mainly the imposition of special customs duties—can be taken against the imported goods concerned.

Similarly, countervailing duties can be imposed on imports which benefit from certain subsidies from an overseas government and which cause or threaten injury to a local industry producing like goods.

Similarly, countervailing duties can be imposed on imports which benefit from any of the specified group of subsidies 'and which cause or threaten injury to a local industry producing like goods'.

I set out that definition because that is what the Productivity Commission said in relation to dumping. We have signed a couple of World Trade Organisation agreements in relation to this, and they form the basis on which we carry out our obligations. They are article 6 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, and an agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures which regulate measures designed to remedy material injury caused by subsidised imports, similar to the antidumping agreement I just mentioned. So we have some trade obligations in relation to this. There are those opposite who claimed that China was a market economy, and signed an agreement to that effect. In large part, we are dealing with the consequences of that.

I see the member for Oxley is here. He and I have visited a particular plant in my electorate on numerous occasions. Capral employs 330 workers across my electorate and his electorate in the Ipswich region. In the Blair electorate 13.5 per cent of the workforce is employed in manufacturing. And I think it is almost identical in the electorate of Oxley. So it is an important industry in the whole western corridor between Brisbane and Ipswich.

This legislation is important, and it comes about because we have taken a number of steps. There have been a number of tranches of legislation introduced and passed in this place—I accept that that has been done with the concurrence of the opposition—in relation to antidumping measures.

So we are supporting jobs in the manufacturing sector. We know that they are under significant pressure from the high dollar and international competition. And we know there have been developments in the global markets which make it difficult. But in this debate we should not get the idea that it is free trade or fair trade. It is not either-or; it is both. We want our manufacturing sector to be strong and prosperous. We are talking of about a million workers who work in this sector, particularly in states like Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

We have taken a number of measures. I have spoken in this place on numerous occasions on previous bills in relation this. We have boosted the capacity of Customs and Border Protection Service investigations by putting in serious money. We have seen investigations almost treble in the last two years in relation to this particular issue.

We believe that international trade should not disadvantage our domestic markets and disadvantage Australian workers. We are undertaking this particular measure. The genesis of this comes back to the referral to the former Victorian Premier the Hon. John Brumby who conducted an inquiry into this issue and came back with a recommendation to Minister Clare that we establish an anti-dumping commission. We are doing so by this legislation. This particular legislation is going to be located in Victoria and it will make sure that there is a commissioner with staff, and we are also going to provide additional assistance by way of financial support. The review into anti-dumping arrangements recommended what we are doing by way of legislative changes today. This is part of the package of reforms that we are undertaking. We announced in December last year that we would make some further changes, and I know that Minister Clare announced on 6 February a new Australian anti-dumping commission. He introduced legislation to establish the anti-dumping—

Mr Turnbull: Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I rise to take a point of order on the member for Blair's speech which I have been enjoying as I listen intently. He has referred to a minister as Minister Clare. He knows that under standing orders ministers should be referred to by their title, or they can be referred to as the member for their constituency. If I could also add that I think that it is a very pernicious development to start referring to ministers as Minister Smith or Minister Brown.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I remind the member to refer to the other members in this place by their correct titles.

Mr NEUMANN: Perhaps the member for Wentworth would like another title rather than the shadow minister for broadband and telecommunications. Perhaps he is aspiring to another one, rather than just the member for Wentworth. The member for Blaxland is also a minister with responsibility for this particular jurisdiction and introduced this legislation. He happens to be the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, something that you may aspire to someday yourself, Mr Turnbull.

There were 400 stakeholders who contacted the inquiry that was conducted by former Premier John Brumby in relation to this issue. The report found that the workload of administration in this particular area had increased significantly and we needed to get this out of the customs and trade measures area and into a stand-alone commission with legislative guidance for the commission's work with increased resources.

We did announce that package in December 2012 and the minister said in a press release when introducing this particular legislation that we would do this, we would create a commissioner's role with legislative guidance and that:

The Commissioner will be responsible for decision-making and other anti-dumping related functions that currently rest with the CEO of Customs and Border Protection.

I think that enhances the legal and financial status in relation to this particular area.

This is very important for my electorate. It is very important for not just many plants across the country, but the Ipswich and West Moreton region has a very important company called Capral, which is a manufacturer of aluminium extrusion products. It is about a 77-year-old Australian company which employs over 900 people across the country. At Bremer Park industrial estate in Ipswich there are 330 workers. Capral can take a 400-kilogram aluminium billet—traditionally it sources that from Australian smelters and turn it into an everyday product—extruding, ageing and finishing that aluminium into numerous shapes and sizes. I had the benefit of seeing that and being there on many occasions. In fact, I can recall I went to a dinner at that particular plant with the member for Oxley, if I remember rightly, where Capral showed what it can do. It was extraordinary capacity. That plant is currently running at about 60 per cent capacity.

The business manager there, Sven Gade, has done a great job and that particular business was honoured on 8 November 2011 in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Awards. He was named the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year at the Ipswich Civic Centre. Sven thanked the Capral team and made the point in his speech that night, that over the past years—talking about the employees—they have been instrumental in steering Capral through one of the toughest manufacturing environments imaginable. Despite the ailing building construction market, Capral has gone from strength to strength. I am pleased that they have increased the number of workers there from 300 to 330.

I have taken the member for Blaxland and the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs to Capral, and I have taken his predecessor to Capral. Phil Jobe has been the CEO of Capral nationally, and I want to pay tribute to Phil's advocacy in relation to this issue. Phil said when he was the managing director of Capral—relating to the reforms that the minister had put in place and what the federal Labor government had done—he was 'pleased with the reforms the government has announced'.In the Queensland Times he made the comment:

The plant at Bremer is world class. It has got the latest technology, it has got a highly skilled workforce and can compete with the best plants in the world. What it can't compete against is products in countries where they are subsidised by governments and where they manipulate their currency. We've been campaigning strenuously for three years for major reform in the anti-dumping regime in Australia that would allow a company such as Capral to put either new cases in or revised cases in that would improve the remedies available to us.

The fact that he happened to thank me and the member for Oxley is neither here nor there. I want to pay tribute to Phil. On 19 December 2002, the board of Capral announced that Phil, whose contract as CEO expires on 15 April 2013, advised that he will not be extending his contract. He did tell me in an email that he would remain as a non-executive director and that Capral had asked him to continue his advocacy in anti-dumping reform. He said he remained passionate about that particular role, and he would continue to do so.

I am sure that the minister will continue to hear Phil's advocacy for reform. I know that the minister has said that this is yet another part of our reform process and that there is much more to be done.

We are determined to make sure that injurious dumping—which is inconsistent with the international trade rules, reduces competition and afflicts our markets and affects our workers—cannot continue. We have built on the reforms that we announced in the past through the streamlining of this legislation announced when Minister Brendan O'Connor was the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs back in June 2011. We have made sure that there is a requirement for the minister to make decision in 30 years. We have improved the locus standi of organisations to bring applications in court. This is a particularly complicated area of the law. I have read on numerous occasions advice from Queen's counsel about cases that Capral have been fighting in relation to anti-dumping.

A more effective anti-dumping scheme will support jobs nationally and in Queensland, particularly in the large manufacturing areas around Brisbane and Ipswich. I support this legislation. We on this side of the House are supportive of free trade but we want to make sure that that trade is fair as well. This legislation is good for the local economy and for local jobs in my electorate.