When it comes to broadband Liberals are good salesman of lousy product

This is an important public debate around one of the most important pieces of infrastructure to be built in this country this century. It is unfortunate in many respects that the debate that surrounds this important piece of infrastructure does not live up to the importance of the project itself. In his 15-minute submission in this debate the member for Wentworth amused us with an analogy about the salesman who found it very difficult to shift a product. I have got a salesman's analogy of my own and I think it is more apt. The truth that gets told to every salesman who is sent out there to flog a lousy product and the rule of every salesman knows is that if you have got to go out there and flog a lousy product, an inferior product, one that is not nearly as good as the competition, you do not talk about it. You do not talk about your own product—go out there and fling as much mud and do as much nitpicking as possible, do as much bagging and carping and whingeing as possible about your competition's product. But for God's sake never mention your own, because once you mention your own everybody will realise what a lousy product it is. The member for Wentworth actually understands his policy. He does not believe in it but he understands it, unlike the Leader of the Opposition. The most awkward press conference we have seen in the last 12 months was the press conference where the Leader of the Opposition was standing alongside the member for Wentworth to announce their policy. You could see that the member for Wentworth could not get out of there quick enough. His hands were in his pockets, he was fidgeting. The Leader of the Opposition was reading from notes and had a very puzzled look on his face because he did not have a clue what he was talking about. That lies at the heart of this argument. You have got a Leader of the Opposition who does not understand his policy and a spokesman for that policy who does not believe in it. Is there any wonder that they are standing by that salesman's maxim that if you have got a lousy product in the marketplace, don't talk about it. Just go out there and bag the opposition because you do not want anyone to focus on your own product. It is a slower product that is going to cost the punters more for less. These guys have turned Joyce Mayne on her head: they are offering less for more. Continue reading

Using our natural gas reserves to advance national interest

Tonight I want to talk about Australia's natural gas reserves and how they can be best used to generate Australian jobs and provide energy to Australian homes. In a few short weeks, parliament will be over and we will return to our electorates. The campaign for the 2013 election will begin in earnest and debate will be joined on the issues around which the next government will be formed. Elections are always a crowded place for discussing detailed policy, but one issue that is worthy of an important national debate is how we best use our bountiful reserves of natural gas to advance the national interest. Australia is a leader in the supply of natural gas to world markets. Growth in Australian gas and LNG development is set to continue for many years. The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics reports that our LNG exports reach 20 million tonnes, worth $12.4 billion in 2011-12. We will be the third largest exporter in the Asia-Pacific region and the fourth largest in the world. Exports are forecast to exceed 23 million tonnes this year as Western Australia's Pluto facility reaches its full capacity. Seven major LNG projects are under construction representing more than 60 million tonnes of additional capacity and investment in access of $175 billion. When these projects reach capacity, Australia could be the world's No. 1 LNG exporter by around 2017. Yet more gas projects are in the planning, including the Equus project off Western Australia and the Arrow and Browse projects in Queensland. Australia's rapid rise in the global LNG production is due to a number of factors: strong demand from our Asia-Pacific trading partners has seen new projects underwritten by some of the world's largest supplier agreements with customers in Japan, China, Korea and India. Continue reading

Recognising the importance of older Australians

Tonight I want to speak about the importance of seniors, their contribution to our community and the need for policies which meet the needs of the seniors' community. I believe the House should acknowledge that the government has a positive reform agenda for older Australians and is delivering enormous commitments and investments in aged care and promoting positive aged-care issues. For example, the increase in the age pension, which I will talk about; reforming the aged-care system; and helping older Australians stay at work longer. Australia has one of the longest life expectancies in the world—something that we should be celebrating as a nation. With a growing population, over-65-year-olds will represent one in four Australians by 2047. There are great opportunities for our community and for our economy if we encourage healthy ageing, the lifelong development of skills and capitalise on the extensive experience of older Australians. Continue reading

Celebrating 100 years of Port Kembla Branch

On Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending the 100th anniversary of the Port Kembla branch of the Australian Labor Party. The branch was formed in 1913 and pivotal in the formation of the branch were the iron-workers who were then working in the newly established steelworks at Port Kembla. Branch records also show that numerous in the branch at the time were the seafarers and wharfies, together with the shopkeepers who lived in and around Port Kembla. The Port Kembla branch of the Australian Labor Party has always strongly reflected the community in which it is based. The branch today has members from Malta, Macedonia, Greece, Australia, Italy and just about every country that you would find represented in the electorate. It has had an active role in all of the debates that have featured within Labor Party history and indeed Australian history over those 100 years—very fierce debates around issues such as conscription and our roles in our foreign wars. I pay tribute to all of the people who attended and participated in the organisation of this wonderful event. I was very pleased to see there one of my friends Michael Wilson, who is a fourth-generation member of the Australian Labor Party. He, his mother, his sisters and his cousins were in attendance at that meeting. It was an absolutely fantastic event. I also pay tribute to Bobby Turner and Vicky King, the president and the secretary.

Statement on Sports Betting Ads

Sports fans around the country have voiced their outrage at the proliferation of gambling advertising in our sports broadcast. I have been one of the MPs who have been pushing for reform. I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement to introduce new rules that restrict sports bet advertising. It is a big step in the right direction, which sends a clear message to the broadcasters, the sporting codes and corporate bookmakers. From the beginning of the game to the end, promoting live odds is canned. The TV bookies have been kicked out of the stadium. The banners and logos and other promotions will no longer flash across our screens. Some of these measures go further than my private member's bill which was focused on advertising during children's viewing times. This is welcome. It may well not be the last word on the matter. Bookmakers and broadcasters must make these changes happen immediately or parliament will step in. Of course if we want to see sport on free-to-air TV, we have to have some advertising. But corporate bookies, broadcasters and professional codes are now on notice. Gambling and professional sport can coexist but we cannot have a model professional sport or free-to-air broadcasting that is dependent on gambling revenue for its viability. The greatest threat is not from government but from viewers. If broadcasters fill the remaining slots during the broadcast with gambling ads, they will see sports fans walking away from their TV sets. If that happens, other advertisers will wonder why they are paying good money for empty chairs seats.

More awareness and funding needed for childhood brain cancers

The very rare Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma accounts for around five to 10 out of every 100 brain tumours in children. Penny's interest in funding came after the tragic passing of a young Australian boy named Talin Hawkins from a diffuse pontine glioma. Talin's plight drew a huge amount of interest through social media and really increased awareness of the disease and has inspired activists like Penny to fight for a better deal for kids who are affected by this rare and usually incurable cancer.          So Penny came to me with a request. She asked that I raise this matter in parliament to increase awareness and ensure the government is injecting  as much funding as we can into the research of childhood brain cancers and diffuse pontine gliomas. Because they are very difficult to treat, the outcome for pontine gliomas is very poor. After diagnosis,  the survival time is on average only nine to 12 months. To try and improve the outcome, doctors have used higher amounts of radiation and even chemotherapy to kill the tumour cells—but we need to achieve better results. In an exciting breakthrough last year, oncologists from the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia grew Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma cells in the lab and found a drug that was able to kill them in a test tube. Following this, I wrote to the health minister to ask what we can do to increase funding in the area of childhood brain cancers and make sure this lifesaving research is able to continue. I am happy to report that, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian government has made significant investments in the research of childhood brain cancers. During the period of 2000 to 2011, the NHMRC has provided over $33 million for research into brain, eye and nervous system cancers of which $19.9 million specifically targets childhood brain cancer. In 2012, the NHMRC also awarded additional grants as to brain cancer to the tune of $7.1 million. This is a commitment we are determined to see progress as a government and I have been advised by the minister that funding will continue at this level. I have relayed this good news to Penny and hope to keep working with her and other activists to progress the cause and raise awareness and funds in the Illawarra.

Support for the Australian Jobs Bill 2013

I am pleased to be speaking on a bill about Australian jobs. The Labor government supports the Australian Jobs Bill 2013. It is good Labor legislation. I follow the member for Hughes who opposes the bill, because that is what the coalition does—they say no. In his 15-minute dissertation on all things except the matter before the House, we never heard one skerrick on policy about what the coalition would do if they were to sit on this side of the House and deal with the challenges that are currently confronting the manufacturing industry in this country. There is a very simple reason for that: they do not have a policy except to say no. I am pleased to speak about this bill today because it demonstrates the importance that Labor attaches to the manufacturing industry.    As members of parliament—and I see the member for Cunningham in the chamber as well—the member for Cunningham and I represent the areas of Illawarra, and in my case the Southern Highlands as well, and the manufacturing industry is very important. Still over one in 10 jobs in our electorates comes from manufacturing. Manufacturing is critically important. From anywhere in the Illawarra you can see the Port Kembla steelworks, an iconic part of the Illawarra landscape. The blast furnace and smoke stacks are an ever-present part on our horizon. Manufacturing is critical as an employer but also critical in terms of generating wealth and economic opportunities within the region. Continue reading

Appropriation Bills 1 & 2 (2013-14): Growing local economy and jobs

This has been a difficult budget to frame with uncertainty in the world economy, where Eurozone countries have significant debt and double digit unemployment in some countries, with unemployment in some countries well above 15 per cent, with youth unemployment close to a quarter of some youth populations and the unemployment and uncertain outlook in the United States. When we look to some of our major trading partners where we have traditionally looked for growth opportunities, certainly there is significant uncertainty there as well. So there is a difficult global environment and a difficult domestic environment in which to frame a budget, with a drop-off in projected revenues of over $16 billion over the budget period. Within this very difficult environment to frame a budget and to ensure that we keep the Australian economy moving forward, I think the Treasurer has to be commended for the job that he has done. Australia stands alone in the developed world, with record low unemployment with a five in front of it, interest rates at a historic low and low inflation. The economy still continues to grow, but we know that the growth is both fragile and uneven. There are many areas throughout the nation that are not enjoying the benefits of the boom in the resources sector, particularly in areas that have a higher than average exposure to trade and to the impacts of the record high Australian dollar. Continue reading

We need to change the way we are dealing with Live Export Trade

The way we deal with animals in our care speaks volumes about our values. That is why every parent teaches their children the importance of caring for their pets. It does not always follow that people who are kind to animals extend that affection to their fellow human beings, but it is one insight into our humanity. That is why I have expressed more than a little concern in this place and elsewhere about the treatment of livestock in the live export trade. As custodians of these creatures we have a duty of responsibility. When we apply these values to the subject of live animal export we are found wanting. If ever we were able to turn a blind eye to this issue, the internet extends our gaze and our television can bring it into our lounge rooms on an all-too-frequent basis. In recent times we have been shocked at footage of barbaric treatment of animals in slaughterhouses around the world. We cannot distance ourselves from this horror, as we are critical links in the supply chain that ends in this misery. It is not just the end point of the process because, when we export livestock to another country, we know that it is done for a purpose: the animal will be slaughtered for food for others. I have no quarrel with this. Continue reading

Statement on media reform: Australians deserve right of redress

Over the past 48 hours this House has been joined in a fierce debate over proposals for media reform. The member for Wentworth has been strident in his attacks on these proposed reforms, and his defence of the principles of freedom of speech has been a spectacle to behold. I share his passion for a free, robust and independent media. I also understand the value of a right of reply. On 9 August 2006 the member used parliament to set the record straight on what he claimed to be a misrepresentation by the media. He said in this place: I was misrepresented in a number of media outlets, including AAP, the Telegraph, the Australian and the Financial Review. It was attributed to me that I had said that petrol was not an issue in my electorate or that people were not complaining about petrol in my electorate. He then used parliament to set the record straight. As a parliamentarian, he is able to use the Australian parliament to respond to any allegation of misrepresentation by the media. This is a great privilege. Very few Australians enjoy the same privilege. That is why having an effective system for handling complaints of misrepresentation by the media, such as the Press Council and ACMA, is critical. All Australians have the right to have their complaint of misrepresentation dealt with in a fair and reasonable way, not just parliamentarians. We do not have this at present—hence the media reforms before the parliament.