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Thursday, 31 October 1996
Page: 4962


Senator ABETZ(7.41 p.m.) —This evening I was going to devote my speech on the adjournment debate to some very ill-considered comments of the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, who referred to parliamentarians on both sides of this parliament—both in the lower house and here in the Senate—as `bastards, bitches and ignoramuses' and somehow thought that by using that description he would increase the tone and level of the euthanasia debate within this country and inject some maturity into the debate. I simply say to Mr Stone: if you want to increase and raise the level of the euthana sia debate within this country, you ought desist from using those sorts of words; you do not increase your own stature by trying to cut off at the knees those who seem to oppose you.

I simply make the plea to the Chief Minister that he restrain from that sort of extravagant language, come back down to earth and realise that people on all sides of this parliament are giving the euthanasia debate serious and genuine consideration and that that sort of terminology employed by him does no benefit for the debate and, above all, does him no credit whatsoever.

The matter that I want to debate this evening is the exciting announcement by the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy (Mr Anderson) and the Minister for the Environment (Senator Hill) this evening of the new woodchip licences. That is a great boost and boon to our economy, particularly that of Tasmania. It will provide security for jobs and potential for extra jobs.

It is interesting that the previous Labor contributor in this debate just continued with his normal attacks. Yesterday it was on Senator Newman about her office. Tonight it was on the member for Bass, Warwick Smith. He gets into these personal attacks rather than getting on with the real job. That is what the government has been doing.

It is interesting that the Labor senator who devoted 10 minutes of his time to a personal attack on the member for Bass also rejoices in the title of being president of the CFMEU in Tasmania, which allegedly represents the forest workers. We know that that honourable senator voted against the very export woodchip regulations which have now allowed Tasmania to benefit in such a very real way and provide extra jobs for Tasmanians. The announcement will provide certainty for timber workers and investors alike. There is the prospect of even further jobs in the timber sector.

The allocation of licences is the culmination of the Liberal government's commitment to Tasmania's timber workers and communities. The small sawmillers in Tasmania will be big winners, as will be the private tree growers. This is a victory for all sectors in the timber industry, especially for workers.

After a decade of bungling this issue by the Labor Party and the Labor government, the Liberal Party has now successfully delivered certainty within the first 12 months of government, in fact, within the first eight months of government. So the people out there can contrast 10 years of bungling and uncertainty with the delivery of certainty, job security and, indeed, more job opportunities within only eight months.

This shift and definite action shows the high priority that the government has given to providing security for timber workers. That is in stark contrast to Labor which is still wallowing in the aftermath of its shameful failed attempt to defeat the regulations which allowed for these new job and investment opportunities. Timber workers can now be absolutely satisfied right around Australia in regional seats, and especially in my home state of Tasmania, that it is the Liberal Party that genuinely delivers job security and opportunities for them.

I have been actively involved, ever since being appointed to the Senate, in pursuing the interests of the timber workers and the timber industry and in providing security and certainty for them. Within the two and a half years that I have been here, this really is the culmination of very important decisions that have been taken and it has allowed people to realise that we, in the Liberal Party, are genuinely concerned about the timber industry, about workers and about providing job opportunities.

Our first task was to win government. The second task was to bring in appropriate regulations. The third and final task has been delivered this evening in the provision of those licences. I can understand that senators opposite feel somewhat concerned whenever the issue of woodchips is mentioned. The federal campaign consultative panel of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales said that there were certain real problems in their strategy. They said:

There was, however, a number of issues involving ministers during the final term of the government which had damaged the image of the party.

Do you know what they were? They were: Carmen Lawrence, the whiteboard affair and woodchipping. What do they do? They appoint Carmen Lawrence as Shadow Minister for the Environment. She has opposed the creation of every single one of the new jobs that are going to be provided as a result of these decisions. We do not even have to rely on the New South Wales division of the Labor Party because a state colleague of mine, Senator Sue Mackay, Labor senator for Tasmania, assisted the Labor Party federally in analysing the problems that Labor had at the last election. She wrote, along with Barry Jones, the national president and the national secretary Gary Gray, these words under the heading, `Priorities and balance and what went wrong'. The first item was woodchips, jobs and environment. It reads:

The logging dispute and the blockade of parliament house exposed seemingly intractable conflicts between two of Labor's important constituencies—workers and environmentalists.

They tried to sit on the barbwire fence and it did untold damage to both sectors during the last election. But they were pushed off the fence when they voted on the export woodchip regulations. When they voted on those, they jumped off on the side of the environmentalists, thus deserting the workers. Undoubtedly, that is why people such as the honourable senators opposite, such as Senator Murphy, come into this House day after day trying to engage in personal attacks on Senator Newman, the member for Bass, rather than dealing with the real issues—because they know. Senator Murphy, himself, is allegedly the president of the forest workers union in Tasmania. He voted against the regulations which provided them with certainty. He voted against the regulations which would provide new job opportunities.

As a party, within the first eight months of government, we have delivered certainty and security to this industry, something that Labor could not do for over a decade. Why? Because they were trying to play off both sides. We unashamedly say that we want environmental responsibility but we also want to provide security.

The people of Australia need to realise that a lot of these extra export woodchip opportunities basically are from sawmill residues which would otherwise have been burnt or from waste which lies on the forest floor and, under Labor's environmental policy, it lies there either to rot or burn. We say, `Let us export it. Let us provide jobs. Let us provide environmental responsibility and let us provide jobs for the unemployed around this country.' Today's announcement has been very welcome, especially by the people of Tasmania.