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Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Page: 8293

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:10): It gives me great pleasure to follow Senator McAllister, who was very determined to talk about Labor's track record in innovation. Labor's history of innovation, of course, lies within the union movement: when they want to innovate and when they want to rejuvenate the union movement, they take the tired old union workhorses and shuffle them off into the Senate, where they can mouth the latest platitudes in order to assuage the Australian people, use some buzzwords, use plenty of acronyms and, hopefully, establish that they are somehow innovate people. During her speech, I challenged Senator McAllister to outline exactly what NICTA stands for. She was unable and unwilling to do so. What about the acronym ANSTO? Could she please elaborate on what that stood for? She was unable and unwilling to do so. The shallow rhetoric of those opposite is apparent for all Australians to see. If you want to go through their buzzwords, we have seen them: 'spatially' and 'collaboratively', and they have all been used because they are meant to make people feel good.

But let us have a look at the track record of those opposite. For Senator Carr, in his innovation ministry, the highlight to me was when he decided that he would have a program and a policy of sending text messages into outer space in the hope of getting a response from some alien being! For the atheists on that side of the chamber, they were hoping for divine innovation, but they were simply sending things into outer space in the hope of some innovative enlightenment from above. It was nonsense then; it is nonsense now. They have no substance. They are shallow and full of poppycock.

What this country needs is reform. It needs genuine innovation, and that does not come from sending 180 characters to Mars! It comes from corporate reform. It comes from a very agile, diligent and adaptive corporate sector. It comes from taxation reform that does not take away the incentives for people to work harder, to go out and get a job and to help themselves move from a welfare to a work mentality. It comes from reform that is going to encourage people to get into business. It takes industrial relations reform where people are encouraged to employ people, without the fear of being stuck in difficult circumstances or unable to pay their bills. It requires flexibility. It requires a truly innovative approach, not the tired old rhetoric and not the same ham-fisted centralised government initiatives and the ridiculous positions and policies that have been pursued previously. It also requires government reform. Government itself needs to be more agile. It needs to accept the fact that the central command planned economy that has been so loved by the socialists on the other side—particularly the former minister for innovation, Senator Carr—is yesterday's failure. It is no longer the way for a modern country to adapt, grow and prosper. We need to empower individuals. We need to empower individuals to innovate, to take risks, to build businesses, to employ, to grow our economy and to generate wealth. It is not government that does that. Government is an impediment to that, and it needs to get out of the way.

If you want true innovation in this country, you also need to have educational reform, not slogans like, 'I give a Gonski,' or anything like that. You actually need to give people educations that generate value in the community. You need to equip people with skills that are of financial value to others in the community, because, that way, they are always going to get a job and they are always going to have a chance to get ahead. We need to make sure, as I said, that people are encouraged to pursue the riskier options, if you will, of entrepreneurship, where they can say 'I'm going to have a go at this and maybe it will work and if it doesn't work I'll pick myself up again and I'll have another go and another go and another go.' That is the culture that we need to foster in this country, not this central command and bureaucracy. We do not need the bigger taxes that have been advocated by the other side; we do not need the corporate impediments that limit the job growth and the technological growth that can promote our prosperity into the future.