Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Page: 7451


Senator BULLOCK (Western Australia) (15:13): I too rise to take note of the answers by Senator Cash. I should say at the outset that there is a lot to like about Senator Cash. Firstly, she is a West Australian and that naturally is an enormous advantage!

Senator Nash: Hear, hear to that!

Senator BULLOCK: Secondly, and I say this as a former secretary of the Western Australian Hairdressers and Wigmakers Union, Senator Cash is to be congratulated for consistent and ongoing support for our industry! Thirdly, there is her renowned theatricality: her demonstrative hand gestures and her propensity in pursuit of emphasis to overstate her case. She could, for example, lay the blame for the downfall of civilisation on a combination of the incompetence and malignant intent of 'those opposite'—a sentiment with which I could have some sympathy, albeit from the different perspective of this side of the chamber!

It is, however, this practice of overstatement—more so even than her cruelty to vowels—which opens the senator to well-deserved criticism. Take for example, her answer to the question as to how many new jobs would be created by the China, Japan and Korea free trade agreements. Undoubtedly swept away by her enthusiasm for FTAs, she advised the Senate yesterday—it was slightly corrected today—that up to 178,000 jobs would be created by the time the agreements came fully into force in 2035. I am reminded of a song by Frank Sinatra extolling the virtue of having high hopes, but high hopes are no substitute for the facts.

I have here a report by the Centre for International Economics, prepared for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the economic benefits of Australia's North Asian FTAs, dated 12 June this year. On page 35 it sets out the employment impact for Australia of the North Asian FTAs, year by year, for every year from 2016 till 2035. I have added up all of the figures on this page for all of the years, and they come to 178,568—just like Senator Cash said. Unfortunately for Senator Cash, I can read as well as add up, and the introduction to the table at the top of the page helpfully explains how to interpret it. It says:

This table should be interpreted in the same manner as the other results in this report … For example, we expect there to be 7925 more people employed in 2016 if the FTAs are implemented compared to if they aren’t implemented. Similarly, in 2020 there would be 14,566 more jobs if the FTAs are implemented compared to what would be the case in 2020 if the FTAs were not implemented.

So there it is. The figures set out against each year indicate the total number of new jobs expected to have been created from the inception of the FTAs until that year—not in that year. So, when this report states that there will be 5,434 jobs, next to the year 2035, it means that 5,434 jobs will be created by 2035—not in 2035. Five thousand four hundred and thirty-four new jobs is a far cry from 178,568 new jobs. One hundred and seventy-eight thousand is a wild exaggeration of the employment impact of the FTAs. The Senate is not assisted by wild exaggerations by Senator Cash in answering questions. It is this propensity for wild exaggerations which led one of my colleagues to suggest to me this morning that Senator Cash was loose with the truth. I might not use such colourful language myself, but Australia deserves a minister in the critically important Employment portfolio who can be trusted to stick to the facts and is not prone to wild exaggeration.

The practice of presenting a vision of the world as she wishes it might be, rather than as it actually is, was evident once again in the controversy over the $12 million in cuts to the budget of community legal services nationally. These cuts are very clear to everyone in the sector, including Ms Liana Buchanan, who 'was surprised and appalled to hear a government minister providing such false information to the public'. The false information was Senator Cash's insistence that the $12 million in cuts was simply a false and misleading campaign by legal centres. Given that $12 million in cuts can be transformed into merely a 'false and misleading campaign', and 5,434 jobs— (Time expired)