Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (19:21): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the legislation before the House. It concerns dumping, but it also fits within the context of Australia as a free-trading nation, and I would like to make some observations about this before dealing with the details of the bill. Australia has been a leading advocate of free trade for more than two decades. While we have seen enormous benefits, such as greater market access for our exports and cheaper imports of everything from TVs, PCs and the shoes and clothes that we wear, it has not been without cost—massive restructuring of the economy and even greater exposure to the vicissitudes of international markets.
Governments simply must win support for open trade. The best way to do that is to show that there are benefits for Australians—as consumers, as businesses and as workers. It is not always easy, particularly when governments make populist decisions and give a nod to economic xenophobia. It is one thing to argue that the roll-back of protection has led to more efficient local industry, to cheaper cars and to electrical goods, but this is cold comfort to those who have lost their job, had to close their business or to send offshore some or all of their production.
Put simply , if we can not demonstrate that open trade exists within a set of rules, that these rules are fair and that everyone must stick to them , then we lose the argument. Moreover, we must be able to show that when someone breaks the rules there are consequences. The rules are contained in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in other bilateral agreements. They allow signatories to impose corrective measures to respond to dumping of goods and certain subsidies known as countervailing measures . The W orld Trade Organisation oversees the rules. In Australia the rules are also overseen by the courts.
Some argue that the imposition of a tariff in response to dumping or for any other purpose is a retreat to protectionism that distorts the efficient allocation of resources in Australia and props up inefficient industries. Others go further and argue that if a company or a country is willing to subsidise Australian consumers by selling us goods which are heavily subsidised or at below cost , we should grab it with both hands. I argue that t his is short-sighted. Importing goods at below cost may provide some short-term windfalls for some con sumers but at the price of long- term headwinds for open trade—the factory worker who loses his job, the farmer who loses access to a local market who will turn their sights on a bigger target , to the whole system of open trade itself. A point was made by the Productivity Commission, albeit half- heartedly , when it accepted in its 2009 r eview of Australia's antidumping laws that o ur antidumping framework was about ' system preservation ' .
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (10:54): The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cash Bidding) Bill 2013 and related bill deal with our energy security and the efficient allocation of rights to explore for petroleum related resources. A stable and internationally competitive offshore exploration investment regime is critical to this objective. I think that view is shared by members of all the major parties in this country.
Each year the Commonwealth engages with stakeholders and releases offshore petroleum exploration acreage for competitive bidding by those in the industry who wish to prospect and explore. The amendments in these bills before the House introduce a range of tools to achieve a more efficient allocation of exploration permits. They are not new. In 2012 the Labor government made an announcement that we would introduce cash bidding for offshore petroleum permits. In fact, this returns to a system that had previously been used in Australia in the mid-1980s. In fact, it was used up until 1992. It has been used successfully in other jurisdictions including in the United States in the Gulf of Mexico, where they have massive resources and a lot of interest from explorers to exploit those resources. It has also been used recently in Queensland for onshore coal tenement titles. It has been proven around the world to be one of the more effective means of having an open and transparent mechanism for distributing these rights and ensuring that there is a fair return to taxpayers.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (12:15): I am delighted to be speaking on the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, along with the associated bills, the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Amendment Bill 2013 and the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Amendment Bill 2013.
As the member for Murray rightly points out, it enjoys support across the chamber. In fact a version of the bill was first introduced into the 43rd Parliament by the then government on 19 June this year. The bills did pass through the House of Representatives but unfortunately did not get through the Senate by the time the parliament was prorogued in August this year and, as a result, the bills lapsed. They now come before the House in substantially identical form to that which was presented before the 43rd Parliament.
It is important subject matter, important legislation, because it goes to food and our capacity to produce it not only now but also in the future. We know that Australia is presented with a great challenge but also a great opportunity when it comes to feeding the world and ensuring that we can meet the demand for a growing middle class, particularly in our region, and a growing demand for our food, particularly our protein related agriculture.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (10:42): I move:
That this House notes that:
(1) as identified by Infrastructure Australia, we are an urban nation with four-fifths of our population and economic activity occurring in our cities;
(2) Australia's growing cities have a strategic need for greater public transport capacity to meet the growing transport task, ease urban road congestion and ensure improved national productivity;
(3) this urban transport task is a joint Australian and state government responsibility;
(4) recognising this, Labor in government invested $13 billion—more Commonwealth funding for public transport than all other governments since Federation—and this investment in urban transport projects, put forward and assessed through Infrastructure Australia, resulted in a significant boost to the strategic development of Australia's public transport network; and
(5) urban public transport projects including the Brisbane Cross River Rail project, the Perth Public Transport Package and the Tansley Park Public Transport Package in Adelaide are nationally significant projects and are not guaranteed to proceed without Australian Government funding.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (20:51): I am a union member. I am also a father. I have been a lawyer, a community worker, a bar attendant, a building worker and a teacher. I have done many, many jobs in my life before coming to this parliament, and I apologise for absolutely none of them.
The bill before the House, the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, is everything about the union-bashing agenda of the Abbott government and those who follow in its train. Those opposite are absolutely obsessed with demonising unions, their leaders and the important work that they do on a daily basis in protecting ordinary working women and men.
I am an unapologetic defender of the special role that unions play in our society. There is no other organisation that has the reach, the resources, the capacity and the inclination to challenge tyranny in the way that Australian unions can and do—irrespective of who is in government. Unions are not without fault, but we are a more civilised country in Australia today because they exist.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (09:54): Like a lot of offices in this place, my office has been inundated by questions from concerned constituents about the future rollout of the National Broadband Network and they are right to be concerned. One day they see NBN trucks rolling down the street, hauling cables; the next day they have disappeared. One day they log onto the NBN website and see their suburb and their street registered on the map; the next day it has disappeared with no warning, no apology and no explanation. Just today it has been revealed that 40 workers contracted to work on the rollout of the NBN in the Illawarra region have lost their jobs because there is no certainty about the future of the project in our region. The mood of the electorate is summed up well in this letter to the editor of the Illawarra Mercury from a constituent, Mr David Taylor:
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:54): The previous Labor government, in its wisdom, established a proceeds of crime fund. The essence of the fund was to ensure that the ill-gotten gains from crime were recycled into community projects which could ensure we could divert people, particularly young people, from criminal activity and help to get their lives back on track. Against this background, it is of deep concern to members on this side of the House and constituents within my electorate that at Senate estimates this week the senator for Queensland and the minister responsible, the Attorney-General, advised that the government effectively intended to pocket the proceeds of crime. They are not proceeding with a range of announcements that were made by the previous government earlier this year including distribution from the $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund to projects in my electorate run by the PCYC.
Deputy Speaker Scott, you could not find a more apolitical organisation than the PCYC and you would not find an organisation within the community that had more respect than the PCYC. Therefore, it is baffling beyond belief that the government has decided not to proceed with a distribution from the proceeds of crime fund to fund a project in my electorate to get kids out of crime and have their lives put back on track.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:58): I would like to take this opportunity to raise my concerns about the home of soccer in the Illawarra. Soccer is the most popular sport in the Illawarra and the Illawarra has been a nursery ground for national and international champions, both men and women, within the sport. In recognition of this depth of strength in the region, I worked very closely with Football South Coast and RDA Illawarra together with the member for Grayndler and the member for Ballarat to ensure that there was funding available for a new home for soccer in the Illawarra. In the 2013-14 budget, $7.5 million was set aside to get halfway towards building the new $15-million facility. It would be a world class all-weather pitch with training facilities for youngsters, a club house, parking facilities and new grandstands thereby dragging the Illawarra and its soccer playing facilities well into the 21st century.
Unfortunately, we know that there is now a big cloud over the future of this facility. I call on members of the government and members of the Liberal Party to get behind this important project to ensure that the young kids in the Illawarra and the future champions from the Illawarra have the opportunity to play on the sorts of facilities that are available to soccer players in capital cities right around the country. I urge members opposite to support this important facility.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:45): Despite the heavy rain last weekend, 6,000 people lined the streets of the Illawarra, waving banners and cheering on the 755 trucks and 860 motorbikes taking part in the annual Camp Quality Convoy fundraiser. Starting at Illawarra Coal's West Cliff Colliery on Appin Rd, the trucks and bikes follow a route down the mountain, through southern Illawarra and finish at Croome Road in Albion Park Rail in my electorate of Throsby.
The convoy is now in its ninth year and has raised more than $4 million dollars over this time. This sum includes public donations; however, the majority of the money is raised through competitive bidding wars between local companies for the privilege of being the lead vehicle in the pack of over a thousand.
The event generated over $1 million dollars last year alone, but it looks to eclipse this record in 2013, with the lead truck from Coastal Windows in Albion Park donating a whopping $114,000. All proceeds go to Camp Quality, who help more than one in three kids battling cancer in Australia. These are kids like seven-year-old Ruby Marriott, who lives in Mount Warrigal, in my electorate of Throsby. Ruby has been battling leukaemia since she was 4½. Fortunately, she is now in remission but will never forget the fun and games and ability to make her feel 'normal' that Camp Quality gave her during some of her toughest hours.
I commend the generosity of the Illawarra community and local initiatives like the convoy—without which, charities like Camp Quality could not keep providing services for children like Ruby.
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (19:13): These bills will repeal, amongst other things, the carbon tax. If it were as simple as that then you would see many members on this side of the House voting in favour of the legislation. Unfortunately, it is not. The legislation goes much further. It removes the legislated cap on carbon emissions, a legislated cap that had bipartisan support until the introduction of this legislation into the House. By removing the Climate Change Authority in one fell swoop it attempts to silence the critics of the government when it comes to economic and scientific advice on the best way to deal with carbon emissions. It removes millions of dollars granted to businesses to help them deal with reducing their carbon emissions through grants that were put in place by the previous government, and does much, much more indeed.
Speaker after speaker on this matter have stood here and asked that those on our side of the chamber respect a mandate. The truth is this: each and every one of us who have been lucky to be returned or freshly elected to this place comes here with a mandate: a mandate to implement policies that they put before the electors in their electorate. I did this, and I can tell you that the mandate I have is to ensure that we take strong action on reducing our carbon emissions, and that we do that through the repeal of the carbon tax and the implementation of an emissions trading scheme. Our proposition before the parliament does exactly that.