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Kim Carr's one-year report card.



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3rd December 2008

Kim Carr’s one‐year report card     The Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Eric Abetz, today delivered his one-year report card on Senator Kim Carr.

“Senator Carr has proven himself a massive failure”, Senator Abetz said.

“In Opposition Senator Carr promised the world, in Government he did worse than deliver nothing - he actually took the sector backwards.

“Innovation, Industry, Science and Research was by far the most heavily hit portfolio in the May budget, with a $63 million cut to the CSIRO, more than $12m. cut out of ANSTO, and, shamefully, the abolition of the vital $700 million Commercial Ready program.

“If ever the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Mr Tanner, needed a doormat, he had one in Senator Carr.

“While every other Minister apparently fought tooth and nail for their portfolio programs, Senator Carr rolled over like a lap-dog seeking a tummy rub.

“As a result, Australian Government expenditure on R&D actually declined as a percentage of Australian Government outlays.

“As for manufacturing, despite saying that he wanted Australia to be a country which still “makes things”, manufacturing activity is at its lowest level since Paul Keating’s recession we had to have, and thousands of jobs have been lost.

“But Senator Carr’s real low-light is his failure to stand up for industry in the face of the severe threat it faces from Labor’s proposed emissions trading scheme.

“While other Ministers organize round-tables for affected business, Senator Carr adopts the Senator Wong approach of see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

“After one year as Minister there can be only one assessment of Senator Carr: he has made things worse.”

ENDS.    

A08115 Kim Carr's one-year rep...

 

 

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (1.42 pm)—We have just heard a wonderful speech from a

wonderful senator. I am sure that the Senate will be the poorer for Senator Ellison’s

retirement, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to say some more about him later

on this afternoon.

It has been a year since the Rudd Labor government were sworn into office, which

provides an opportunity to reflect on their stewardship of the innovation, industry, science

and research portfolio. Before the election, Senator Carr spent endless speeches hectoring

and lecturing about how the former coalition government had supposedly run down

Australia’s manufacturing and innovation sectors and how the coalition had supposedly

neglected science and research, despite the most recent ABS figures now showing that

R&D as a percentage of GDP reached an all-time high of over two per cent in the last

year of the coalition government. And I remind the Senate that, up until April 2006, the

coalition government was busy paying off the $96 billion debt that was left to us as

Labor’s legacy.

Up until the last election Labor claimed that they would fix it all. Labor promised to

support Australia’s manufacturing sector, Labor promised to revitalise the CSIRO, Labor

promised to build an innovation economy by streamlining the Commercial Ready

program, that very highly popular Howard government initiative. But not only have Labor

failed to deliver; Labor have actually taken Australia backwards in all of these areas.

If the sector was ‘neglected’ under the coalition, then it is positively being attacked by

Rudd Labor. Apart from establishing review after review, Labor have viciously attacked

the sector on which our future wealth and prosperity as a nation are so dependent. Despite

the need for stimulus in this years budget, science and research suffered cuts as a total

percentage of Australian government outlays on R&D. What this year’s budget showed

was that if ever the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Mr Tanner, needed a doormat

he had one in Senator Carr. While every other minister apparently fought tooth and nail

for their portfolio programs, Senator Carr rolled over like a lapdog seeking a tummy rub.

The end result—$63 million cut out of our premier research institution, the

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an organisation which

Senator Carr had promised to revitalise. This is now seeing cuts to personnel, scientists

being laid off and facilities being closed. We saw in this year’s budget more than $12

million being stripped from the budget of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology

Organisation, all because it has the word ‘Nuclear’ in its title. We also witnessed the $707

million for innovation in the Commercial Ready program being axed. So in the very first

Rudd budget innovation, science and research saw its share of the budget slashed by $782

million.

Before the election not only had Labor promised to retain Commercial Ready; they had

promised to streamline it because they wanted to make it easier for people to apply for

and get funding. I can say one thing: Labor certainly did streamline the paperwork. They

got rid of any need for paperwork because they abolished the scheme. Yet Mr Rudd and

Labor continue to go around the community falsely saying that they have kept all their

election promises. I invite those journalists that repeat that line, and also those Australians

that actually believe that to be the case, to visit the CSIRO, to visit ANSTO and also to

talk to our innovators and ask them about the Commercial Ready program because they

do not believe the mantra that Rudd Labor have kept their election promises.

Not satisfied with trampling all over Senator Carr in dismantling Commercial Ready,

Minister Tanner actually boasted—can you believe this?—at a post-budget breakfast that

the axing of Commercial Ready was his ‘proudest achievement in the budget’. Can

anyone believe the stupidity and shortsightedness of making such a decision, let alone

wanting to brag about it?

There is an old saying in politics: when you are knee deep in a hole, don’t keep on

digging. But Senator Carr, not able to help himself, kept digging. When asked in this

place how the abolition of Commercial Ready helped Australia’s innovation economy,

Senator Carr’s answer was, ‘We’re not in the business of funding millionaires.’ What an

appalling statement from a person who pretends to be a supporter of innovation in this

country. Senator Carr knows, as I do, that most of the recipients of Commercial Ready

were not millionaires at all; they were young inventors struggling to get a break as to their

innovation and seeking to take it to market.

To ensure the accuracy of the Hansard record, would you please check the following name — Jimmy Savire. They were people like Jimmy Savire, whom I recently visited in Sydney. He has a new

sugar substitute for use in chocolate which promises chocolate with 40 per cent less

sugar—great business innovation with a huge potential for health benefits, so a real win.

But Jimmy’s hope of support through Commercial Ready has now evaporated, thanks to

Labor, just like that of others. Take the dozens of possible medical cures that will no

longer come to fruition or the company with a new road safety device whose executives

were told, the day before the budget, they had a Commercial Ready grant, only to read the

next night that the program had been axed along with their grant—and the list goes on.

But there was one company that benefited from a significant grant from the minister,

albeit it was not out of Commercial Ready. It was Toyota, the world’s most profitable

general car manufacturer. Remember Senator Carr rushing to Japan just so he could be in

a $35 million money shot with a Prime Minister in Japan? We were told this $35 million

was essential for Toyota to manufacture—in fact, we now know it will only be

assembling—the hybrid Camry in Australia. It all sounded very nice until we realised it

would not actually be manufactured here in Australia, rather just assembled. Not only will

the engine be fully imported from Japan but, at the same time as the Australian taxpayer

is paying this money for 10-year-old technology, Toyota is planning to build generation 2

plug-in lithium ion battery hybrids in the rest of the world. It turns out that this money

came from the green car fund. Holden and Ford were never made aware that this money

was going to be made available. You may well ask: what else could you do to make things

worse in the Industry portfolio? Well, you have got the luxury car tax hurting Australian

car manufacturers. You have currently got Australian car dealers needing finance and

support, a situation which has made so much worse by the bungled bank guarantee

legislation.

The real low point was when I asked Senator Carr in this place about the impact of the

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme on Australian industry—that rushed, ill-considered

and flawed ETS. What was his response? ‘I am not the responsible minister.’ Well, he is

the minister for industry. While others organise roundtables with affected business,

Senator Carr adopts the Senator Wong approach of see no evil, hear no evil and speak no

evil about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. So we have the bizarre situation that,

when I ask questions about Nyrstar, for example, for my home state of Tasmania, the

minister does not make a peep in response, not one. He was not even invited to Senator

Wong and Mr Kerr’s Labor Party strategy meeting on how to tackle the issue—so

insignificant is his role, so out of the loop and so irrelevant, even in his own party.

Virtually every government department is acknowledged in the credits of the Treasury’s

modelling of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But there is one missing, Madam

Acting Deputy President—and you have guessed it—it is the industry department. It is

simply incomprehensible that the minister for industry should be so compliant in the

construction of the new tax which—notwithstanding some of the public views of their

leaders—almost every industry and business I have spoken to believes will significantly

reduce their viability and in some instances force them to close. And, of course, this

means huge job losses for those so-called working families. That really does say it all

about this minister. Where was he on these fundamental issues such as commercial ready,

the luxury car tax and the ETS? He was missing in action. Whilst in opposition he would

say one thing and he has done exactly the opposite in government.

One thing I can say is this: come the next election the coalition will be waiting with a

genuine plan and a set of policies which will actually deliver on the needs these sectors

face. Unlike Senator Carr when we say something in opposition we will actually do it in

government should the Australian people decide to elect a Turnbull government in 2010.

    Brad Stansfield Office of Senator the Hon Eric Abetz Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research 02 6277 3019 - 03 6224 3707 - 0419 884 666