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Order In The House -

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(generated from captions) THEME MUSIC 'Welcome to Order In The House, a review of the week's business in Federal Parliament.' When Labour turns banker, don't taxpayers always have to pick up the tab? MURMURS OF AGREEMENT It will be on their heads if jobs are lost. Labour is committed to implementing a strong set of compliance arrangements for the building industry. A strong cop on the beat. And we'll see in that industry, a return to the bad old days of union thuggery and lawlessness.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve in this parliament. MEMBERS: Hear, hear. THEME MUSIC 'The week kicked off with the end of parliament's biggest guessing game. Peter Costello announced he'll retire at the end of this term.' The Leader of the Opposition. Yes, on indulgence, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you. On indulgence, Mr Speaker, today is a momentous day in the history of our parliament and the history of our country. The Member for Higgins, the honourable Peter Costello, has announced that he will re... not, not re-nominate for... LAUGHTER ..for pre-selection. He will not re-nominate for pre-selection as the Member for Higgins.

SPEAKER: Order. Order. Order. I'm pleased, I'm pleased that the members opposite... I'm pleased the members opposite are so readily amused. Order. Order! Because - ..for 11.5 years, Mr Speaker, for 11.5 years, this country had the great gift of a treasurer who took our nation from having $96 billion of debt to having no debt at all. MEMBERS: Hear, hear. He took our nation from a stage where it was putting heavier and heavier burdens on the shoulders of children and grandchildren yet to come, and which put money away in the bank in the future fund to relieve them of that burden. It was a period of unparalleled prosperity, unparalleled economic growth, and it could not have happened, it would never have happened without the contribution of the Member for Higgins. And if I may, Mr Speaker, this brief moment,

recognising that there will be many other occasions

to acknowledge the contribution of the Member for Higgins at greater length and to do him greater justice. If I could just cast our minds back to his maiden speech in 1990 when he said, "When we talk of creating a fairer and more compassionate society, what do we mean? Over decades, arguments have raged over which system of government -" Member for Banks... "..best creates such a society, some have argued that the society -" The Member for Banks! "..where government controls industry and controls and directs the production distribution of goods is a society that is inherently more compassionate and fair. Others have argued the converse. In this century, the argument has raged between those who believe that by enhancing government power, the government can deliver fairness and compassionate to its citizens and others who have maintained that in the interest of fairness,

the power of government itself must be curtailed

and the compassionate resources of our citizens released." Mr Speaker, Peter Costello, for all his years in this parliament - 20 years - has stood on the side of freedom and enterprise, he has served our nation well,

we salute him and we thank him for his service. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! To have been a member of this parliament for 20 years is, of itself, a significant achievement and for that, in itself, the Member should be commended for having represented his constituency for such an extended period of time. Secondly, for having being Treasurer of the Commonwealth for 12 years, or virtually 12 years, is, of itself, a further credit

to the individual Member's talents and abilities.

He would not have been put in that position by his political party

nor nominated by my predecessor Mr Howard had confidence not been expressed in him by his party and by the leadership of his party and his considerable intellectual skills and the policy skills which he brings to the public policy debate in Australia, and for that, he should be commended as well. On top of that, if I could add some remarks about his contribution

to Australia's place in our international economic engagements through the IMF and beyond. The Treasurer as he was then, Mr Costello, the Member for Higgins, was Australia's representative on the IMF and through his occupancy of that position, the other international financial institutions as well, for which Australia has representation. Through the IMF, I would make two particular points. One is that in the deliberations following the Asian financial crisis in '97-98, the decision at that stage to establish the G-20 Finance Ministers Meeting was something in which the Member for Higgins, the Treasurer as he was at the time, played a role. The establishment of the G-20 Finance Ministers Meeting

from that time on in the events of the last 12 months, in turn, provided a platform through which we, together with other governments, could elevate it into a heads of government meeting. And that is now the G-20 Summit which has served this nation well in the meeting which was held in Washington at the end of last year, London most recently and again respectively in Pittsburgh this September. It has been an important vehicle for global economic governance and it had its foundations in the fact that we did have a body established at the Finance Ministers/ Treasurers level across 20 of the world's leading economies back then, and in those deliberations of the time, the Treasurer as he was then, the Member for Higgins played a significant role. The further point I'd make in that respect is that off the back of the Asian financial crisis at the time, significant decisions were made here to intervene and support various of our neighbouring economies that were experiencing difficulties at the time.

From memory, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea.

And decisions were taken by the then government, led by the Treasurer as he was then, to provide significant offers of financial assistance to assist those economies through that difficult time. These were correct decisions in the national interest, they were correct decisions on behalf of good neighbours of these countries and these are correct decisions, I would remind the House,

which are not forgotten today. The fact that we have good relations with the countries which I've just listed is in part anchored in decisions taken back then, and I'd like to make appropriate recognition of that in the House today. If I could make one final point about the importance of family in a place like this. The near 20 years that the Member for Higgins has been in this house, I think, obviously, together with other members

who have been here for an extended period of time, it has been an extraordinary burden which is born by his wife, his partner, as well as his children, and that is a burden, which those of us who have been here for some time fully recognise and understand. So I would say to the Member for Higgins on behalf of his confreres and great mates here in the Australian Labour Party, that we wish him well, we wish his family well, and what has been a quite extraordinary career in Australian public life. MEMBERS: Hear, hear. The Member for Higgins. Well, Mr Speaker, may I say... I didn't think I'd ever see the day where both sides of this parliament would say nice things about me. (MEMBERS LAUGH) It is just... (MEMBERS MUTTER AND CHUCKLE) It is just possible that both sides of the dispatch box

are happy with the announcement that I've made, Mr Speaker. (MEMBERS LAUGH) Ahem. And I want to thank both the Leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull, and Prime Minister Mr Rudd for their very kind words. Um, Woody Allen was once asked what he hoped he'd hear people say at his funeral, and he said, "As I'm lying there at my funeral, I'd hope to hear somebody say, 'Look, he's still moving!' " (MEMBERS LAUGH) And it's a very nice thing to actually come here and not be quite departed

and hear the kind of speeches one only hears as eulogies. In fact, I might come back tomorrow for a little more. (MEMBERS LAUGH) I'm enjoying it so much. The Prime Minister rightly, I think,

talked about Australia's role in the formation of the G-20. The G-20 would not really have happened without Australia and it brought together the developed world and the developing world,

and Australia is neither. We came in as an honest broker because we stood in Asia's hour of need as the only country,

along with Japan, that came to the rescue of those crisis-affected economies. I don't need to say that from our perspective, to have a seat at the table which represents 90% of global GDP, is a very, very important diplomatic position for us and for our country. It has moved up a notch now with the Leaders Summit, and I think the role that it played

both when it was convened by President Bush and also Prime Minister Gordon Brown shows just how important it is. And I do think that this is something Australia must never let go of. There will be others that will try and refashion a G-something else, G-8, G-7, a G-13, a G-14, but bear in mind, the G-20 is forum where Australia can play a role

and always has. We have chaired it, we have had it here in Australia and it will be integral, I think, to the shape of the future of the global economy. I thank the Leader of the Opposition for mentioning our achievements in the economic sphere. Of course, those on the other side won't want to refer to them as much for obvious reasons

but I'll make this point. It's a point, actually, I've made in the... ..new chapter of the forthcoming paperback edition of my book. (MEMBERS LAUGH) Ahem. And I don't know if I mentioned the hardback copy has actually sold out. We are having a paperback edition with a new chapter. Ahem.

The point I've made is that the strength of Australia's position in terms of its debt to GDP ratios have got nothing to do with the journey in the last year but everything to do with the starting point. We didn't have a starting point of a net negative debt, that is an asset position, the now debt position would be ending up where the Europeans

and the Americans and the British has. It was the strength of the starting point that gave Australia ammunition that could be unloaded and unlocked in the current situation and every now and then, it's just worth paying credit to the people who've put in place important reforms for your time.

None of us comes to politics in the year zero. There's always something that has gone on before and I've always paid credit, because I think they were right, to Hawk and Keating for the Liberalisation of the financial markets

and the cutting of tariffs. There are things that, uh... ..we could also be given credit for, I think, by the current government and it will Australia stronger

if we do that. Can I say, in that maiden speech that I gave so many years ago,

I said these words, "I believe in the parliament."

And I do. And although it was my privilege to be a minister for a very long period of time, the parliament is still important. There's no person in this place that is not important.

Everybody had something to get themselves here and to get elected and has a view that has to be listened to. We are lucky to have a parliament, and that's why I very consciously decided after the election, that I would stay in the parliament because the parliament is an institution that should be preserved and valued, not just the ministry. And it has been my privilege to be in this parliament for 20 years, what I consider the best years of my life. I also want to say, I think Australia's best years can still be in front of it. I think this is still a young country with wonderful opportunity and properly governed, properly governed, there are great things in store for us. The Prime Minister was very generous in his words, I thank him for those words.

On this occasion, he did not come the raw prawn. (MEMBERS LAUGH) He gave a fair suck of the sauce bottle. (MEMBERS LAUGH) And I appreciate the statement that he did. Family means everything to me.

And you cannot imagine the strength that a strong family gives a person

and I thank my family and my colleagues, my branch members

and my electorate committee for everything they have given me. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve in this parliament. MEMBERS: Hear, hear. 'The Greens joined the Coalition in opposing one of the Government's key responses

to the global financial crisis - the Business Investment Partnership, dubbed the Rudd Bank, it's aimed at helping the commercial property sector.' The Greens have made it very clear to the Prime Minister

and to the Treasurer and to the Government that we expected a cap to be placed on what the Prime Minister described

as obscene salaries for, at least, potential... ..the developers who potentially were going to receive largesse from this multibillion-dollar fund being established at risk to the public dollar. We have made it very clear for many weeks now that we would not support this legislation unless there was a reasonable cap -

and we were prepared to negotiate that- placed by the Government. That came in the wake of a number of public statements of very great strength by the Prime Minister about his disapproval and the Government's disapproval of what he termed as obscene, multimillion-dollar take-home packages

that we had seen in recent years. However, when it came to the crunch, the Government had no such intention. I want to make clear again that I have written to the Treasurer in the last 48 hours and said we wanted the cap to be of $1 million

to be placed on executives of development corporations who were going to receive public largesse and guarantee. And that guarantee begins with $2 billion, but it could extend up to, in effect, $28 billion of public moneys. It's vast sums we are looking at here.

The Treasurer has declined and has not requested further negotiations in the last 48 hours to see if a higher cap, for example, could be placed. You will know, acting deputy president, the Greens have moved variously in the past for a cap of $5 million

to be placed on the take-home pay of CEOs. What Obama is prepared to do in the United States Rudd is not prepared to do in Australia. The President of the United States has placed a cap on the take-home pay of executives of failed corporations

who are being bailed out by public largesse. That's what the Greens ask for here. That's what the Prime Minister of Australia has refused to go through with. Minister? I will make a contribution because it's apparent the legislation will be defeated. I have already engaged Senator Brown not just on this occasion but on other occasions about the different circumstances

in respect of salary caps and bailouts in the US and some other places compared to Australia, so I won't repeat that argument again today. It is disappointing these important bills will not pass and, as a result of that, ABIP will not be up and running

to provide a source of liquidity to viable commercial property firms

should the need arise. Australia is more exposed to the potential fallout from the global financial and economic crisis as a result of opposition to the bills. Naturally, the government hopes that the possible funding gap that might arise in the commercial property sector that gave rise to the ABIP initiative does not materialise

and that liquidity problems do not result in the failure of good Australian firms

and the loss of Australian jobs. The only other point I want to make is that the crossbenchers - the Greens, Senator Xenophon and Senator Fielding from Family First did constructively engage with the Government. There was significant discussion, I know, and I do thank them for that. The Liberal Opposition just said no out of an ideological approach, as they have said no to anything in terms of intervention in these very, very serious financial and economic times.

Just sit on your hands, do nothing, well, you know, that's the way to see a much worse recession eventuate. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and I refer to the rejection of Rudd Bank by the Senate

and ask the Prime Minister to detail to the House... MEMBERS INTERJECT SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Leader of the Opposition has the call. Thank you Mr Speaker, I'll start again. I refer to the rejection of Rudd Bank by the Senate and ask the Prime Minister to detail to the House The Labor Party's record in commercial property lending

and advise honourable members how many thousands of jobs and billions of taxpayers' dollars were lost through the Labor Government-run state banks in Victoria and South Australia when Labour turns banker, don't taxpayers always have to pick up the tab? This stands as one of the more reckless acts in which the Liberal Party has engaged in recent times because if you listen to the tenor of the questions

put into the House of Representatives by the Leader of the Opposition over the last week or so, they've been along the lines of the availability of finance

The availability of finance and the cost of finance. What does this team opposite then go around and do in that Senate? They block finance and its availability to business. This is a complete contradiction in the position

they've sought to put forward in this House. The Leader of the Opposition would rather see the nation fail than the Rudd Government succeed, Mr Speaker. That's their attitude to this particular proposition. And it is the case that the business community

does strongly support this measure. And it is important, it is important that a measure like this should pass, because it does have important and dramatic impacts upon confidence.

As the CEO of the Property Council said this morning, Mr Speaker, the confidence dividend this would have delivered will now be lost. And it just goes to show how little they understand about the challenge of this global recession. How little they understand about the need to support employment, the need to support small business that they could engage in such a reckless act, Mr Speaker

because this is measure that is required. It's a very important contingency measure. And if worse comes to worst, Mr Speaker, and they don't change their minds and projects fail and jobs are lost, it will be on their heads, Mr Speaker. It will be on their heads if jobs are lost, but because what we do see from this mob is an enormous of cheap outrage

feigned indignation when they know we are doing the right thing by the country. On Wednesday, minister after minister drew attention to the Opposition Leader's wealth and past business dealings.

It was a tit-for-tat reaction to Mr Turnbull, who earlier raised questions about the Prime Minister's probity. The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker, my question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to Mr John Grant who has supplied him with a free car for almost all of the time he has been Leader of the Labor Party... SPEAKER: Order. ..and to the Prime Minister's answer in question time... MEMBERS INTERJECT SPEAKER: Order. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition has the call. Thank you, Mr Speaker, I'll start again. I refer the Prime Minister to Mr John Grant,

who has supplied him with a free car for almost all of the time he has been Leader of the Labor Party, and to the Prime Minister's answer in question time on 4th June, where he most indignantly denied that he or his office had spoken to Mr Grant in relation to OzCar, the taxpayer-funded finance company, or had made any representations on behalf of Mr Grant. Does the Prime Minister stand by this denial?

The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, my answer is as it was the last time the honourable member raised this question because that is the advice I have received from my office. Furthermore, can I say to the honourable member that, in relation to this particular vehicle, since it was provided by the individual concerned, the declaration on pecuniary interest was made.

The ute was valued at around $5,000. It was put in my pecuniary interest statement on 3 July 2007, as is required by the Commonwealth Parliament. Furthermore, what I'd say to the honourable member is, in terms of representations which have been made by various members in this place, I am also advised that, in addition to the car dealer from Sydney who spoke to me, Mr Kaplan, from Hunter Holden in Sydney, which I referred to the other day in my answer to the honourable member's question, there have also been representations, I understand, to the Government from the member for Riverina, the member for Dunkley, the member for Murray and, of course, the member for Dawson. It is entirely normal for representations to be made to OzCar because this is the sort of thing which members of parliament are required to do if you are asked to actually get out there and support the industry. I refer the Treasurer to his remarks in the House on 4th June where he told us that Treasury officials would be free to appear before a Senate committee to answer any questions about representations

made in relation to the OzCar finance scheme. As the Treasurer said and I quote, "Go for your life."

Will the Treasurer reaffirm to this House

that there will be no attempt to prevent any official appearing before Friday's Senate inquiry and will he provide properly to senators any and all documentation casting light on the nature of the representations made by ministers, or their offices on behalf of Mr John Grant, the Queensland car dealer who provides a free car to the Prime Minister. SPEAKER: Treasurer. Mr Speaker, the normal arrangements will occur as usual. Let's have a look at the economic team of the Opposition. We've got the Opposition Leader living in the leafy Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, we've got the...we've got the... ..there we go, the shadow treasurer living in the northern suburbs, the leafy northern suburbs of Sydney and we've got the shadow finance minister... SPEAKER: Come to order. We've got the shadow finance minister who lives, again, in Woollahra in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Lovely suburbs, lovely suburbs. If you go to Woollahra, if you go to North Sydney,

if you go to French's Forest, lovely place to visit. I'm not finished, I'm not finished. The minister will resume his seat. The minister will resume his seat. Minister! MEMBERS INTERJECT Order! Those on my right. The member for Dickson on a point of order. On a point of order, Mr Speaker, and it does go to relevance. I mean, he enjoys cosying up there, spends half his time in Melbourne. He's supposed to live in Brisbane and he pretends... Member for Dickson! ..pretends to be somebody he's not. What's he doing here? The member for Dickson will leave the chamber for one hour under 94A. MEMBERS INTERJECT Order. The minister has not yet got the call. The Liberal Party, just like their forebears in the 1930s, those characters with the bowler hats and the waistcoats and the canes and all that sort of stuff, you can just see the leader of the Opposition exactly the same -

totally uncaring, totally unconcerned about jobs, in complete denial about the threat of global the recession and in that case, global depression, to jobs, Mr Speaker. In complete denial. Just like many of his colleagues are in complete denial about climate change, Mr Speaker. Now, there are places you can go to get help for this problem of denial, Mr Speaker, and I'd recommend to the Leader of the Opposition

he might try that. You sit around in a circle, then you pop up and say,

"I'm Malcolm and I'm an investment banker." And then everybody gets together and has a chat about it all, Mr Speaker.

The question from the member for Wills, though, Mr Speaker, also invites me to provide examples of where some appalling logging practices have taken place. And I am reminded, Mr Speaker, of the example of Axiom Forest Resources,

a company that engaged in logging in the Solomon Islands in the 1990s at the same time that the Leader of the Opposition was both their chairman and a shareholder. I read with interest an article earlier this year in the Sunday Telegraph and the title of the article - Malcolm Turnbull Linked to Mass Logging Operation in Solomon Islands. It went on to report about the island of Vanyunu,

home to just over 2,000 people in the Solomons and, well, the Leader of the Opposition's company certainly left their mark on the island. It was never the same. In a report that was provided by AusAID, I quote, "More like a clear-felling operation and bearing little relation to an attempt at even retaining a token sample of future commercial crop on the site. The report went on to say the degree of canopy removal and soil disturbance was the most extensive seen by the authors in any logging operation in tropical rainforests in any country," the report said. MAN: Shame! The impact on the destruction of the resource, so that, instead of it being done in a sustainable way,

the resource was essentially shot to pieces, also then, had its ongoing impact on the soil. When rain went through, water would take in the order of 24 hours to a week to be cleared and in the rainy season, the plumes had become a semipermanent feature. It was also revealed in March 2007, that the chairman of that company bought in a the 200,000, sold out one year later for $25 million. MEMBERS EXCLAIM Not a bad story for the Leader of the Opposition, but a pretty shocking story for the residents of that island on the Solomon Islands. In a 1997 report on the logging practices of the Solomon Islands, it was also revealed that complex corporate arrangements were consistently entered into to avoid tax, something that would be known fairly well

by someone who's been willing to be an opportunist in this way. An opportunist who was also willing, also willing as minister for environment, to describe rainforests as being the lungs of the world. The lungs of the world.

Some years after he had decided to be part of an operation that was clear felling the lungs of the world. INTERJECTION Mr Speaker, a forest that was felled and...and...and we've got the Leader, the Manager of Opposition Business there wanting to talk about where is there a spill, where is it grubby, I tell you it certainly was for the people living in the Solomons. It certainly was for them cos they certainly had a resource shot to pieces. (INAUDIBLE INTERJECTIONS) They certainly had to deal with...with something

and what was the role as the chairman of the company

that the Leader of the Opposition when this came to light described himself as having - quote,

"My only involvement with the company was as a corporate doctor." Well, a doctor that may well have made the company pretty healthy but left the Solomon's feeling pretty sick. 'Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said parts of the construction industry need cultural change, as she introduced the transition to Fair Work Bill.' The government understands

that the building and construction industry stakeholders do not agree on all matters but we must agree, as I am sure that every decent Australian agrees

that there is no place in any industry

for people choosing which laws to obey and which ones to ignore for underpayment of wages or sham contracting, or violence and intimidation in the workplace.

Labor is committed to implementing a strong set of compliance arrangements for the building industry. A strong cop on the beat. And the Rudd Government has consistently stated that anyone who breaks a law will feel the full force of the law. This bill gives effect to the government's election commitment to abolish the ABCC and transfer its responsibilities

to a specialist Fair Working Inspectorate from one of February 2010. The Bill creates the new office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate and provides that this new agency will insure compliance with the general Workplace Relations laws as proscribed in the Fair Work Act 2009 by all building industry participants. In retaining the coercive interrogation powers

this Bill also includes the following safeguards including all of the safeguards recommended by Mr Wilcox in relation to the use of the power. Use of the powers is dependent on a Presidential member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal being satisfied a case has been made for their use. Persons required to attend an interview maybe represented by a lawyer of their choice

and their right to claim legal privilege and public interest immunity will be recognised. Persons required to attend an interview will be reimbursed for their reasonable expenses. All interviews are to be videotaped and undertaken by the Director or their deputy.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman will monitor and review all interviews and provide reports to the parliament on the exercise of this power. And the powers will be subject to a five year sunset clause. The Bill contains a sunset clause for the coercive powers at the end of five years from the 1st February 2010. A review will occur prior to the sunset on all matters relating to compliance in the building and construction industry. Such a review would be inclusive of all stakeholders. The government is heartened by the fact that Mr Wilcox is not of the view that there are widespread and broad problems for the industry across the country. We agree and note that the vast majority of participants in the industry are hard-working and law-abiding men and women. But the reality is there are also problems in this vital sector. There is a clear and immediate need to drive cultural change in some key areas of the industry. Accordingly, the litigation is aimed at driving cultural change

in the industry and focussing compliance activities where those activities are most needed. On this basis the bill creates an office,

the Independent Assessor?Special Building Industry Powers,

who may, on application from stakeholders, make a determination that the coercive interrogation powers will not apply. There are those who will be critical of the government's reforms on both sides of the industry. We accept that differences in views and perspectives make this criticism almost inevitable and that some may be disappointed in some parts of this bill.

I am also disappointed; disappointed that there are still pockets of the industry where people think they are above the law, where people engage in intimidation and violence. Having said that, the government believes that the safeguards

that are being introduced achieve the balance required to ensure compliance with the law and the fair treatment of individuals.

Law abiding industry participants have nothing to fear from the existence of these strong powers to deal with rogue elements in the industry. Ultimately, whether or not the powers are used is in the hands of all building industry participants themselves. If the law is abided by then the powers will not be used. This was a commission that was established after the Cole royal commission. It was established by the Howard government in 2005. And it's been extraordinarily successful in controlling lawlessness within the building and construction industries. Anyone familiar with those industries knows that building and construction in Australia is plagued by serial lawlessness, militant unionism and the resulting violence and thuggery. For two decades prior to the Cole royal commission this was an industry with a culture that could only be described as completely and utterly crook. There was laws that were supposed to enforce law and order within that industry, but they weren't working

because the cop on the beat didn't have the powers that it needed to do that job properly. Now we've had some theatre in the lead-up to this legislation being tabled in the parliament, where the government pretends that it's going to be tough on the militant building unions. Oh, yeah. It comes in here and says, "No, we're going maintain a tough cop on the beat. Sure, we're abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Sure, that's been incredibly successful in enforcing law and order within those industry, but we're going to abolish it and replace it with something that's allegedly a tough cop on the beat. But what we find is that this tough cop will not have the powers that it requires to do its job properly.

So, despite all the theatre, despite all the sound and the fury about how Julia Gillard was being tough on the union movement, this new body is not going to have the powers

that it requires to actually control law and order within what is an exceptionally difficult industry. The ABCC has been around since 2005 and its results have been measured by independent analysis done by KPMG.

And what that analysis said is that, because of the ABCC, within those four short years since its establishment there has been a 10% increase in productivity within the building and construction industry, industrial disputation has been reduced by 92% to record lows.

During this time the workers have of course benefited. Increases in their average weekly earnings within that industry in the three years from 2004 to 2007 were 25.5% in real terms. 25.5% for those workers within three years in real terms. The economic gain to the community of the creation of this commission has been estimated at over $5 billion. It's improved levels of health and safety within the building industry and there's been almost a 7.5% productivity gain

in commercial building relative to residential building since it was established. And the results for the community of this improvement within that one industry

across the whole of Australia are very impressive. GDP is 1.5% higher than it otherwise would be. Consumer inflation has been lowered because of those improvements within the construction industry.

And as I said before, there's been a gain

of over $5 billion to the whole community. Madame Deputy Speaker, what we found with this government is a pattern of behaviour - they say things but then their actions belie the sincerity of their words. The award modernisation process is going to directly destroy tens of thousands of Australian jobs and the government has no plan to alleviate the cost increases that will result from that process.

Similarly, we see it with the Australian Building and Construction Commission. We've had a tough cop on the beat, it's enforced law and order and it has contained those militant unions, but now the government, protesting that it cares about people's jobs in that industry are going to come along abolish it, they're instituting a toothless tiger that won't have the power to do the job. We will see in that industry a return to the bad old days of union thuggery and lawlessness. 'The Opposition tried to punch a hole in the $14 billion school's building program questioning the way the money's being spent.' The Member for Sturt. INTERJECTIONS Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Education. INTERJECTIONS I refer the Minister to the Hastings Public School in New South Wales granted $400,000 for a covered outdoor learning area under the schools stimulus debacle. Given that the school - INTERJECTIONS AND LAUGHTER

Given that the Hastings Public School

built a similar covered outdoor learning area for just $40,000 in 2003 this represents a tenfold leap in just six years. What action will the Minister take to stamp out waste and mismanagement in the School Stimulus Debacle? Hear! Hear! INTERJECTIONS The Deputy Prime Minister. Fair testing. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. And I thank the Shadow Minister for his question because he proves yet again how little the Liberal Party cares about education in this country. Hear! Hear!

On the specific school that he raises I will of course investigate the details of this matter but can I say this, the track record of the Liberal Party in raising accurate claims in this House is a very poor one indeed. So, given we've already had questions from the Liberal Opposition that when investigated turned out to be completely incorrect, I will not accept any fact asserted by the Shadow Minister without having it thoroughly checked. So we will undertake those checks. I refer to the Minister's representation, made in the House yesterday, confusing the Hastings Primary School in Victoria and the Hastings Public School in New South Wales, the recipient of $400,000 for a covered outdoor learning area ten times the amount the school received in 2003 the same school, for another covered outdoor learning area, the principal described today as "Almost as big as the one we anticipate building now." Does the minister share the view of the Principal of Hastings Public School in New South Wales, that and I quote, "I want someone to show me why a weather shelter is going to cost $400,000?" Hear! Hear!

Why won't the minister do the right thing and refer the waste and mismanagement of this program to the Auditor-General? Hear! Hear! What I can say to the member for Sturt, if he is interested and maybe because they choose to interject rather than listen, he is not, but what I can say to the Shadow Minister is that the circumstances at the Hastings Public School in New South Wales are these - that in 2003, there was a joint project involving a covered outdoor learning area. My understanding is that there was $40,000 of government funding and a $40,000 co-contribution from the P&C something they'd fundraised themselves ? a total of $80,000, no doubt, a very worthy project. What has been made available to the school, under Building the Education Revolution, is a significant structure. It is the size of one and half tennis courts, it has a solid roof, that it will include the fit-out, which will include an amphitheatre, seating, a sound system to facilitate school assemblies and performances, science and art work spaces. This is obviously a very substantial structure with a fit-out which will enable whole school activities under cover. Now what seems to me remarkable about these questions, Mr Speaker, remarkable about these questions is that the shadow minister's only position on education is to come into this parliament day after day and say, do less on education?" "Why doesn't the government do less?" Presumably the shadow minister for education would only be happy if the government was doing nothing on education.

And presumably he would be happy then because it would exactly mirror what the Howard government did in office ? absolutely nothing. I challenge any member of this House to name one successful, profound school reform that happened under the Howard government. No, it didn't. Lots of articles in the Australian about Maoists on curriculum boards, but not one profound reform that ? will resume her seat. Deputy Prime Minister. The Member for Mackellar on a point of order. Thank you, Mr Speaker, I refer to the relevance standing order and say that the minister has attempted to answer the question the rest is just rhetoric and rubbish and she should be sat down. Member for Mackellar, resume your seat. Hear! Hear! Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. And it's always helpful to get a contribution from the future of the Liberal Party, the member for Mackellar. We wait for her to make a re-emergence much closer to the front, it's inevitable over time, Mr Speaker. Inevitable. My point is simply this - if we look at the track record on education of the Howard government, we are invited day after day to do less by the Opposition. Well, we won't be doing less because we do not want this nation to be at the back of the OECD for investment in early education. slipping education standards. disadvantaged children left behind. We don't want this nation to have children in substandard facilities.

We do not want this nation to lack a 21st-century vocational education and training system able to meet the needs of the modern economy, particularly during the days of the global recession. We do not want this nation to lack a 21st-century university system

which is ready for a decade of reform so a greater number of Australians can get the benefit of a university education, particularly Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds. I know every member of the Liberal Party might find those things offensive, but it is what drives us each and every day and we will continue to deliver it, Mr Speaker. ALL: Hear, hear! Our concerns around this program revolve around many facets of it.

But they come under the headings of the failure of the government to genuinely promote the regional aspect to what was supposed to be a jobs stimulus package in the regions as well as the cities,

through their failure of course, to use local businesses in many instances through the skimming by state governments, who are vacating their responsibilities now that the Building the Education Revolution so-called is in full swing. State governments realise they can rush away from the table and take what meagre resources they were going to put into capital works and leave the Federal Government and of course, the Federal taxpayer, holding the baby. We are concerned about profiteering by private enterprise and individuals who are inflating their tender contract figures because simply, demand and supply have been suspended by this program. There is simply not enough capacity in the system to supply the demand that the government is asking of the private sector. When the private sector says to government bureaucrats, "We simply have not got the capacity to do this," they say, "We have to get this money out the door.

We have to rush this money out the door, so you will simply have to do it." "We cannot afford it." "Put up your contract figures and you will be able to do it." That is exactly what is happening through private companies. Whether they are profiteering deliberately or simply because bureaucrats are encouraging them to do so, there is profiteering. We are concerned about the poorly targeted spending. It does not take into account the needs of schools and local communities. Instead, it insists on a centrally planned, centrally controlled template of options that schools are being presented with sometimes with one day to make the decision about whether they wish to take the template from the Federal Government, even though they might have real infrastructure that they needed to have in their schools. We are also concerned about the waste and mismanagement of projects

that are seeing literally billions of taxpayers' dollars being spent on "Versace" stuff, to quote one expert in the field. Every one of those wasted dollars

are hard-earned taxes created by Australian taxpayers to be used on genuine infrastructure which we are seeing wasted and disappearing. The only solution to this morass of mismanagement and this wanton waste

is to refer the entire management of the program to the Auditor-General to determine exactly what is happening

and what needs to happen to make the program work.

Nobody on this side of the House begrudges the opportunity for schools to improve their infrastructure - nobody. But we do not believe - and neither should the government - that that means waste and mismanagement should be tolerated. The Auditor-General will get to the bottom of exactly what is going on with the so-called Building the Education Revolution. What the shadow minister ought to know, if he knew anything about the Building the Education Revolution program, is that we are not just talking about the physical construct. We are talking about all of the fit-out inside the building so it is fit for purpose.

Anybody who has built a home, or done some renovations at home, knows that there is a substantial difference in the figure between lockup, as builders talk to you about, and actually being back in a fully fitted facility. A kitchen at lockup will be the walls, a kitchen that is a fully fitted facility will have the sink available,

all of the plumbing available, all of the tiling done, the range hood, and all of those sorts of things. We are talking about buildings that are acquitted so they are fit for purpose. Interactive whiteboards, seating, amplification systems, cooling, heating - whatever is necessary to make sure that these buildings are fit for purpose. It is no mystery that a builder would give a per-metre construction price and that that would be different from what it is actually going to cost to roll out this program. The difference is in the fit-out. And then, the shadow minister makes some allegations about profiteering. The problem with that is that he has not got one fact. When he made those allegations, the picture he was trying to create was of a building and construction industry that had so much work to do and so many jobs to pick from that they could pick and choose, they could put their prices up and rip people off and it would not matter because people were so desperate to get the attentions of that builder. Hasn't the shadow minister heard of the global recession?

The reason we are rolling this program out now, is anyone in building and construction will tell you,

that private sector investment in the building and construction industry is in retreat. My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his recent apparent interest in infrastructure in Sydney eastern suburbs schools. I also refer him to the Randwick Primary School where the school has had imposed on it a school hall built to the Rudd-Gillard template which is not suitable for the school's requirements. I further refer the Prime Minister to the motion passed by the P&C at Randwick Primary School on 15th June expressing its concern that the government is,

"Proceeding with the planning and construction of a building at the school without adequate consultation with the school community on the purpose, design and location of the building. Why won't the Prime Minister refer this bungled school stimulus debacle to the Auditor-General for an independent review? The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, what stuns me about this entire line of argument from the Opposition is where they stood on education performance in their 12 years in office,

when one piece of data after the other demonstrated us falling down the OECD table of education performance. Early childhood education, for example, the lowest wooden spoon performance across the OECD. School investment - investment in government schools by those opposite. An appalling record over the 12 years in which they were in office.

The stripping out of funds from our universities. What we have done in the period that we have been in office,

led by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, is give effect to an education revolution by an investment in the quality of our schools and in the infrastructure which is available to them. I say to the honourable member as he seeks to cry crocodile tears about the investment of funds into schools in Sydney and elsewhere - Prime Minister resume his seat. Prime Minister... (INDISTINCT CONCLUSION) Has the Prime Minister concluded? I refer the Prime Minister to the comments of the principal of the Berwick Lodge Primary School in The Australian today, that schools are being harassed into signing off on templates they don't want. The guidelines for the school stimulus debacle explicitly state that the Commonwealth reserves the right to refuse funding to a participant who releases information publicly, state bureaucrats are being complicit in the siphoning off of vast sums from government schools and state bureaucrats have accepted templates with only the flimsiest of building details

and a total absence of costing valuations. Why won't the Prime Minister step in and refer the school stimulus debacle to the Auditor-General? ALL: Hear, hear! I am very pleased that the Member for Sturt has asked this question as well, because I would like him to also begin to reflect on which of these allocations he would find unacceptable in the electorate of Sturt. Burnside Primary School, which I understand he attended, was $2.5 million. Campbelltown Primary School at Paradise - Order. The Prime Minister will resume his seat.

Order. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order. The Prime Minister has invited me to answer his question. Is he suggesting that every dollar be spent only in Lab-

The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat and I warn the Member for Sturt. The Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker, because in this debate about the allocation of funding, I would draw a stark contrast between the Auditor-General's report in relation to the regional program... Regional rort. ..regional rorts program under the previous government, which indicated an excessive concentration of resources in particular seats held by a particular party, namely the National Party. Ten seats represented what proportion of the overall allocation? Half. Half of the overall allocation. What we have said from the outset is that we are out there to support the economy the education system as a whole, government electorates and non-government electorates, government schools and non-government schools. The objective of the exercise is to provide employment opportunities

for tradies, for sparkies, for local people and small business, and for others who are contributing to the construction industry in the country, as opposed to sitting on our hands and doing nothing. The Member for Grey. Yes, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. Can the minister confirm that the Lake Wangary Primary School on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia has received a second-round school stimulus debacle grant for $850,000 to construct - Order! Order!

I am only interrupting just to illustrate that even in the application of the standing orders this use of the word debacle, which I have allowed, is outside the standing orders.

Member for Grey. I will rephrase that, Mr Speaker. Can the minister confirm that the Lake Wangary Primary School on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia has received a second-round school stimulus grant for $850,000

to construct a new multipurpose hall when the school council chairman has obtained a quote showing the same building could be constructed for just $250,000? MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Will the minister... Order! Order! Will the minister explain how this represents value for money?

The Minister for Infrastructure on behalf of the Minister for Education. Thanks, Mr Speaker. I can certainly confirm two things. I can confirm that this school will be getting funding, because every school will be getting funding. So I can confirm that. I can confirm that. Including every school in Grey. And the second thing I can confirm is that the member for Grey voted against it. They are the two things that I can confirm for sure. The minister resume his seat. The Member for Cowper on a point of order. On relevance, Mr Speaker. We can confirm $600,000 is wasted. Member for Cowper will resume his seat. Minister is responding to the question. Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker.

They come in here and they say that they are opposed to spending on these schools, they say that there is waste in these schools, and yet back in their electorates they are out there supporting it. I can confirm that people in the southern part of Australia

have said this - "The electorate has also been in the fortunate position to have received a number of Federal funding grants to improve and support the local community.

Along with funding towards the Wantirna South Sports Complex, over 40 primary and secondary schools as well as special needs -" Minister will resume his seat.

INTERJECTIONS All right, first all, the minister resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat just for the moment and the Member for Sturt will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a). The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker. This circumnavigation of the globe of irrelevance has to stop. He's travelling all over Australia - The Leader of the Opposition resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was asked a question about Building the Education Revolution.

I am giving an answer about Building the Education Revolution and they do not like it. Well, they say they don't like it, but this is what they say in their newsletters. This is what the member for Aston said in his newsletter - that schools in Aston are beneficiaries of successful applications for - Minister resume his seat.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition can only be raising relevance. The minister is responding to the question. I would like to make my point - No. I am in a position to make a ruling.

No, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. the Opposition resume her seat. will resume her seat.

the Opposition will resume her seat. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition... She has the opportunity to make the point of order, Member for McEwen. If you have a point of order, you would have an opportunity too. But you do not have an opportunity to interject... ..because that is actually against the standing orders. The only point of order that you could be raising is relevance and I have ruled that the minister is responding to the question. INTERJECTIONS Because in their newsletters they are actually outlining every school in their electorates that is getting funding and claiming credit for it. Claiming credit for it. That is what they are doing back in their electorates. Closed Captions by CSI *