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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8529

Carbon Pricing

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:33): My question is to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Carr. Can the minister respond to claims that Australia's manu­facturers have no place in a low-carbon economy?

Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (14:33): I thank the senator for his question. I just indicate to the Senate that, far from seeing the low-carbon economy as a threat, I take the view that this is an enormous opportunity—an enormous opportunity to modernise manufacturing, to refocus manu­facturing and to generate jobs for Australian manufacturing. The government is absolutely committed to ensuring we are able to modernise industry in such a way as to produce jobs. The government is committed. This government is committed, as we have seen by carrying the legislation today, to a comprehensive package of measures not just to assist households and communities but to assist industry, to assist workers and to assist regions and to ensure that, through the Clean Energy Future package there is some $20 billion worth of assistance so that our industries are able to modernise, are able to front up to the challenges of the 21st century and are able to secure the jobs for the period ahead.

Our job is to work with manufacturing, and we will. This government will be working with manufacturing to ensure that we have the ability to face up to these challenges squarely. There are phenomenal opportunities. Rather than being a threat, this is a huge opportunity to put Australia at the forefront of economic modernisation. To ensure that we are able to seize these opportunities, the government has provided $20 billion worth of assistance.

Those opposite that campaign against these measures have to also come clean and say they are prepared to withdraw $20 billion worth of assistance from Australian industry, from Australian workers and from Australian jobs. What we have seen here— (Time expired)

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! When there is silence, we will proceed.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! On my left: when there is silence, we will proceed.

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:36): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the minister confident that Australia's scientists and researchers are ready to support manufactur­ers in this challenge?

Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (14:36): Absolutely. Universities and resear­ch agencies are right on the front line in terms of assisting industry to deal with these great transformations that are facing this country. Scientists in Australia and research­ers in Australia can look to the government for a 43 per cent increase in the level of support for science and research. The CSIRO and all our major science agencies can look to this government for a level of support unparalleled in the history of the Common­wealth. We understand just how important science and research is to develop the capabilities to ensure that we have those high-skill, high-wage jobs in this country, so that we can modernise our firms, so that we can—

Senator Abetz: What about Coogee Chemicals?

Senator CARR: If you want to talk about a chemical company in Victoria, get your facts, Senator Abetz, get your facts! What you are repeating is the ignorance peddled by sections of the press. You are only too happy to peddle fear. You are not interested in blue-collar workers, you are not interested in the future— (Time expired)

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:37): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. What evidence can the minister provide to the Senate to justify his claims about the commercial potential of clean technology?

Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (14:38): I am pleased to direct the senator's attention to the Commercialisation Australia grants I have announced this week. These are grants that back up people who want to back themselves. They confirm that Australians are willing to invest in themselves and they are willing to ensure that they have a stake in the future. Green Distillation Technologies from New South Wales is one example. They are building a pilot plant to turn old tyres into oil, carbon and reclaimed steel. Theirs is the sort of technology looking to ensure that we are able to reduce Australia's dependence on oil imports. We see the sort of technology that gets old tyres out of landfill and into more productive use. That is the sort of message that we want to sell to the world.

I know there are some ignoramuses on the other side of the chamber who are not interested in science, not interested in economics, not interested in facing up to the challenges of the 21st century. But the sort of knuckle dragging that we have seen— (Time expired)