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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1460

Asian Century


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:33): My question is to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy. Will the minister advise the House of the importance of developing the right policies to enable Australia to take full advantage of the Asian century? What other approaches are there and what would be their impact?


Dr EMERSON (RankinMinister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy) (14:34): I thank my friend the member for Moreton not only for the question but for his interest in the development and implementation of a complex sophisticated document, the white paper on Australia in the Asian Century, that sets out 25 pathways and objectives, and policies to achieve those objectives.

Developing responsible, well-considered policy is vitally important, and the Australian people expect it. I am asked about alternative approaches and there are, of course, alternative approaches. There was an alternative approach last week. We heard from the coalition that they want to move the people north. This week they want to move the water south. I guess that people will pass the water, the water will be coming down, the people will be going up and confusion will reign supreme.

In the last week we have heard stories of water, dams, ships, canals and leaks. Certainly that policy unit is leaking. It is a pipeline of leaks to the media as they test their wacky propositions. We heard from the minister for water just now about the confusion of water heights: whether they should be high, whether they should be low or whether they should be moving.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Under the old standing orders—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: when an answer only had to be relevant, that sort of carry-on was acceptable. Since the concept of directly relevant was introduced, it is no longer valid. He is out of order and he should be sat down.

The SPEAKER: The minister has the call and should avoid debate in his answer.

Dr EMERSON: Speaker, I was asked about alternative approaches to the responsible approach that this government is implementing. As the water minister just indicated, there is confusion about the height of dams.

Mr Simpkins: Just pour another $100 million in.

The SPEAKER: The member for Cowan has been advised every day this week.

Dr EMERSON: The dam heights, according to the coalition, should be high, they should be low and they should be moving. It is a case no doubt of damned if you do, dammed if you do not. The big question here—and it is a question of the shadow finance minister—is: where will the money come from? The distressing news is that the Leader of the Opposition has appointed none other than Senator Barnaby Joyce to arrange the financing. This is the guy he dumped as the shadow finance minister because Senator Barnaby Joyce kept getting mixed up between his millions, trillions and gazillions. And now he is back designing the superannuation arrangements, raiding superannuation funds and instructing people who manage the superannuation of the working men and women of Australia to invest in uneconomic projects.

The people of Australia who invest their superannuation funds deserve and expect a decent return. They do not get that, of course; the Leader of the Opposition—himself described by the then Treasurer, Peter Costello, as economically illiterate—has now got Senator Joyce, who is also economically illiterate. This team is economically illiterate in seven languages, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! I am seeking quiet. The Manager of Opposition Business is not helping that. Does he want the call or not? The Manager of Opposition Business now has the call.