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Thursday, 25 August 2011
Page: 5580

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia) (15:22): Senator Singh proclaims that the government has a plan—that Labor has a plan. She proclaims that there is a plan. Obviously Senator Carr is not aware of the plan. Senator Carr clearly does not know what the plan is. Perhaps Senator Singh had better make a quick shift down to the front bench to Senator Carr's seat, because if she knows what Labor's plan is, if she knows what the government's plan is, obviously Senator Carr does not. Obviously Senator Carr does not know what the plan is, because Senator Carr came into this place yesterday and gave his 10-minute ministerial state­ment, and there was no new plan. There were no new policies. There were no new ideas. There was no content. There was no substance. It was all the things we have come to expect from Senator Kim Carr as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. So, if Senator Singh has the plan, she had better dust it off and reveal it to Senator Carr and the government, because her government needs a plan and it needs a plan fairly desperately.

Whatever the current plan is, if indeed there is one at all, it is transparently not working for Australia's manufacturing industry. It is not working at all. One hundred and five thousand jobs have been lost over the last three years in the manu­facturing industry. That is a sobering statistic and a statistic over which Senator Carr, as the industry minister, should hang his head in shame. Six hundred and twenty jobs per week, under his watch, have been lost.

I am just sorry that Senator Cameron is not in the chamber to debate this. He would and does love to speak about Australia's manufacturing industry. He loves to debate it. He loves to talk about this sector, which he wants to champion. The thing is, though, that the longer his government is in place, the less of a manufacturing industry there is. As for his beloved old union, which he used to champion out of this place and whose cause he now loves to champion in this place, there will not be much of a union left by the time he and his government have finished. The union will not have any manufacturing workers to represent, Senator Cameron. However, he is not here to debate at this time.

Senator Carr stood up today and, when challenged about what his plan was, when challenged about what his policies were, he said he has a vision. Senator Carr's vision is a little more like a mirage, it would seem, because his vision lacks any substance. It lacks any detail and it lacks any commitment about how he expects to get the manu­facturing industry in this country back on track and get it into a shape where it stops bleeding jobs week after week, month after month, year after year.

as with so many things, when the govern­ment get into strife, they like to have talk. They pretend that talk is action. Some time ago they decided that a great way of having action that was actually talk was to establish the Steel Industry Innovation Council, of which Mr Howes, who last night on Lateline declared that Australian manufacturing is in its deepest crisis since the Great Depression, is a member. But guess what? At this time of crisis in the manufacturing industry, in the lead-up to a time when 1,400 jobs across BlueScope Steel and OneSteel have been lost or announcements about them have been made, has the Steel Industry Innovation Council met? Not once has the Steel Industry Innovation Council met in the last six months. That means that not only has there been no discussion about how to handle these job losses but there has not even been any consultation with this council about the government's carbon tax. The government have not been engaged in discussions about the carbon tax with the Steel Industry Inno­vation Council. This body was meant to be tasked with setting the future direction, so the government proclaimed, but of course it was all just an announcement. It was all just an announcement at the time of the council, and that is what—

Senator Wong interjecting

Senator Back interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senators on both sides, order!

Senator BIRMINGHAM: And of course that, Senator Wong, will be exactly the same approach you will take to the Beattie report. You bring in Peter Beattie; you make a grand announcement. You will get a report, but do you know what will happen with that report? Like everything else, it will gather dust, because it will have just been an announcement of talk masquer­ading as action. It is not action at all. It is not policy. It is not planning. It is just putting masking tape over the mistakes of this government and over the fact that Senator Carr is unable in this industry space to run a comprehensive policy that actually saves Australian jobs rather than bleeds Australian jobs.

Question agreed to.