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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5449

Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (5:30 PM) —I do like it when I get some inherent support from Senator Boswell! I must say that Senator Abetz is never so impressive as when he is embracing Labor legislation with some coalition amendments. Senator Boswell, I will test you in the next day or two by bringing in here a motion in defence of the timber workers currently being sacked by Gunns Ltd. To keep the profit line up, they are putting people out of work in this recession. It is only the Greens who have ever spoken up for them in this place.

Senator Abetz —You would get rid of all their jobs!

Senator BOB BROWN —Senator Abetz! Here we go. I remember very well putting forward the proposal when the regional forest agreements legislation was being put through here that, at the same time as guaranteeing Gunns and the logging industry access to the destruction of forests for their profit line, they guarantee the jobs of workers in the logging industry. Senator Abetz and his colleagues, along with the Labor Party, voted against that proposal. They would not have a bar of it. So much for the defence of workers. It had nothing to do with that. It was all to do with being in the sway of the National Association of Forest Industries.

Senator Wong did not answer the question about the value of this legislation to the proposed Gunns pulp mill. The legislation is so enthusiastically being amended in a joint arrangement between the coalition and the government, but they are denying the amendments that Senator Milne put forward. About $20 million on the back of an envelope will pour to Gunns. That will squeeze out genuine renewables, as they feed native forests into the proposed furnace. There is more to come. That is why the government has set up a panel that includes the CEO of Gunns and the head of the union, who is on a $570 a day payment as an executive, to work out what other subsidies the Rudd government will give to this pulp mill before we get to the next election. That is another story.

A spin-off for Gunns—directly in its proposal—will be some $20 million plus a year. If the minister has different figures, she is welcome to come back with those. That will directly cut out true renewable energy and the jobs that go with it, by the way. That furnace will not create jobs but renewable energy will. It will destroy not just forests but jobs. I asked for the figures from the minister. She has not given them. We will get none from the coalition. I am giving those figures to this chamber. It is not my job to do that. I am giving those figures to the chamber because the Senate needs to be aware of what it is doing when it comes to the vote now at hand.

Question put:

That the amendments (Senator Milne’s) be agreed to.