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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 53

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (15:56): I too rise to make a contribution in this debate taking note of answers given by Senator Brandis and Senator Sinodinos. Just to recap slightly: we went to election on 2 July or thereabouts in 2016, and the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull was successful. He delivered the Senate that we currently have. And there are many new faces—some of them welcome, some not so welcome. But the reality is he has to own his work.

If the ABS is saying at the end of 2016 that the unemployment rate has risen to 5.8 per cent—741,000 unemployed Australians—he has to own that work. If under Malcolm Turnbull there are 19,800 more people lining the unemployment queue than when the Abbott-Turnbull government was elected in 2013 and there are fewer full-time jobs, he has to own that work. That is his work.

When you look at the international debate at the moment, there is a recently elected person who, when the facts do not agree with his position, puts out alternative facts. In some degree Senator Brandis attempted to do that today. But the electorate does know that those alternative facts are really a word that starts with B, ends with T, and has a middle letter of S. The real people out there who care about unemployment, who care about the hundreds of thousands of youth unemployed who are not getting access to jobs or traineeships or apprenticeships, know that these alternative facts which are thrown around the chamber are actually mistruths—I will not say lies, but they are a misrepresentation of the work that the ABS does. Senator Carr has put on the record that there is both academic and public scepticism about the way we measure unemployment anyway.

Sufficed to say that if you move around your electorate—and I move around the seat of Grey—there is real concern about unemployment. There is real concern about loss of jobs and ability to get into jobs. When you look at what is happening in the automotive industry—that is a direct indictment of this current government. We were sending $1.5 billion worth of cars to the Middle East. What have we replaced that with? Carrots? Sheep? Some vegetables? That is an awful lot of produce that needs to go to Saudi Arabia to replace the $600 million worth of Toyotas that were imported by that country.

When I had the privilege of going to Saudi Arabia on a trade delegation, through the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, they said: 'Why aren't you making cars anymore? We love your cars. We buy them. Why aren't you sending them our way anymore?' It is difficult to explain to people that we had a federal government that chose to do away with making cars per se. Toyota had a successful business and probably could have stayed, had there been another manufacturer alive. But they could not support their export simply on the basis of being the only manufacturer of motor vehicles in Australia. This government walked away from that.

I will go back to my central theme: you have to own the work you have done. As we all agree, the ABS stats may be a bit problematic, but they are the only stats we have. If they show that unemployment is increasing, that goes back to the Prime Minister, his government and his policies. If there are more people are seeking employment than can get fully employed, he has to be cognisant of that and put in place policies to deal with that. The reality is that he has got nothing substantial through the parliament to address these issues, and it looks like he does not even have an agenda in his Prime Minister and Cabinet area which will help. Sure, you want to cut tax; cut tax, fine, but people are already in front of you. The United States is saying 15 per cent tax. I think Ireland is already at 12 per cent. What is it—a race for big business to pay no tax? Half of them, as we know from several inquiries, do not appear to be stepping up to meet their obligations, with transfer-pricing, housing company headquarters in Singapore and the rest of these matters. Mr Turnbull has to own his results. Unemployment is up, underemployment is up and youth unemployment is up. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.