The simple proposition before the House is this: that if an employer or another wants to come to the government and say, 'We require access to a particular type of visa which was designed to address labour market and skill shortages,' then they must be required to demonstrate to the Commonwealth, the government and the minister that there is a shortage and that there is no local worker who is ready, willing and able to fill that position. That is a very simple proposition. When stated like that, you find it very difficult to disagree with the proposition.
Is it any wonder that in their contributions to the debate today the opposition have not addressed the proposition? In fact, they have stooped to their normal cant of casting aspersions on the motives behind those who bring the proposition before the House—their allegiances, their friendships and their former employment, and even their country of birth. But do they address the question before the House? No, they do not. The question before the House is a very simple one and it should enjoy the support of all members in the chamber. I will be very surprised if it does not.
A couple of weeks ago, the member for Batman gave a speech in this House. He described it as his first and last speech as a backbencher. It was a speech that enjoyed applause from around the House. He said something that really stuck in my mind. He said that his priority and the priority of any Labor government should be to get Australian workers into quality jobs that pay well and are secure, and to use that as a vehicle to lift their standards of living. He said that had been the driving force behind all of his work in public life.
That is a statement and proposition which I wholeheartedly agree with. To achieve that you need to have a strong economy. You need to have effective markets, you need to intervene in those markets where they do not deliver fair and just outcomes. That is why we have awards and collective agreements. That is why we have workplace regulation.
I am very pleased to be speaking on this important piece of legislation. I am also very pleased to be following the member for Banks in this debate, who brings to the debate and the subject matter decades of experience as a parliamentarian and, before that, years of experience at the criminal bar. The contributions that he makes must be listened to.
Of course, the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2013 does not stand alone. It is part of a package of reforms that have been introduced by the government since winning office in 2007 which go to the issues of integrity and disclosure. I reference the reforms to the freedom of information provisions within this country, which put in place for the first time a presumption in favour of disclosure, and the abolition of the rorts that were occurring under the previous government such as the use of conclusive certificates, which were used as a device—if not a vice—to ensure that documents and information that should properly be provided to the public on request were prohibited. In equal measure the reforms that this government has put in place in the area of lobbying and lobbyists, to ensure there is greater transparency and greater regulation in this area, also take up public integrity measures, which is a great step forward in ensuring that there is a register of lobbyists for those who come to this place seeking to influence parliamentarians. In addition to that, there are prohibitions on ministerial staff engaging in lobbyist work for a period of time after they leave their ministerial employment.
I would like to pay tribute to the GAVI Alliance, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, that funds vaccines for children in the world's 70 poorest countries. It is fantastic that GAVI has recently negotiated to dramatically slash the cost of the vaccine used to prevent cervical cancer.
Globally, 270,000 women die of cervical cancer every year. The vast majority, over 85 per cent of those, are in the developing world. HPV is an extremely common infection. One in two women will get it in our lifetime. In the developing world, it is more likely to persist and more likely to lead to the development of cervical cancer. In countries like Australia, it costs $100 a dose to vaccinate against HPV.
GAVI Alliance has changed the economics of access to this vaccine by driving a hard bargain with the makers of the vaccines. Because GAVI are buying for 60 per cent of the world's birth cohort and buying over multiple-year periods, they have been able to negotiate a bulk price for the vaccine. The new price per vaccine is $4.50. This means that millions more women can be vaccinated out of the pool of aid funding in developing countries.
In many of these countries, women with cervical cancer die because, by the time it is diagnosed, it is too late for preventative treatment or the drastic therapy which cannot be obtained easily in the developing world. That is why, for women in developing countries, prevention through vaccination is a life-saving option. Well done, GAVI.
With great pleasure I rise to speak on the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013, which would provide a modest amendment to our Constitution for the recognition of local government for the purposes of financial grants from the Commonwealth to local governments. I listened with great interest to the member for Hughes in his contribution and was surprised to hear some of the claims that he made. I will deal with them first before addressing some of the substance of the bill.
If you listened to the member the Hughes, there were two concerns raised in his contribution. The first concern was that somehow this was a massive overreach of central government into the affairs which have traditionally been the privilege of state governments and that this is somehow improper. We have seen similar claims made by a former senator for South Australia, Nick Minchin, and more recently by others on that side of politics. I find it very strange that these claims are made because they come from the only party, as far as I am aware, which has introduced laws and come to arrangements in this parliament, together with other parliaments around the country, which tie to grants made to independent organisations political requirements that those organisations do not speak out against the policies or decisions of the government of the day. If the member for Hughes or the former senator for South Australia were so concerned that financial grants via this or any other level of government would somehow tie, inhibit or constrain the political independence of a local government or any other organisation in this country then I suspect those concerns would be best voiced in their party rooms and not in the parliament. It is the Liberal and National parties in this country that have a track record of ensuring that there is political constraint on the grant finances to independent organisations, not those on this side of the House. If they are concerned about the political interference in independent bodies, raise them in their party rooms. Raise those objections, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, but also in Victoria, where coalition governments in those states are including those constraints within their contractual arrangements with independent bodies at this very point in time.