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Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Page: 7410

Senator DAY (South Australia) (12:45): Firstly, I thank you for your acknowledgement from last night, Senator. I believe that these amendments are very important for Australia's competitiveness. They correct an error in the government's bill, which would lock in a one-size-fits-all enterprise arrangement regardless of whether the new enterprise or project is in Berri, in Burnie, in Broome or anywhere else.

Senator Whish-Wilson: Or Bunbury or Busselton?

Senator DAY: Or Bunbury. We have already had a B in WA!

Why are these amendments to the provisions of the bill concerning greenfields projects so important? In my discussions with my colleagues, many acknowledged that there is a major problem in job creation regarding greenfields sites around Australia. Here are some data proving that Senator Cameron is wrong and that Australia does have a problem with the conditions for greenfields projects. First, the data shows that the costs of greenfields exploration are now six times higher than they are for brownfields exploration. In 2014-15, exploration expenditure per metre drilled on new greenfield deposits was nearly $700 per metre compared with just one $110 per metre on existing brownfields deposits. The cost differential between greenfields and brownfields exploration has never been higher. The differential or the gap between greenfields projects and brownfields projects is getting higher and higher. In 2014, greenfield exploration accounted for just one-quarter of total metres drilled.

What is all this saying? It is saying that we have a problem with greenfields projects, where, suddenly, you will have to adopt an EBA from somewhere else across Australia. That EBA will not take into account local circumstances. Like I say, whether it is Busselton, Bunbury or Broome in WA; Berri in South Australia; Bendigo in Victoria—

Senator Whish-Wilson: Or Ballarat?

Senator DAY: Or Ballarat in Victoria. We can keep alliterating all afternoon, if we like, but I think that I have made my point.

I think that this is really, really important. I think that the government have missed the boat on this. I do not think that they quite realise just how important it is. When you set up a new enterprise or a new project on a new greenfields site, the unique circumstances of a particular geographical region are so important, whether it is a canning factory or a petrochemical plant in Shepparton—and I will start with the S names, if you like! My home state of South Australia does not have the cost of living and cost base of a project in, say, Western Sydney. New projects will be locked out of my home state of South Australia. New greenfields projects will not be able to compete and they will not be able to set up, because they will be locked into an industry-wide EBA, which they will have to pick off the shelf from somewhere else. Yes, you can make submissions to the Fair Work Commission and start hacking away at an existing enterprise bargaining agreement from somewhere else, but we all know what happens there. My proposal is that, for a new site, you will start with a new EBA. I thank the minister and the shadow minister for their contributions. I commend my amendment to the Senate.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7577 be agreed to.