Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Oct 24, 2018

Aviation Transport Security Amendment Bill 2018 – Second Reading – Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The bill before us is based on the view that one existing security requirement, the creation of what are known as transport security plans, is placing an unacceptably high administrative burden on small airports that are assessed as less at-risk than large airports in our major cities. There is no suggestion of any change relating to our major domestic or our international airports. But we do have to ask ourselves whether it makes sense to require operators of a small airstrip in a rural area to adopt the same security measures as, say, Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport or Melbourne Airport. This legislation responds to expert advice which concluded that, when it comes to these smaller airports, the level of red tape involved in the TSP process is excessive when weighed against the security threats which these airports face. Accordingly, the legislation proposes the creation of a model TSP for small industry participants. This model would ensure that operators were aware of their responsibilities under the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004. It would allow operators of airports assessed as low risk to focus on implementing and maintaining the robust measures in their plan rather than focus on red tape and reports for the Commonwealth. It is an issue of informed risk management.

It’s important to note that most of these smaller airports are owned by local government. Local ratepayers pay sometimes substantial funds in terms of a proportion of a small rural or regional local government body as a percentage of their overall budget. Therefore, reducing the administrative burden on these airport operators is really common sense. The opposition will be supporting this legislation. It has broad support across the aviation sector and across the owners and operators of these airports. It has also been positively examined by the appropriate Senate committee.

Arrangements concerning TSPs are contained in the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004. A transport security plan sets out the measures and procedures that industry participants need to implement to meet their regulatory obligations. The plans must demonstrate that operators are aware of their responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of aviation security; have in place an integrated, responsible and proactive approach to managing aviation security; have the capacity to meet the specific obligations imposed under the act; and have taken into account their local security risk context in developing activities and strategies for managing aviation security.

Transport security plans are assessed and approved by the Department of Home Affairs. When it comes to our busy capital city or major regional city airports, transport security plans are critical tools for the maintenance of public safety. It’s appropriate that major airports develop plans that are specific for the infrastructure and the local environment that those airports operate in. The major airports must not only commit themselves to safety but also be able to demonstrate their preparedness to act when action is required. But, when it comes to smaller operators with lower security risks, the government has concluded that reform is necessary, and I think that the government is right.

At this point, it is appropriate to consider exactly how the Department of Home Affairs assesses risk when it comes to airports. Accordingly to the explanatory memorandum, risk assessments are informed by intelligence and characteristics of industry participants, such as location, proximity to important pieces of infrastructure, passengers numbers and the types of services being provided. Risk profiles can change based on changes to these factors. For example, an airport might experience a sharp increase in passenger numbers, or it might commence new services involving larger aircraft.

The bill before us would release smaller airports with low-risk profiles from the requirement to create individual, tailor-made transport security plans. Instead, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, or that person’s delegate, will be able to give an airport a secretary-issued transport security plan. Essentially this is a model transport security plan. Instead of having to spend considerable funds developing unique plans, this model will be able to be applied across smaller airports. This model will set out the operators’ obligations, but it won’t require them to produce detailed planning documents and assessments explaining their obligations, based on the fact that they have been assessed as low risk.

It’s always been my view, on issues of transport safety, that the parliament should work collaboratively and heed the advice of the experts. The real question we face with this bill is whether we can be assured that, in reducing red tape for small airports, we will not be reducing security standards. The Australian Airports Association, which represents 340 airports, ranging from small airstrips in rural and regional areas to large international airports, has come to the view that the changes will support current security outcomes. The Northern Territory government, which administers many of the smaller airstrips that will be affected by this change, also supports the bill—in fact, it’s been arguing that it might not go quite far enough.

The Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee has examined the bill and correctly focused on the critical question of the need to weigh risk against expense and red tape. The committee recommended that the parliament support this legislation. It said in its recommendations:

The committee considers security in aviation to be critically important in ensuring the safety of all Australians. However, security requirements should be commensurate with the level of risk, as should the administrative burden imposed by such requirements.

The committee considers that the bill provides this kind of risk-based approach to security requirements in the aviation industry. The measures in the bill would benefit government and industry, as well as the general public, by reducing the regulatory burden on certain industry participants while maintaining security outcomes.

This is a sensible approach on behalf of the Senate committee.

I make this point. I have expressed some concern about aviation security being transferred to the Department of Home Affairs, because the Department of Home Affairs doesn’t have the same level of expertise that historically aviation security, being placed within the department of infrastructure, with an experienced aviation sector, has had. I have cautioned the government to ensure that, whenever it proposes an increase in security measures, it ensures that this is indeed practical. If you increase arrangements in regional airports to the point where those regional airports cannot operate commercially and shut down then you have achieved an objective of ensuring there can be no security incidents because you won’t have any passengers and you won’t have any flights! I think that some of the proposals that have been floated raise that very concern. I say to the members opposite—there are members here who represent regional communities, and I know that those communities rely very much upon aviation—they must ensure that those proposals are examined critically. I take the view that—and I have said this to the minister—aviation security should never be an issue of partisan debate in this parliament, ever. We have not done that. When I was the minister, that didn’t occur either. We work on the basis of the national interest when it comes to these issues. But I am concerned that people might literally be put out of business if we take the advice of some people who regard themselves as security experts, who don’t have the practical experience of the reality of running some of these smaller airports in our regions.

I say that in a spirit of cooperation about the legislation before us today, which does represent common sense. It is a commonsense response to an issue that some would regard as a loosening of provisions. I don’t regard it as that. I regard it as just a commonsense provision that will produce outcomes that are just as secure but without having the cost that individual transport security plans currently incur.

We have a view that we should always listen to the experts on issues of transport security and safety. Equally, we must always work cooperatively in this parliament to secure the best outcomes. Last time we were in government, we made some difficult decisions, rolling out the latest security technology at the nation’s airports, including next-generation body scanners, multiview X-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid based explosives.

These issues are difficult. Indeed, when we proposed the introduction of the full-body scanners, there were some who suggested that this would undermine civil liberties and would create privacy issues. We ensured that we used the best technology possible. We even had installed, up on the second floor, full-body scanners so that members of parliament, staff and journalists could go through and see precisely what would occur in practice with the operation of these full-body scanners, which of course don’t identify anything other than a generic male and a generic female when they go through those body scanners. The issues of privacy which were raised have not arisen, and I’m not aware of any controversy at all behind the implementation of that policy. The then opposition, under Warren Truss as the shadow minister for infrastructure and transport, worked cooperatively with me.

I say to the government that that cooperation needs to continue as it moves forward and we address new challenges raised by the fact that those who would do us harm are nimble, from time to time, and government responses therefore have to be nimble as well. When we were in government, we also improved cargo screening and tightened arrangements around the Aviation Security Identification Card scheme, and we improved training of screening staff. We take aviation security very seriously, as we should as a parliament.

I commend this bill to the House. I congratulate the government on coming up with a proposal that will, I believe, maintain security while reducing costs. That’s a good outcome for the nation.

Oct 24, 2018

Matters of Public Importance – Infrastructure – Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:11): This week, the Prime Minister went into his party room, and he spoke about how they couldn’t do the hokey-pokey. They couldn’t move to the left or the right, and it reminded me of Reservoir Dogs. It reminded me of the scene with Mr Blonde and Marvin. There’s Mr Blonde torturing Marvin, like this government’s torturing the Australian people, and in the background is playing Stuck In The Middle With You, by Stealers Wheel:

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

That’s this Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who’s incapable of moving to the left and incapable of moving to the right.

They’re incapable of having an energy policy. They’re incapable. Even when they put funding in the budget for infrastructure projects, guess what? They don’t announce them. They just sit there. We rely upon not the Treasurer on budget night to announce projects but the good burghers of the Herald Sun to announce important projects like the Rockhampton Ring Road, the Mackay Ring Road stage 2, Cairns southern access stage 5 or the Linkfield Road overpass, in the member for Dickson’s electorate. It goes between Dickson and Petrie.

Guess what? We’ve already announced funding for that project. We’ve already announced it in conjunction with the Queensland state government.

Western Sydney rail—there’s an idea. The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, announced funding for that at the New South Wales ALP conference in June. The North-South Corridor in Adelaide—we’ve already seen projects like Torrens to Torrens open recently and new projects that we announced in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

What’s in common with all of those projects is that Labor has been out there, once again, leading from opposition when it comes to infrastructure. The Adelaide tram extensions—when we proposed support for AdeLINK in the lead-up to the 2016 election and in the lead-up to the South Australian state election last year, continually, those opposite dismissed that program.

And then they have the city deal fund. The city deal fund, so-called, is projects in Geelong and in Darwin: Darwin, $100 million; Geelong, $150 million. We know what they are. We know what the projects are, but they won’t actually announce them, in terms of Geelong, until after the Victorian state election.

When it comes to infrastructure policy, the government are all about the politics and not substance. That’s why they have sidelined Infrastructure Australia—a system established so that you could have business cases submitted, a proper assessment and then government decisions made on the basis of that objective evidence, rather than on the basis of the electoral map. What they did when they came to office was cut funds from projects that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia, such as the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane and the Melbourne metro project, and funded projects, some of which—Perth Freight Link, for example—even state governments didn’t know what they were for or where they went to. You had projects that had been on the list, like the East West Link, which had a cost-benefit of 45c return for every dollar invested. They moved funding away from projects that had been through a process and gave it to projects that hadn’t.

When you look at the actual investment of this government, in the 2017-18 budget there’s some $7.2 billion. That declines over the forward estimates to $4.5 billion in 2021-22. It’s 4.5; it was 7.2. That’s less. There are cuts each and every year. Indeed, over the decade—the Parliamentary Budget Office has independently analysed it—infrastructure investment will decline by half, from 0.4 per cent of GDP to 0.2 per cent over that period. What’s more, even when they do make announcements on budget night, they don’t actually deliver them. In the first four years, the difference between what was announced on budget night and what was actually invested in projects like black spots, Western Sydney road infrastructure, and the heavy vehicle safety program was $4.7 billion.

It’s not surprising that they don’t know what they’re doing. We’ve had five infrastructure ministers over the last five years. We’ve had countless urban infrastructure ministers. They come and they go. I can’t even keep count of them all. Most of them disappear from the parliament. On this side of the House, we’ve had one shadow infrastructure minister during that time. The fact is that the mob opposite have denied communities investment over five years. What that does is: if you don’t have a pipeline of projects, it’s a drag on economic productivity, it’s a drag on jobs, and it has an impact on economic growth in the medium and long term.

The government will say that they do have some projects. They’ll say that they’re investing off-budget in projects like Inland Rail. When the Inland Rail project was first assessed, by the ARTC, it wasn’t intended that the concept of ‘inland’ be taken quite so literally. This is a project that doesn’t go to a port anywhere. It doesn’t go to Brisbane. It doesn’t go to Melbourne. You’ll have double-decker trains that will stop at Acacia Ridge and will then have to be put onto trucks and carried—I’m not quite sure how they’ll get to the port. They did that, of course, to distort the economics of the project, because the most expensive bit of a project is that which goes through urban areas, through the city of Brisbane. That distortion is very much there.

The government also say, ‘We’ve got money for the Melbourne airport link.’ Now, everyone knows that public transport projects are beneficial to the national economy. What they don’t do is make money. What they don’t do is produce fare revenue that’s higher than the maintenance and operating costs. On average, it’s between 20 and 25 per cent. So the benefit to the national economy is indirect. But those opposite would have you think that not only will the Melbourne Airport rail link not produce a return in terms of operating and maintenance costs, it won’t even begin to pay back the original capital. If you’re going to have an equity investment, that’s what it has to do. That’s what commerce 1A suggests needs to happen. That’s what the head of the ARTC, for example, John Fullerton, has said before Senate estimates, just won’t happen, in terms of a return on capital on the Inland Rail. So those opposite are looking for false ways in which to pretend that they’re investing, when it won’t actually happen.

When it comes to high-speed rail, of course, there’s a billion and a half they’re going to announce for a high-speed rail project somewhere—or faster rail, whatever that means—rather than actually getting serious about high-speed rail down the east coast of Australia. The fact is that those opposite are so divided that they’re incapable of action. The only thing that’s worse than a government that is doing the wrong thing is a government that’s actually doing nothing. We see it in this chamber with the failure to back up their own legislation with speakers. We see it with their failure to actually get out there and announce projects that have been announced months ago by the Herald Sun and were included in the budget in six months time. Perhaps it’s the case that what they have is investing in the never-never, in 10 and 15 years time, because for a lot of their projects that’s exactly what they have done. They have no vision on infrastructure and they have no investment.

(Time expired)

Oct 24, 2018

Questions Without Notice – Infrastructure – Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:20): My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. I refer to reports in the Herald Sun on 2 September that, in the budget, funding for 10 infrastructure projects—including the Rockhampton Ring Road, the Mackay Ring Road stage 2, the Linkfield Road overpass and the Western Sydney rail—were all secretly approved but not announced. At a time when road toll is rising and congestion in our cities is worsening, why is the government sitting on these projects and not delivering them?
Oct 24, 2018

Statements by Members – Wentworth By-Election – Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will withdraw that.

Mr ALBANESE: I withdraw. They were in a forum saving Australia from the Left. You can imagine what it was like: ‘How can we subsidise coal some more? How can we punish asylum seekers more? How can we support more discrimination?’ These are the precise policies that drove the people of Wentworth away from the Liberal Party. They were there, in the heartland of Wentworth the night before, essentially campaigning for Kerryn Phelps, because anyone who was there that night would have been driven away from the Liberal Party—the right wing of the Liberal Party, frightened of the present but terrified of the future.

Oct 22, 2018

Shipping Registration Amendment Bill 2018 – Second Reading – Monday, 22 October 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:03): I rise today to speak on the Shipping Registration Amendment Bill 2018. This bill will make minor amendments to the shipping registration process in order to modernise the system. The amendments remove the shipping registration certificate from existing regulations and allow them to be directly approved by the national regulator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. By taking the certificate forms out of the regulations, they can be updated and changed as needed, without going through the lengthy process of amending the regulations themselves.

The bill includes a suite of other minor associated reforms, including requiring the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to publish forms on its website, clarifying responsible authorities for a variety of existing provisions, creating the ability for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to exempt some ships from ship marking requirements—for example, heritage ships—and allowing the authority to specify the forms that must be used in applications for shipping registration.

Labor support these minor reforms, but we are somewhat disappointed that, whilst the government are bringing forward legislation on these very minor reforms, what they’re not doing is addressing the need for an Australian shipping industry to actually get the support of the government—indeed, at each and every step they are busy undermining it. We know that Australia does need a domestic shipping sector. The combined value of our sea-going exports is over $400 billion every year. That represents about one-quarter of our GDP. Our shipping task is in fact the fifth largest in the world. This industry is simply critical to the health of our nation. But this government is overseeing an industry in decline as Australia’s merchant fleet and its proud workforce are disappearing.

I’ve spoken many times in this chamber on the importance of Australian shipping, but there are some points that are worthy of repeating because it seems that the government just doesn’t get it. The existence of a vibrant Australian shipping industry serves Australia’s economic, environmental and national security interests. A strong shipping industry supports Australian jobs. The shipping sector trains highly skilled and highly valued workers. These are skills which are critical for Australia to possess as an island continent. They represent the continuation of a proud industry that is linked so much with Australia’s history. A strong shipping industry supports our environment. Australian seafarers know our coast and care for our maritime treasures—maritime treasures like the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, all of the major maritime accidents to have occurred in our waters in recent decades have involved foreign flagged vessels crewed by foreign seafarers. A strong Australian shipping industry is also vital for our national security. We know that there’s an absolute link between the merchant fleet and our navy. The existence of a strong maritime workforce ensures there’s a pool of highly skilled labour that can be mobilised in a time of conflict or national emergency.

But these issues of the national interest are of no interest to this government. Labor has always prioritised more Australian seafarers crewing more Australian flagged ships and carrying more Australian goods around our coastline. The former federal Labor government spoke to industry, unions and the community. We listened to what they needed to prosper and we reformed shipping in the legislation in 2012. But this government seems determined to either ignore that legislation or undermine it. We made it easier for Australian shipping companies to do business. We created a zero tax rate for Australian shipping companies and made a range of regulatory changes which made it easier to employ Australian seafarers. We created the International Shipping Register to allow Australian flagged vessels to employ mixed Australian and foreign crews on internationally agreed rates and conditions. We created the first National Ports Strategy. We removed complex and conflicting state and territory laws with one set of modern national laws and one regulator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The opposition at the time said they would undermine it were they come to office, and that is certainly what they have tried to do. In 2015 they introduced their infamous ‘WorkChoices on water’ legislation—legislation designed to have the Australian flag on the back of Australian ships replaced by foreign flags and Australian workers replaced by foreign workers being paid foreign wages and conditions. This attack is something that wouldn’t be seen in other sectors. If you want to transport goods from Brisbane to Melbourne down the coast on the blue highway you should, of course, have to pay the same courtesies and conditions that apply if you’re transporting those goods down the Newell and Hume highways.

The fact is, though, that under this government they want to see the blue highway being used by foreign ships with foreign workers being paid foreign wages and working under foreign conditions. That wouldn’t occur if you were talking about truck drivers on the highway. You have to have an Australian registered truck and you have to have an Australian employed under appropriate wages and conditions. That should be what happens if you are using the blue highway as well. But the government are simply so determined to undermine the rights of people who happen to be members of trade unions and who have a history of acting collectively—a proud history—in the Maritime Union of Australia and other unions, including the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers. Those unions do have proud histories of acting collectively. Under this government, the way to solve that is to simply remove those people from the workforce and have them replaced. That doesn’t make sense at all, so, whilst the government are focused in this legislation on some very minor amendments, I say to them that we’ve now had myriad ministers: Minister Truss came and went, and then Minister Chester came and went, and then we had Minister Joyce, who came and went, and now we’ve got the new minister, Minister McCormack, and he’s struggling to hold onto his job because he’s under threat from Minister Joyce, who thinks it would be appropriate for him to come back. I say to Minister McCormack that this is an opportunity for him to differentiate himself from his predecessors and actually implement a policy that would be supported by Australian industry, who were here last week having their national conference.

We are determined to work with industry, to work with unions, to work the community sector and to work with all those who use Australian shipping and to reach out across the chamber and work with those opposite as well in the national interest. But our national interest demands that we have an Australian shipping industry, and on this side of the House we will certainly fight for it. I commend the bill to the House.

Oct 18, 2018

Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 – Second Reading – Thursday, 18 October 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:18): This bill, the Maritime Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, seeks to clarify legal questions concerning the nature of marine orders made by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Its practical effect would be to ensure that marine orders have the same legal status as regulations, including that they include penalties for noncompliance. The changes make sense, and they have my support.

Where there is confusion or doubt on whether the legislation accurately reflects the intentions of the parliament, we must make whatever changes are necessary to clarify the collective will of this parliament. Indeed, we should always ensure that parliament provides the community with certainty in the law.

However, while we’re considering this important issue, we should also reflect on our responsibility to provide certainty over the existence of an Australian shipping industry and certainty as to the jobs that Australians rely upon. For the past five years, this government has undermined Australian shipping, seeking to expose it to unfair competition in coastal trade from foreign-flagged vessels paying their crews third-world wages. This has created five years of uncertainty for the Australian shipping industry and Australian seafarers.

Labor will always support changes that enhance Australian shipping, create jobs or, as is the case today, amend legislation to clarify legal ambiguities. But what we won’t do is undermine Australian industry and undermine Australian jobs. Put simply, those opposite want to replace the Australian flag on the back of Australian ships with the white flag of surrender when it comes to Australian jobs. That is the wrong approach. We should be nurturing the Australian shipping industry. We should be promoting job creation and job security. That’s the principle behind the amendment that I will now move. I move:

That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

(1)notes that:

(a) despite the Government’s repeated claims, its proposed changes to coastal shipping legislation are all about eliminating Australian jobs, and ultimately the entire domestic industry; and

(b) during this Government’s period in office, 12 previously Australian-flagged vessels have been reflagged to foreign States; and

(2)reaffirms that:

(a) it is in the national interest to ensure a level playing field between foreign and domestic shipping operators; and

(b) Australia’s vital economic, environmental and national security interests are best served when there is a viable, competitive and growing local shipping industry”.

Can I outline the context of this legislation that’s before the House today? The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 and the Navigation Act 2012 give AMSA the ability to make what are known as marine orders. Marine orders are designed to be legislative instruments allowing AMSA, as the regulator, to keep pace with developments in a rapidly changing industry. Essentially, the idea is that these regulations can be changed at periods of time in order to ensure that the appropriate regulatory regime is kept up-to-date and that there is certainty and consistency. Indeed, when the Navigation Act 2012 was introduced, it replaced the Navigation Act 1912—for 100 years we’d sat on that legislation. It took a Labor government to modernise the legislation that covered Australian shipping.

Marine orders are generally practical in their nature. For example, marine order 15 relates to fire protection for ships. Marine order 17 concerns regulations for carrying dangerous liquids. The original intention of marine orders, as defined in the Navigation Act 2012, was that they would be legally enforceable and, particularly, would include a provision for penalties for noncompliance. However, the government has lately faced some legal questions concerning the enforcement of marine orders. This legislation clarifies the situation by giving marine orders the status of regulations, as was the original intention. The amendment to the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 inserts a definition for ‘regulations’ that includes marine orders, with relevant exceptions. The amendment to the Navigation Act 2012 makes the same change. Labor supports these changes. There’s no room for legal ambiguity over issues such as the ones that I raise: fire protection and the carriage of dangerous liquids. These are not issues of partisan disagreement; they are issues of common sense. As the national regulator, AMSA does a very good job in this regard.

The parliament should also provide clarity over the security of the Australian coastal shipping industry, because the existence of this sector is fundamental to our national interest, given that we are an island continent. Yet, from the moment the coalition took office, and indeed before that, they have sought to undermine the industry. They want to cut costs, without any regard to whether that cost cutting is actually real. It is so dedicated to undermining the people who work in the Australian industry who happen to be members of trade unions that their solution to eliminating members of the maritime sector who are trade unionists is to eliminate the jobs that exist. That’s their plan. No maritime sector? No Maritime Union of Australia. This is the logical conclusion of anyone who actually looks at the legislation that’s been put forward by the government opposite. Tragically, it has been the National Party that has been in charge of this—the National Party, the party whose name implies standing up for the national interest, the party which historically arose out of an approach, in part, to protectionism and regulation of Australian industry.

Now, we don’t say that there should be a protectionist model in the Australian shipping industry. We don’t go the way that many countries have gone—for example, the United States with the Jones Act, where, if you want to take goods from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you have to have a US flagged ship built in the US and with US seafarers on it. It is a completely closed system for their coastal shipping. Indeed, Australia has one of the most open systems in the world. But what we don’t support is the idea that an Australian flagged ship should have to compete with a foreign flagged ship with fewer regulations, less maintenance and less wages, because we know that that isn’t a level playing field. That’s why the 2012 reforms sought to genuinely have a level playing field through a range of measures, including taxation measures, so that the cost differential between a ship that was flagged in a Third World country or a country like Singapore that has a zero rate of taxation would not be at an advantage over an Australian ship.

The fact is that the changes that were sought in 2015 were about eliminating the Australian shipping industry. It actually said it in the regulatory impact statement, where it said that 93 per cent of the savings that were estimated to result from that legislation were a direct result of the difference between Australian wages and foreign wages. It also said that it anticipated that the Australian flag would be removed from ships and be replaced by foreign flags. We saw that in really practical and specific terms as the debate went on.

Perth businessman Bill Milby of North Star Cruises came to a seminar. In all of the seminars and launches of this policy the big hint was where the National Party ministers launched the policy. They launched it at events hosted by the foreign shippers. It was a bit of a hint. It’s a bit like when Pauline Hanson moves a resolution on race: you kind of know where that’s going. So you launch a policy that you say is about the Australian shipping industry and you launch it at an event hosted by foreign shippers—and, of course, foreign shippers are called Shipping Australia. That’s what the foreign shipping organisation is called, because they know that it’s untenable not to be seen to be supporting Australian shipping, because most Australians would think it’s just a bit of common sense to have an Australian shipping industry as we are an island continent.

Bill Milby, a quite successful businessman and owner of North Star Cruises, goes along to this forum. He’s listening to what these reforms are and he’s a smart fellow. This business has been operating up around the Kimberley very successfully. It has been employing Australians and bringing dollars into the Australian economy from international visitors who, as Mr Milby says, actually want to hear an Australian accent while they’re travelling around the pristine areas of the Kimberley and northern Australia. He has provided employment for crew, for cooks and for all the people who work for his company.

He goes up to the deputy secretary of the department and says: ‘I can’t see how, if these changes come in, I can compete. How can I possibly compete?’ and he is told, ‘Well, this is how you compete: you replace the Australian flag on the back of your vessels with a foreign flag and you replace your Australian staff with staff from the Philippines or some other nation. That’s how you compete.’ That’s what he was told. He gave this evidence at the Senate committee into the legislation. He has said this outside of parliament as well. We know it’s true because the legislation said it was in the regulatory impact statement. Quite extraordinary. Here we had an Australian government proposing legislation and providing advice to businesses that was specifically designed to put Australians out of work. In more than two decades in this place, I’ve never seen such a flagrant betrayal of the national interest by representatives in this chamber.

But the fact is that crossbench senators wouldn’t have a bar of it. They put the national interest first. Former Senator Nick Xenophon, when I went to see him about the legislation, said, ‘Well, I always vote for second readings.’ In general, the crossbench has had a view that you vote for the second reading—not the amendments; the second reading—because it allows for further debate. It may well be that there are amendments that make legislation acceptable. But what happened with this legislation is it didn’t even get a second reading. That’s how bad it was. That doesn’t happen too often in the Senate. I’ve dealt with a range of legislation in my portfolio, and it’s the only time I can remember that they just said, ‘No, go away; this is absurd.’

Just last month there was another tranche of legislation debated here in the House of Representatives. They came back. We had Minister Truss introduce the first legislation. Then we had Minister Chester introduce the second bit of legislation. We had Minister Joyce sit on the legislation. Then we had Minister Cormack. It’s a revolving door. This mob speak about the parliament. I’d like to be able to say to the House that I, as shadow minister, am the best shadow minister there’s ever been because I knock over a minister every few months. But I can’t, in all honesty, say that this isn’t self-inflicted as much as anything else. The fact is that last month we had debate on the latest tranche of legislation, maritime legislation from 2016. It took from 2016 to 2018 to get a second reading debate in this place. They’ll go through another four ministers before it gets to the Senate. It’s just extraordinary. The fact is, in spite of the government saying that they’ll consult with Labor about shipping legislation, they essentially haven’t sought to get any bipartisanship—you have one meeting, then the next time there’s a new minister. Maritime Industry Australia Limited, MIAL, the peak industry body, a bunch of businessmen involved in an industry, regard the government as having treated them with contempt, because the consultation for the new legislation was all with the foreign shippers rather than with them as well.

Why do we need a shipping industry? Firstly, of course, it’s clearly in our national economic interest. We are a maritime nation. Most of our exports and imports, close to 99 per cent of them, come and leave via our coast on ships. We rely on the maritime sector to train the people who become harbour masters and run our ports. It is essential for our national economy that those skills be maintained.

Secondly, there is the issue of our environment. We know that every time a major incident has occurred—Shen Neng;Pacific Adventurer—they have something in common: there’s a foreign flag on the back of the ship. People aren’t as familiar with our coastlines, with the pristine nature of our reefs. The accidents that have occurred have caused great damage, but the potential is there for a catastrophic event that would have enormous impact on our national economy.

The third reason is national security. There’s a direct link between the defence industry and our merchant fleet. That’s why, when we established an organisation to look at the maritime workforce development, we had the Navy represented on it. It was chaired by a former Public Service Commissioner. We had the Navy, we had the Australian shipping industry, we had the Maritime Union of Australia, we had the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers and we had the Australian Maritime College down at Launceston. They all came up with a plan for workforce development, a common interest. They had funding of just $5 million from the government to make this plan work. What did this government do when they came to office? They scrapped it. They took the $5 million and scrapped the plan. The fact is that there is a direct link, and, in times of conflict, the merchant fleet has suffered great losses—during World War II, for example.

When this government speak about national security, when they speak about us stopping boats, we didn’t think that meant stopping ships with an Australian flag on the back, but that’s precisely what they’ve done. They’ve done it through abuse of the existing regulations. Take, for example, the Portland.The Portland operated from Portland in Victoria, where the refinery is, picking up the natural resources from over in Western Australia and essentially going to and fro with the natural resources, down to Portland and back again. There was nothing temporary about it. It was a permanent, two-destination voyage that had operated for many years. Yet this government allowed it to be replaced with a foreign-flagged vessel with a foreign crew. The government said that the journey and those regional jobs based in regional Victoria could be replaced by jobs offshore in the Philippines and other destinations. Somehow that was temporary. It’s just a complete abuse of the legislation; it’s an outrageous indictment of the government’s failure to implement what is the law. Yet the government, of course, were completely determined to do that, because they don’t seem to understand the synergy which is there between our naval and our merchant fleets.

Our Australian seafarers undergo very stringent background checks. They have to have an MSIC. Foreign seafarers don’t have MSICs, but they operate in our ports and in our harbours. The government should think about where ships are, what they have on board and the potential issue for national security that this represents if the proper checks aren’t made. I say to the government: don’t say that you didn’t know about it if there is an incident. Don’t say it, because this is called Hansard,and I’m saying in it that there are national security interests in Australia having an Australian fleet operating around our coasts. And don’t say that you don’t understand the economic reasons for why we need an Australian shipping industry. Don’t say that you’re not aware of the Pasha Bulker, the Shandong Hai Wang, the Pacific Adventurer and, in New Zealand, the Rena, which I flew over with the New Zealand transport minister. Essentially, that incident had an enormously damaging impact on the environment and also on the economy of the region around Auckland and the north coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

The fact is that Labor does understand the importance of the shipping sector and the need to provide Australian seafarers with secure work. In government we created the Australian International Shipping Register, allowing operators of Australian-flagged vessels to employ mixed Australian and foreign crews on internationally agreed rates and conditions. We enacted the first major rewrite of the nation’s maritime laws. That was consistent with the other work that we did on the National Ports Strategy. We made sure that the oil companies pay for any and all damage their ships may cause. We had to fix legislation to fix that. We replaced the myriad laws that operated separately from state to state with just one national regulator administering one set of modern nationwide laws.

By contrast, the coalition have completely undermined the Australian shipping industry. As I said at the outset, I’m all for certainty in legislation, but I’m also an advocate for job certainty for Australian seafarers and investment certainty for the Australian shipping industry. It is in Australia’s economic, environmental and national security interests to maintain a vibrant Australian shipping industry. It is also the case—to give a comparison that I think is appropriate—that, if you want to take freight from Sydney to Melbourne down the highway, you use a truck that’s registered in Australia; you have a truck driver with an Australian licence; and you are obligated to pay Australian wages. If you take those same goods down the blue highway, which is free from Sydney to Melbourne, you can have a foreign-flagged ship with foreign wages and foreign conditions, regardless.

What that does as well, as the Australian rail industry has pointed out, is to distort the market across transport modes towards foreign ships. That’s over Australian jobs in the rail sector, in particular, but also in the roads sector. That’s a distortion that, again, undermines Australian conditions and wages.

If we’re going to compete in the Asian century, we can’t compete on the basis of how low we can drive our wages. We need to compete on the basis of how smart we are, how innovative we are, how creative we are as a nation—creating the jobs of the future. This government doesn’t seem to understand that. In spite of the Reserve Bank saying that wages being reduced in real terms is a problem for the national economy, in areas like this what we see is that they have contempt for Australian industrial conditions. There should be no difference between the blue highway and the Hume Highway. It’s a very simple principle of operation.

The fact is that those opposite do want to replace the Australian flag on the back of Australian ships employing Australian seafarers with the white flag of surrender when it comes to Australian jobs, and it is much to their shame that they remain determined to pursue this course after five years of destructive attitudes towards Australian shipping.

Oct 18, 2018

Condolences – Mr Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan AO – Thursday 18 October, 2018

It was during this race that Ian Kiernan saw the amount of rubbish which was choking the world’s oceans. After he returned to Sydney, he organised a community event which began with just the support of a few friends: Clean Up Sydney Harbour on Sunday, 8 January 1989. When I say ‘just a few of his friends’, 40,000 volunteers showed up. Ian was a guy who, when you met him, was charismatic. He was warm, he was engaging and he was a leader of men and women. He was a leader of his community. That day, they collected 5,000 tonnes of rubbish. Based on the success of this event, Clean Up Australia Day took place the following year. It has since then taken place on the first Sunday of March every year, with more than 300,000 Australians volunteering their time to make a difference to their local environment. In my electorate of Grayndler, every year, the big clean-up day usually focuses on Cooks River. Now, with the expansion of my electorate to the north, Sydney Harbour is also a focus—around Balmain, White Bay and the foreshores of the harbour.

In 1991, Ian decided that, since Clean Up Sydney Harbour had moved to Clean Up Australia, he wanted to start Clean Up the World. In its first year, more than 30 million people—more than the population of Australia—from 80 countries participated. It has since grown to involve over 40 million people from 120 countries. Ian was the chair of Clean Up Australia, a national non-profit organisation that coordinates not just Clean Up Australia but also Clean Up the World. Clean Up Australia also runs Clean Up Australia projects, which are long-term community based environmental programs that address the need for ongoing care and restoration of environmental assets.

Ian was named Australian of the Year in 1994 and received numerous Australian and international awards—but he didn’t ask for any of them. He was a very humble man. I was privileged to have contact with him on a number of occasions. He was someone who was very passionate about making a difference. Ian Kiernan’s life shows that an individual can make a very, very big difference to their local community, the city in which they live, the nation and indeed the world. He and his wife, Judy, had two daughters, Sally and Pip, and a son, Jack. I pay my respects to all of the family members and to all those who will miss Ian Kiernan dearly.

Oct 18, 2018

Adjournment – Racism – Thursday, 18 October 2018

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:17): Two weeks ago I attended an event in Byron Bay in support of Asren Pugh, the Labor candidate for Ballina. There I met a remarkable man, Neville Kelly. He’s a life member of the Australian Labor Party. He’d been a member for more than 50 years. I spent some time talking to Ned, as he is known. He told me a story about his involvement in politics and how he came to be engaged, particularly in areas of country New South Wales.

In 1961, Ned moved to Moree. As a member of the local health board, he was appointed by the then minister, Billy Sheehan, to the district hospital board as a director. He went around the hospital to get familiar with it and, as he thought he had seen everything in the hospital, he asked what this shed was a few hundred metres down from the hospital. He’d seen food going to and from that area. He was told that was where the Aboriginals were. The Aboriginal patients were kept in a separate area with inferior food and inferior conditions in 1961.

Ned is a very sprightly gentleman. He told me the story about how he fixed it. He got Billy Sheehan to come up as a minister to open a section of the new hospital. He told Billy Sheehan what the circumstances were in Moree, and Billy Sheehan the day before, of course, said that he would come on the condition that everyone was treated equally. From that day of the minister’s visit, segregation ended. But it didn’t end in other parts of the Moree area, and this wasn’t unfamiliar in other parts of Australia as well.

The Moree Plains Shire Council had carried a resolution in 1955, and that resolution said:

That no person being a full blooded or half cast aboriginal of Australia, or being person apparently having a mixture of aboriginal blood, shall use, occupy or be present in or upon, or be allowed or be permitted or invited to use, occupy or be present upon the premises of the council … known as the Moree Baths …

Which was the local swimming pool. What we saw in the 1960s was the freedom riders that changed that. I seek leave to table, and I thank those opposite for allowing it, an article from the Daily Mirror on 21 February 1965, ‘Violence explodes in racist town’. It begins:

White women jeered and spat at girl freedom riders today as racial violence broke out for the first time at Moree.

The work that Jim Spigelman and Charlie Perkins did on those freedom rides is very well-known, but it was people in rural areas who made such a big difference. They had a public meeting at the town hall. Ned went along to that public meeting and moved a resolution that council open up all facilities—the town hall, the swimming pool and, of course, the famous spa there at Moree—which weren’t allowed to be used by Aboriginals in that town. What he did then, as the elections were coming up, was he stood and got elected. He came first in being elected to Moree council, showing that beneath the surface the population actually knew it was wrong and were prepared to vote for change. At his first council meeting, he moved just that change.

Ned is an example of a true believer in the Australian Labor Party—a bloke who has never run for any office other than local council, who’s given up more than five decades of his life and who’s made a real impact. I’m sure there are many people across the political spectrum who do that, and I pay tribute to Ned today and all those who don’t get to be members of parliament but who make a difference to their local communities and to their nation.

Oct 17, 2018

Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 5) Bill 2018 – Second Reading – Wednesday, 17 October 2018

They want to shut down the capacity of people who don’t agree with them to have a voice. That’s why so many charities feel that this government has been more determined to intimidate them than concerned with actually listening to the issues that arise in our society. The fact is that many people in our community are much better off than they were decades ago, but it’s also a fact that a lot of people feel as though they are being left behind. They are being left behind and they are increasingly reliant upon charity for themselves and their families, just to get by from day to day. It’s also the case that the community sector should be able to have the capacity to speak out on a range of issues. That doesn’t hurt us. I’ve been a government minister and had to deal with community sector people who mightn’t agree with every issue. Every time you build an infrastructure project there will be someone who is adversely affected. What you need to do, though, is not to ignore them. You need to listen to them.

It’s the same across the board. Sometimes you need to make decisions in which some people feel aggrieved, but, if they have had an opportunity to put their view, they at least will feel like they have been heard. What’s more, it may well be that they come up with better solutions.

One of the things about a democracy, as opposed to a totalitarian regime—which I think those opposite sometimes resemble in the way that they conduct their affairs—is that a democracy allows for different voices, including dissenting voices, which strengthens outcomes.

Here we have, though, the quite extraordinary situation, as the shadow Assistant Treasurer has raised, of the appointment of the anti-charity advocate Gary Johns as Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. It is quite extraordinary that we have someone who has advocated over this entire century—since he had his conversion!—having done quite well out of life himself, just as all parliamentarians are relatively well off!

Gary Johns did very well out of life. He got to be a minister. As a former minister, he’s on a parliamentary pension which is significant. Yet he feels as though it is legitimate for him to essentially deride and ridicule and undermine those people who are not as well off as he is. The fact that this announcement was made public at the time that the marriage equality vote was being celebrated in this parliament says it all.

This was literally taking out the trash, when it comes to Gary Johns and when it comes to his attitude towards charities. It is quite indefensible, having been the darling of the new Right movement in Queensland and, indeed, nationally. He has regular columns in The Australian which, of course, continually mention he is a former minister for a Labor government. Quite frankly, so what? Lots of people change their views. Mark Latham, who is now a member of a far Right party, once sat in this chamber in a Labor caucus with me. I was never a fan of Mark Latham, I’ve got to say, and I was never a fan of Gary Johns. I was right on both occasions. This appointment wasn’t appropriate, but it says a lot about the cynicism of this government. By all means, Gary Johns may well have been appropriate for a pro resources sector job or—I’m not quite sure; I’m trying to help him out here, but I can’t think of much.

Certainly it’s the amendment I’m speaking to, and it’s a very good amendment by the member for Fenner, it must be said. I think the government is considering supporting this as they listen to the strength of our arguments.

Mr Falinski: You’ll have to do a better job than this to convince us!

Mr ALBANESE: The member for Mackellar, you can tell, was ready to cross the floor as soon as the member for Fenner raised his predecessor. The bells went off in his head and he was ready to walk across the chamber.

The fact is that in Anti-Poverty Week it is appropriate that the member for Fenner has moved this amendment. It is appropriate that we consider this government’s attitude towards charities and not-for-profits. People who work for not-for-profit organisations, by and large, do it out of absolute commitment to their fellow Australians. They don’t do it for the income that members of parliament receive for the job that we do; they do it out of their commitment. I know so many people who work in that sector who end up giving their own money to people when there’s not enough money in the till for the particular fund, and I pay tribute to them. Of course, they rely on volunteers to keep those organisations going, to feed the homeless, to look after people or to visit elderly Australians in their homes. Many ethnic communities in my electorate rely upon volunteers who speak the language of the people concerned because many people, as they get older, lose their English and go back to their first language. People who work in youth work, looking after people who might be affected by drugs and alcohol, are trying to get them on the right track. There are organisations like Reclink, which I’ve had a lot to do with. There are people like Bill Crews and people like Father Chris Riley. These are the inspirations. When we look at the charity and not-for-profit sector, they could have done better than to have Gary Johns as their head. I commend the amendment moved by the member of Fenner to House.

Oct 15, 2018

Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports Bill 2018 – Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:26): I rise to speak in support of the Inspector-General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports Bill 2018, moved by my friend and colleague the member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon. This would reintroduce an inspector-general, a position that was let lapse by the Abbott government when it was elected in 2013. The reintroduction of an inspector-general would see the further strengthening of our live export regulatory system. It builds upon Labor’s proud achievement of creating the Export Supply Chain Assurance System in 2011, which was in response to a Four Corners report that recorded atrocious acts of animal cruelty within Indonesian abattoirs.

For a number of years now, ESCAS has effectively enforced animal welfare standards in other countries. While ESCAS is a great Labor achievement, more needs to be done to prevent future incidents of animal cruelty. For example, the shocking footage obtained by 60 Minutes on 8 April this year exposed the hideous conditions that Australian sheep were being subjected to during long-haul live export voyages to the Middle East. Unfortunately, this is not a one-off event. The 60 Minutesfootage covered onboard treatment of live sheep over a series of voyages. Upon seeing the original footage, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said:

I’ve seen that footage and I was absolutely shocked and gutted … This cannot go on.

He continued:

We saw sheep that basically died from a heat event that were left and decayed, that were unable to get to water and food, and it disturbs me greatly that this has happened.

If that is the case then the government must commit to immediately halting the northern live sheep trade, phasing it out completely within five years, as Labor has pledged to do. During the five-year transition period, Labor will impose the highest regulatory standards. Labor will work with farmers, unions and industry on a strategic red meat industry plan to do more value-adding here in Australia. This will be good for farmers. It will be good for animal welfare standards and good for the Australian economy. Labor will end the live export of sheep and Australia will be better off for it.

There can be no doubt that appointing an inspector-general of animal welfare and live animal exports is integral to preventing further cases of animal abuse, such as the kind that was seen in Indonesia in 2011 and during long-haul live export voyages earlier this year. Not only does this bill and the appointment of an inspector-general have the support of the caucus of the Labor Party; importantly, it has the support of the live export industry itself. So it’s hard to see why the government is so opposed to this practical measure. The only people opposed to this bill are some of those opposite in the deeply divided rabble that is the ATM government of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.

Indeed, it’s a fact that the Liberal member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, introduced her own private member’s bill in May to stop live sheep exports entirely. Ironically, the member for Farrer has now withdrawn her support from voting for this bill. The fact is that a majority of this parliament—of the House of Representatives and the Senate—supports this legislation. So why is it that it is not going through this parliament? This is a failure of our democracy if it doesn’t happen.

Our animals need support and our agricultural sector needs strong and sustainable regulation. Both of these measures can be achieved by supporting this legislation. And the parliament needs to wake up to how angry the Australian population are about these issues not being addressed. Anyone who looks at that footage can’t possibly say that this is okay to just continue. This should not be a partisan issue; we should be bringing on this bill for a vote and we should be carrying it through both houses of parliament. I commend the bill to the House.


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