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Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Page: 6834


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:15): The voters of Canning and, indeed, all Australians understand the failure of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government to provide the economic leadership our nation needed six years ago. The voters in Canning—where I campaigned with Mr Randall during his very first attempt at the seat, which he was successful at—and, indeed, all Australians should look at the Australian economy.

Let's have a look at shipbuilding. The Labor government was in power for six years and did not do one thing to establish any forward trajectory for building the new ships that the Australian Navy desperately need. Let's look at the manufacturing industry. All of the problems of the Holden, Toyota and Ford motor vehicle companies occurred in the six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government. The problems for those motor car companies did not start the day Labor lost the election; they were a result of inaction by the Labor Party, and Senator Carr in particular, over the previous six years.

Let's go to agriculture and look at the Labor government's record there. The Labor Party are never supporters of agricultural industries. There was Senator Ludwig's decision to stop the live cattle export trade and the destruction that that brought to a once vibrant industry. That cost jobs, homes and properties. Let's have a look at financial management. Under the last year of the Howard government there was $60 billion in the nation's piggy bank in credit. At the end of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, there was nothing left of the $60 billion of credit, only a debt approaching $700 billion that was costing Australia $1 million a day in interest to foreign lenders.

Let's have a look at tourism. Under Labor there was no interest in the Barrier Reef and in supporting the tourism jobs there. All they did was tax and scare away any investment in the tourism industry. In the trade area, which is so essential to Australia's future, the Labor government tried and tried for six years. I do not think they could have tried very hard, because they achieved absolutely zero, zilch, nothing. In the two years of the coalition government there have been three trade agreements with our biggest trading partners—Japan, Korea and China. That is a wonderful effort that will create jobs.

I heard the previous speaker talk about climate change. Remember that Australia emits less than 1.2 per cent of all global emissions. What did the Labor Party do? It shut down jobs in manufacturing and mining and exported jobs overseas so Australia could reduce its emissions of carbon by five per cent—five per cent of 1.2 per cent! Gee, that is going to save the world from climate change, isn't it? It was an absolutely ridiculous, ludicrous and nonsensical hoax on the Australian people. A number of jobs that used to be held by Australians were exported overseas in that crazy period of the carbon tax and the mining tax.

Mining, one of the most important job creators, particularly up in the north of Australia, was discouraged by the Labor Party with a mining tax! That tax just sent investment out of Australia to South Africa, South America and even some places that would make you wonder why anyone would dare to go to there. But the mining companies found it safer investing in Africa and South America than in Australia. Why? It was because of the Labor government's retrospective, unexplained and unheralded attacks on mining. That is the Labor government's record of economic leadership.

I will go through those things again to show what good economic leadership can do, starting with shipbuilding. What did the Abbott government do about shipbuilding? We announced contracts for Australian workers. That happened after six years of nothing by Labor. In manufacturing, we got rid of the carbon tax. We brought some sense to the renewable energy target so that Australians can feel confident that their jobs will be there tomorrow, particularly in the cement and aluminium industries, which, had Labor stayed in power, would have continued to be exported overseas because of Labor's crazy policies.

I have mentioned what Labor did with agriculture. By contrast, the coalition government has put out an agriculture white paper on the heels of a white paper on northern Australian development which encourage and support agriculture and show all Australians, but particularly farmers, that we are their friends and that we want to help. The Labor Party and their allies in the Greens would have had you believe that the Barrier Reef was ruined. I regret to say, Senator Waters, in a most un-Australian way, toured the world telling everybody not to go to the Barrier Reef because it was destroyed and damaged, a complete pack of lies—

Senator Waters: Acting Deputy President O'Neill, I raise a point of order. Just to clarify: it was actually government ministers that toured the world. I did not tour the world. I can do my job from Queensland to protect the reef.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Clearly, there is not a point of order. I always get these frivolous points of order when I expose to those who might be listening to this debate the absolute hypocrisy of the Greens political party and the way that they—and Senator Waters in particular—set out to destroy the Barrier Reef and Queensland's wonderful tourism industry. As Senator Waters or anyone would know if they ever bothered to go to the Barrier Reef, it is still one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is something that should be talked up not talked down as Senator Waters and her mates in the Greens political party do.

In trade, Labor could do nothing. I have mentioned that the coalition has three new trade agreements—two confirmed and a third one with China on exactly the same terms and conditions as to employment as others. Suddenly, the Labor Party are opposed to that. Senator Wong, as shadow trade minister, should hang her head in shame. This is an absolute disgrace, and I cannot help thinking that it is the Labor Party returning to their old White Australia roots. Remember the old White Australia policy promoted by the Labor Party? If you did not have white skin, you could not get a job in Australia. Now it seems to me—

Senator Moore: What did the Liberal Party do about it?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: That was the Labor Party policy, wasn't it?

Senator Moore: What did the Liberal Party do about it?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Was it the Labor Party policy? Who introduced that? Was it Arthur Calwell who made some comments about that? I will debate that with you—

Senator Moore interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator O'Neill ): Senator Macdonald, I ask you to make your remarks through the chair please. And Senator—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I would appreciate if you could protect me from these vicious interjections by Senator Moore trying to shout me down in exposing the truth that the White Australia policy was Labor's. In fact, it was Mr Menzies who got rid of that vile policy. The way the Labor Party are going on in this xenophobic way with the China free trade agreement, you would think that some in the party want to return to the 'good old' White Australia policy days. You would almost think that, for some reason, they are anti-Asian or anti-Chinese. There is no fact in their argument. Clearly, the China free trade agreement will create jobs for Australians and wealth for Australians.

All through the coalition government, the approach is to good financial management that does not leave Australia like Greece. Australia has to pay off the debts that it runs up, but the Labor Party have no plan for that. We will do that. At the same time, we will continue to create new jobs, like the 17,000 jobs alone that were created just in August of this year. We will continue to encourage exports, encourage productivity in Australia and get Australia moving. One of the ways that we will do that, of course, is to bring a crooked union movement to account, and the royal commission is doing that. The Abbott and Turnbull governments have everything to be proud of in their economic management, unlike the Labor Party.