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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7152


Mrs MIRABELLA (Indi) (20:44): I want to begin by asking the minister on what date he first directly discussed his decision to establish the Manufacturing Technology Innovation Centre with anyone in the department and with whom specifically. Did he specifically discuss the concept of the centre in any form with any of the following people or organisations before it was announced on budget night: the secretary of the department, the head of Enterprise Connect, CSIRO, the Prime Minister's Manufacturing Task Force, the Future Manufacturing Industry Innovation Council, the Advanced Manufacturing CRC, the Auto CRC or the CRC for Advanced Composite Materials? If he did, can he please indicate in each case the name or names of the relevant people to whom he spoke, and when?

In addition to that, can he indicate what specific process the government followed to calculate that the sum of $29.8 million should be allocated to the centre? Can he give a full breakdown of how that money will be spent?

Moving on, in February last year, the minister was reportedly asked to name the top five things people could do to beat the carbon tax. He apparently said that it was best to reduce energy consumption. In fact some of the quotes are here. He said:

And the main way to do that is by saving energy, to turn things off at the wall …

He went on to say:

Maybe think about how often you use the airconditioner. Using a cheaper-to-run hot water system. Changing the light bulbs. Have you got insulation?

If people can think about what their energy consumption is like and how they can save on it, that's a really important thing to do and you can cut your electricity bill quite significantly and help the environment.

Following on from those quotes, given that one of the key original rationale for the rollout of the disastrous home insulation program was that it was supposedly going to reduce emissions, can the minister inform the House how many emissions it has reduced? What percentage of the overall number of bats used in the program were manufactured in Australia and what percentage were made overseas? If the government is trying to signal to people that they should turn off their lights and televisions and other forms of electricity as much as possible, then there is not much point, by the minister's own admission, building a multibillion dollar National Broadband Network to deliver computer connectivity across the country.

Moving on, given that the government's own regulatory impact statement said that there would be a $202 million cost to the economy if its coastal shipping laws were passed, and given that Deloitte revealed the policy could cost $466 million by 2025, cause freight charges to rise by 16 per cent and lead to the loss of 570 full-time jobs, can the minister update the chamber on whether there has been any change from the government's point of view of what the financial impact of the policy approach would be? As industry minister, what information has he personally sought and from whom about how many job losses the new laws will cause in the affected industries, especially in manufacturing? Since the government's closure in February 2012 of its solar hot water rebate scheme, how many times has the minister met directly with representatives from that industry? What updates does he possess about how many manufacturing jobs and how many jobs in total have been lost in that industry as a result of the government's decision? In relation to the government's recent amendments to the Fair Work act applying to the TCF industry, how many formal briefings did the minister seek and/or receive and from whom on the impact of the legislation on the state of the TCF industry in Australia? Has the minister ever received any form of advice or warnings that this legislation will prompt business closures and major job losses in the TCF sector? If so, how has he practically responded to those warnings?

On science, what is the precise role, as you see it, of the Chief Scientist? Can you give the House a clear statement in principle of the kinds of conduct or circumstances that would cause the government to lose confidence in and/or terminate the employment of any Chief Scientist? After years now of no announcement, including again in the budget, the science community is still awaiting a decision from the government on a successor program to international science linkages. Does the government have any plans for the implementation of a replacement program? If so, what is it and when will it begin? To the minister's knowledge, has his colleague Minister Evans responded to a letter sent to him in late May by a group of seven former CSIRO scientists alleging instances of significant workplace intimidation and victimisation? Has the government taken any other action in response to those claims? In the ministers view, what action should and would the government take in the event that a multitude of instances of workplace bullying had indeed occurred at CSIRO? In hindsight, does the minister significantly regret commenting on the story run in some parts of the media last year that the local climate scientists had been receiving death threats and contributing to a story line that has subsequently been debunked. (Time expired)