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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 51

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (15:45): I rise to make a contribution in respect of the issue of jobs and this government's manifest failure to do anything productive in that area. In fact their attitude is quite destructive about the creation of jobs in this country, borne out by the fact that 34,000 full-time jobs were lost in 2016. I am totally gobsmacked by the fact that in Senator MacDonald's contribution to this debate he would raise the issue of the Shoalwater Bay acquisition—that complete bungling of the exercise by this government. We have seen a government which says it is interested in job creation totally bungle this acquisition in the Shoalwater Bay area, where I think some 60 or so graziers were informed that their land was potentially going to be compulsorily acquired. Those good people were put through quite a lot of concern, angst and confusion for some months, only to have the Prime Minister today rule out any compulsory land acquisition. That has been completely bungled. The government failed to put forward a case. It did not provide the numbers, it did not provide a proper plan as to what was in place there. So heaven help us in this country. If this government is putting its mind to job creation I think we are all in trouble.

We see nothing better to illustrate this than the departure of Senator Bernardi from the ranks of government today. This is a government which is divided upon itself. A government which cannot govern itself cannot govern the country. It is no wonder that people throughout Australia, particularly in regional Queensland, are losing faith in the political class when we see this dysfunction and chaos in our government.

In terms of creation of jobs, we know that this government has a centrepiece of a corporate tax rate reduction, which they say is the answer to the creation of jobs. We are very, very concerned about that. We consider that to be basically corporate tax welfare. It is a windfall for foreign companies and for the banks. It relies on the trickle-down approach, which I think has now been discredited by many respected economists. Senator Carr has talked about what I consider to be the economic vandalism associated with loss of support for the car industry, an industry which took decades to build up. Tens of thousands of jobs are now at risk, and there is the potential flow-on effect for research and development in this country, which I think is a particular disgrace.

I want to use my remaining time to talk about another example of this government's wanton disregard for the creation of jobs, particularly in relation to its attitude to the Brisbane Cross River Rail project—a $5.5 billion project which has the support of Infrastructure Australia and Building Queensland, the independent bodies which assess infrastructure projects. This is a project in Brisbane which would cater for future growth, unlock economic growth opportunities for the state and make Queensland more internationally competitive. It has been estimated that it would add $3.3 billion to gross state product. Some consider this to be in fact the number one infrastructure project in Australia, but we have a government which is failing to invest in Queensland. It is failing to invest in what can be objectively seen as a very, very worthwhile project. We know that Infrastructure Australia deemed this project ready to go in 2012. We know that the previous Prime Minister had a somewhat strange propensity to fail to invest in public transport. We now have a Prime Minister who seems to like taking selfies on trains and claims to be an advocate for public transport, but it is reprehensible that the government has not come forward with the necessary investment to bring this project to fruition. The coalition government has done nothing on Cross River Rail for more than three years. I think this is contributing to the damaging of the Queensland economy, and the government needs to reconsider its position in respect of this matter.