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Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Page: 5200


Senator BOSWELL (3:12 PM) —Sometimes I think the Greens must have done a recruitment campaign and recruited a lot of the ALP. You would expect a speech like that from Senator Brown or any of the other Greens, but where is the Labor Party when it comes to defending the blue-collar worker? Where is it? We have never seen it. They have given up on it. It is not only the National and Liberal parties that are saying that. Jennie George, the member for Throsby—which is in a particularly relevant area—has said that this is not going to work. Chris Trevor, the member for Flynn, has written to say that the coal industry needs more support. The Treasurer of New South Wales has written to say that the CPRS will not work. The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, has expressed her dissatisfaction with the CPRS. So not only is it the coalition but there is a break-out amongst the ALP hierarchy. Why wouldn’t they break out? They can see their blue-collar vote being eroded. They can see it going down the chute.

This is a wake-up call to every blue-collar worker: you have been deserted by your so-called political allies. They were your political allies but have now ceased to be your political allies. They have neglected you and walked away from you as they put your job on the line. Your job is under threat. Do not be under any illusion. Your job is under threat, and it is only the Liberal and National parties that are standing up for you. You have to realise that you have been sold out by the ALP.

We see it time and again. Here we have BlueScope fighting for survival with a $66 million loss. So what do we do? We put a tax on them—no, two taxes! The government put on an ETS tax and then they double it up with a tax under the renewable energy target. So BlueScope have two taxes put on them by the ALP. But it gets worse: because the ALP will not decouple the ETS from the RET, we find that the steel industry are left out when it comes to any benefits under an ETS that should have flowed across to the RET. They miss out on that too.

This is a disaster beyond all disasters. But it is not only a disaster for the steel industry; it is a disaster for all Australian manufacturing. We do not have a lot of Australian manufacturing left—a lot of it has gone offshore. But what we do have depends on low energy costs. That is why we have all our workers; otherwise, a lot more manufacturing would go overseas. But we are penalising our niche advantage, which is low energy costs. We are putting a charge on energy that is going to put the price up by 40 per cent, between the RET and an ETS. And then we expect people like BlueScope to be able to compete, when none of their competitors overseas have to meet these costs. They are not miracle men. They cannot create something out of nothing. In the papers today BlueScope are saying they have lost $66 million and they are going to lose more if an ETS comes in.

It is not only our manufacturing base that is affected; it is our mining industry, our aluminium industry, our primary industries—all of them are threatened under the CPRS. What are the Labor Party doing about it? Lecturing us on what our obligations are. Well, why don’t you let us start lecturing you on what your obligations are to your base? They are the blue-collar workers who put their hard-earned money towards supporting the Labor Party. They are paying $600 and $800 a year to support you, the ALP, and what are you doing? You are turning your backs on them and not giving them any support at all. You are going to destroy the steel industry, you are going to destroy the cement industry, you are going to destroy the coal industry—all these industries that have hundreds of thousands of jobs for blue-collar workers. But you do not care. You are going to support doctors’ wives. You are going to support those people but neglect your blue-collar base. (Time expired)