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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1769


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (14:31): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. How is the government supporting Australian industry and jobs today and delivering for working people into the future?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:32): I thank the member for Wakefield for his question. I understand it is his birthday today, so I acknowledge that. On this side of the House, we manage the economy to benefit the working people of this country and to grow jobs. Labor governments know how best to manage the economy for jobs growth. Australia does have low unemployment at 5.1 per cent. Real wages in this country have continued to grow. By contrast, unemployment in the United States is above eight per cent and real wage growth is stagnant.

Our economic strength has been achieved while also delivering on Labor's values of fairness and equity. We removed Work Choices to improve fairness in Australian workplaces. We have introduced paid parental leave. We have doubled investment in school education. We have upgraded facilities at schools around the country. We have created 130,000 new training places. We are investing more than $36 billion in transport infrastructure projects around the country. This side of the parliament is making an historic investment in the National Broadband Network, which will drive productivity improvements, improve living standards and create new business opportunities for businesses all around the country. This side of the parliament understands the importance of introducing a carbon price so that we can separate our economic growth from growth in pollution. On this issue, anyone who argues that we as a nation can do nothing about climate change is betraying our future—our environmental future and our economic future. We are investing in the skills and training to give Australians a fair share of the mining boom. We are helping small business.

Every single thing that the government is doing on the economy is opposed by the coalition. Falsehoods are constantly told. Let us not forget that not many months ago the Leader of the Opposition claimed the coal industry would be destroyed by a carbon price—

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will become directly relevant or will resume his seat. The minister has the call but he must be directly relevant to the question before the chamber.

Mr COMBET: This is directly relevant because it is about jobs and industry. The fact of the matter is that, since the government introduced our carbon price plans and legislated our clean energy package, almost $20 billion of investment has been announced in the coal industry, and the Leader of the Opposition said the industry would be destroyed. There are falsehoods told.

On this side of the parliament, we are managing the economy for the working people of this country. (Time expired)

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (14:35): Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Can the minister explain how the government will support thousands of workers at Holden's Elizabeth plant?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:35): This is an extremely important issue, so I thank the member for Wakefield for his supplementary question. Here again the government is managing the government to support jobs, and the motor-vehicle-manufacturing sector of this country is extremely important to our economy. Take, for example, the fact that 15 per cent of the research and development expenditure in our manufacturing sector is in the car industry alone. The car industry directly employs 46,000 people; another 200,000-odd people indirectly depend upon the industry. It is extremely important that that industry, which is at the high-value-added end of our manufacturing, achieves government support.

On the other side of parliament we have the contrary story. The opposition would take—

The SPEAKER: Order! As the minister is being no longer directly relevant, he will resume his seat.