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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1136


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture) (15:07): I recall on the members opposite on a number of occasions advising the then opposition not to write their questions based on what was written in their newspapers, and it is obvious that they have forgotten their own advice.

Senator Wong is right, the Australian people did not elect a government to endanger Australian jobs—they got rid of a government that was endangering Australian jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Over the term of the previous government, the manufacturing sector—including car manufacturing—spat out something in the order of 135,000-140,000 jobs. So much for the opposition's record on manufacturing and car manufacturing. In fact, under the government's watch, we saw Mitsubishi close its operations and Ford announced that it was going to close its operations. The former minister, Senator Carr, is not in the chamber to defend his record, which is quite surprising.

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Colbeck, you have the call.

Senator COLBECK: If he is so passionate about it, Senator, he ought to be here. He is making all the racket. If he is so passionate about it he ought to line up—

Senator Jacinta Collins: You are being a hypocrite.

Senator COLBECK: The senator might like to withdraw that comment across the chamber.

Senator Jacinta Collins: Well, you are!

Senator COLBECK: I do not appreciate being called a hypocrite, Mr Deputy President.

Senator Jacinta Collins: No, I said you were being hypocritical.

Senator COLBECK: No, you did not.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Colbeck, just resume your seat for a moment. Senator Collins, if there was any unparliamentary debate across the chamber—and I might add it is disorderly—it would be more simple if you did withdraw. I did not hear the comment.

Senator Farrell interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Farrell. I am just asking Senator Collins if she considers that a course of action.

Senator Farrell: I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy President, if you did not hear it can hardly be unparliamentary.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Farrell. That is why I was asking the senator for her consideration.

Senator Jacinta Collins: In the light of allowing proceedings to continue, I am happy to indicate that I had no intention to make any unparliamentary remark and I withdraw.

Senator COLBECK: I acknowledge the senator's withdrawal and I thank her for that. If you look at the Labor Party's record in respect of the car industry when in government—

Senator Farrell: It was terrific.

Senator COLBECK: Horrific. I think you have got a pronunciation problem, Senator Farrell—it was horrific. Look at, for example, the cash for clunkers scheme. If you want to call that a terrific policy, Senator Farrell, be my guest. Cash for clunkers did not even see the light of day. The money for that program was withdrawn before the scheme even started—it was that bad. In fact, there was an edict issued from the ministry that the term 'cash for clunkers', which was being used in the ministry, should never be uttered again. Talk about a classic policy that was so bad that it was withdrawn before the government even started expending money on it.

Give us a break. The coalition's policy on the car industry has been in place and well-known by the car industry for a considerable period of time. It has been clearly enunciated over recent years. There has been no change to our policy. Yet we saw the green car fund. How many times did the government go back to the well of the green car fund to withdraw funds? Somewhere in the order of $1.2 billion, from recollection, withdrawn from the green car fund by the Labor Party when in government over the last three years—that is hardly consistent policy. How is industry supposed to make decisions based on that sort of policy?

So we had the green car fund that came and went and was consistently tapped from the well by the former government, the cash for clunkers scheme and then, in the lead up to the election, we had the fringe benefits tax changes that cost the car industry $1.8 billion. The opposition has the nerve to come here and lecture the government on consistency of policy and yet, after taking billions of dollars out of the car industry themselves, they are saying that they were going to save it.

Then, of course, we come to the carbon tax—$400 for every car to be manufactured in this country. The opposition claims that the government is not consistent in policy, and yet our policy has been on the table for a considerable period of time.

Senator Jacinta Collins: Have an inquiry.

Senator COLBECK: Our policy in respect of the inquiry and in respect of funding has been on the table for a considerable period of time, and yet the previous government came and went with money. I cannot help but repeat the cash for clunkers—it did not even see the light of day. How could you have any credibility as a government? It is obvious why the Australian people tossed them out. (Time expired)