Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Sep 18, 2018

Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee Report – Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Federation Chamber  

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:02): I rise to speak on the report Building up & moving out, a title which in just several words goes to the heart of the issues that cities, both capital and regional, across Australia are grappling with today. I want to congratulate the chair of the committee, John Alexander, the member for Bennelong; the deputy chair, Sharon Bird, the member for Cunningham; all the committee members; and the secretariat for their hard work on this report. Whilst I don’t endorse all of the recommendations in the report, I think it is truly a fine example of the work that can be done in the parliament in order to secure a consensus reform agenda moving forward. Indeed, many of the proposals in the report are certainly worthy of support, and I hope that the report garners more attention from the media than it has up to this point.

There is no doubt that Australia has been, for a long period of time now, the most urbanised country on the planet. The national government, if it is going to truly represent the people of our great nation, must be involved in cities, in urban planning and in policies that are directed towards improving the productivity, sustainability and livability of our cities. That must include both capital cities and, importantly, our great regional cities. There is a need to grow regional cities and to support decentralisation in order to take pressure off, particularly, the east coast capitals.

The report makes a number of recommendations. Indeed, there are an unusually large number of recommendations in this report, some 37. Recommendation 1 is for a national plan of settlement. This is certainly worthy of consideration by government. A national plan of settlement, it acknowledges in recommendation 2, must include work also by states and territories and communities, which ‘link vertically across different levels of government’. The report goes on to talk about the need for urban planning.

I’ve told the story of being sworn in as minister in the Rudd government in December 2007. As a new minister I received briefings across aviation, shipping, transport and the range of issues that you have to deal with as a minister. One of the things that concerned me was when I asked who did the planning work in the Commonwealth department I was told, essentially, that there wasn’t a planning unit. They had all left. That’s why we established, when we were in government, Infrastructure Australia and the Major Cities Unit—to make sure that we brought planning back in, to make sure that the key performance indicator of the Commonwealth wasn’t just whether money had gone out the door but what was actually done with those funds. Had it achieved its objectives? Part of the Infrastructure Australia agenda is to go back and make assessments of projects when they’ve been completed and whether they’ve fulfilled the benefit-cost ratio that was expected when the project was approved by Infrastructure Australia. And there’s no doubt that we can do much better.

The committee recommends support for high-speed rail, particularly where you have the large populations around Australia. What that means, of course, is the corridor between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. There’s no doubt that can be a major benefit to both the urban development in those capital cities and, most importantly, to the regional cities along the route, including Australia’s largest inland city, the capital here in Canberra. There are a range of other recommendations that go to making sure that we get better planning, making sure there’s a recommendation that the Commonwealth provide support for research when it comes to cities. That occurs in most countries that are advanced economies. They have those sorts of units providing that best-practice agenda. We don’t, here, in Australia. We rely upon various think tanks and universities, but there isn’t a central body, such as the UKCRIC, that’s recommended as the model for it.

Interestingly, the committee recommends a re-endorsement by the Australian government of the Creating Places for People and Urban Design Protocol for Australian cities that was developed while I was the minister. This was worked out with industry. It was, essentially, an urban design protocol to make sure that we got best practice. The key to facilitating a public support for increases in density is convincing local communities that an increase in density will lead to an increase—not a decrease—in their quality of life. Part of that is about urban design, making sure that green spaces are built into any design of major urban centres. It is about making sure that we look at sustainability of buildings, of energy, of water, of all those issues that the government has walked away from in recent times.

There are a range of other recommendations, including that a senior minister be appointed to look at housing. Housing affordability is an issue in which this government, frankly, has dropped the ball. It is good that this committee report is supporting the issue of housing being an important national responsibility. Housing isn’t just about building places for people to live. It’s about building communities. It’s about making sure that issues of housing affordability and the nature of those communities are identified.

In terms of the other recommendations, there is support for smart cities, making sure that new technology enhances the quality of life in our cities. One of the reasons why people gather in our urban centres is because of agglomeration and what it can do in terms of quality of life. And there’s no doubt that technology can be a major facilitator of improvements in liveability and sustainability, if it is applied properly. So smart cities technology is particularly important, and I very much support that recommendation. When we were in government, under Brian Howe and Lucy Turnbull we established a process of assessing the planning mechanisms which were in place for our capital cities. This report recommends that we have an assessment ongoing through the National Cities Performance Framework, and that is something that is certainly worthwhile.

In terms of other recommendations in the report, it goes through the importance of engaging with the different levels of government. I say to the government, and particularly to the new minister—they change so often these days!—that rather than talking about the rhetoric of their so-called infrastructure investment that is, of course, off into the never-never, that this report is worthwhile and provides a policy framework. It doesn’t provide everything, but it is a step forward. With the governance arrangements, I think it ignores the fact that many of the governance arrangements that this government has put in place have essentially been distractions, including the establishment of the Infrastructure Financing Unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to do a job that Infrastructure Australia is tasked to do in its legislation.

But I do commend the report. I think it provides a constructive contribution to the debate on urban policy in this country.

Sep 18, 2018

Adjournment – Infrastructure – Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (19:49): Last weekend I attended the New South Wales ALP Country Labor conference, and I drove along the Pacific Highway from Port Macquarie to Foster, a beautiful part of the world. I had the opportunity to drive on the legacy of the investment made by the former Labor government in duplicating the Pacific Highway after years of inaction by the previous Howard government. We invested some $7.6 billion in the project over six years, compared with $1.3 billion by the Howard government over 12 years.

My journey was a stark reminder of the ineffectiveness of the National Party. According to the last census, the electorate of Lyne, which includes Foster, has the second lowest average income in the country. Just to its north is Cowper, the sixth poorest electorate in the country. One electorate further on is Page, the fifth poorest electorate in the country. It’s no coincidence that these are seats that have been taken for granted by the National Party. The fact is that they need better representation. The National Party currently have no plan for regional economic development.

Regional Australia does need a serious economic development plan, and Labor has one. It starts with an increase in infrastructure investment to end the years of coalition cuts. According to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, if we stick with those opposite, federal infrastructure investment expressed as a percentage of GDP will halve from 0.4 to 0.2 per cent over the coming decade. Much of the focus of a Labor government would be investment in public transport in capital cities, but we must also address regional economic development. The nation must confront traffic congestion in those capital cities, but one of the ways we can do that is by encouraging the growth in our regional cities. Regional Australia has an important role to play. As well as improving transport in the capitals, Labor wants to empower regional centres so they prosper, so they can absorb some of the intense pressure of national population growth. The fact is that many Australians, including some of those newer to this country, are open to living in regional Australia if they can find jobs there. That’s why we invested in the NBN in regional Australia: to take away the tyranny of distance and to change it from a disadvantage to a comparative advantage for business to be located in regional centres which have lower overheads than businesses located in the CBDs of our capital cities.

Labor will also target regional jobs growth through infrastructure investment and via our city partnerships program. We want to work with councils, state governments, the private sector and regional development organisations to craft transformative economic development strategies appropriate to individual communities. What are the relative comparative advantages that particular regions can bring to provide the support of government to make sure that that growth in jobs happens?

We also want to improve road and rail links between capital cities and regional centres. For example, the high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra will see a city such as the one we’re in now, Canberra, or Newcastle being well under an hour from the CBD of Sydney. What that will do is improve the livability of those regional cities, but it will also improve the economic opportunity for businesses to be located there. In the same way, quicker access to Melbourne would drive increased jobs growth in cities like Ballarat and Bendigo.

Of course, regional Australia also requires, as my colleague the member for Whitlam has been relentlessly campaigning for, 21st century fibre based broadband. That is so important to providing opportunity, yet those opposite are happy for the people they represent in this parliament to struggle along with 19th century copper technology. Talk about a lack of ambition!

The fact is it will take a Labor government to energise regional Australia. We understand that regional Australians are hurting at the moment. They’re hurting due to the drought but also due to a lack of political support, in many cases, from those very people who they send to represent them in this House.

Question agreed to.

House adjourned at 19:54

Sep 12, 2018

Questions Without Notice – Morrison Government – Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Sep 11, 2018

Matters of Public Importance – Energy – Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:34): They just had an opportunity for the new minister for energy to outline what the coalition’s energy policy is, and what did we get? Nothing. ‘Lower prices’, he said. What’s their policy to fix the drought—’More rain’? These people just cannot be taken seriously over an issue which is serious. We know what their policy was, because the now Treasurer said this just a couple of months ago:

… if you believe in lower power prices, if you want to see Australian households $550 a year better off, if you want to see the wholesale price down by 20 per cent, if you want to be side by side with the big employers across the country, you get behind the National Energy Guarantee …

That’s what they were saying when parliament last sat, but now they’ve ripped it up. This is a new minister who doesn’t know the difference between a coal-fired power station and an aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley. This is a minister who, when he was the minister for cities, was known as a walking wind farm. There was lots of movement and lots of air around, but not much actually happened as he ran around the country.

Of course the tragedy of this is that, like in other areas of infrastructure development, what you need here for business to drive investment is certainty. But what do we have from this government? What we have when it comes to transport is that those opposite have moved away from the Infrastructure Australia model. They’ve taken money off projects that were ready to go and given it to projects that never, ever happened, and therefore we’ve seen a drop in investment. What we’ve seen on water is the National Water Initiative trashed by this mob. We’ve seen all sorts of water siphoned off to mates, with various corruption inquiries in New South Wales, and South Australia suffering at the end of the system. What we’ve seen on communications is the National Broadband Network abandoned, with a system now based on copper rather than fibre.

What we’ve seen on energy is perhaps the worst of all of the infrastructure modes. In 2007, in this parliament, both sides supported a price on carbon, an emissions trading scheme and ratifying the Kyoto protocol, but in December 2009 those opposite combined with the Greens political party to destroy that price on carbon. What we saw then was that, despite that, against the odds, we did legislate for an emissions trading scheme with a fixed price in the initial stage. But those opposite walked away from that. They trashed that, and we saw a doubling of wholesale power prices. Then we saw an EIS, an emissions intensity scheme, which they walked away from. Then there was the clean energy target. We were prepared to talk about that, but they walked away from that. The National Energy Guarantee in its various forms—they walked away that. What we’ve seen from this ATM government over here, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, is: insert some policy, but nothing coming out. Nothing constructive comes out at all, and it is Australians who are paying the price through higher prices.

If you are going to get that certainty, you have to know what you stand for and you have to be prepared to take people with you. You have to be able to work collaboratively. For the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who’s now in New York, even obscurity is better than trying to work with this mob opposite. And, if you know Malcolm Turnbull, that’s really saying something. But for this minister to be given responsibility for this portfolio shows just how bereft those opposite are. We on this side of the House know that the future is renewables. We on this side of the House know that by driving down emissions you drive down prices. Supply and demand—when you increase the amount of supply in the energy sector through growth of renewables, you drive down prices. Those opposite talk about business. The fact is business wants certainty; business wants what those opposite have refused to give them. (Time expired)

Sep 10, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – Monday, 10 September 2018

Following this debate, there’s a motion to be moved by the member for Sydney on the gender pay gap, for which four Labor speakers have been listed, and there is not a single member of the government parties, the Liberal and National parties, who is prepared to engage in a debate about the gender pay gap. Now, given the issues of bullying that occurred in the last fortnight from those opposite, particularly targeting women members of the coalition—as outlined by the member for Chisholm, who said it was so bad that she will withdraw from politics at the next election, backed up by the former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and foreign minister, by Senator Gichuhi and by the Minister for Women, the member for Higgins—it is extraordinary that those opposite have felt like they should not participate in a debate about the gender pay gap.

Here, if they participated in this debate on trade, they could explain why they believe that free trade agreements should include investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which undermine Australia’s national sovereignty and the right of this parliament to determine the way that health policy and other policies operate here in this nation. This is a big distinction between Labor’s approach and the approach of those opposite. We understand how important trade has been to global growth and how important trade has been in lifting up the living standards of people in both First World nations, such as Australia, and, importantly, the underdeveloped world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. We understand that trade is a driver of economic growth but we also understand that, without appropriate provisions that ensure that the national interest is served through that global process, we can have outcomes that do undermine Australia’s national economic sovereignty to make decisions about issues such as health care and to make decisions about pharmaceuticals, for example. That’s why we’re quite happy to debate these issues.

We also believe that there should be independent economic modelling of the TPP-11 and of other trade agreements which are proposed, including the Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement which is proposed. What we say is that we are all for free trade, but we are all for it with appropriate provisions to ensure that there’s transparency and to ensure that the national sovereignty and the right of this parliament to make determinations in the national interest continues. It’s a pity that those opposite are such a shambolic rabble that they are incapable of defending their government’s own policy, which is why they should just call an election.

Aug 21, 2018

Motions Prime Minister – Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:10): There were two words missing from the speeches of those opposing this motion of no confidence in this Prime Minister. What were those two words? ‘Prime’ and ‘minister’. Not one of the speakers has defended Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership. The speeches today are typical of what has characterised this government or, should I say, this opposition-in-exile, because what they have done is turned the coalition into the ‘no-alition’. They seek to define themselves by what they’re against, not by what they’re for. And that is why they have nothing less than a crisis of identity, a crisis of belief between the views of the current Prime Minister and the views of the past and future prime ministers. That is why they have such a problem, because you can’t define yourselves by just what you’re against. We know that, when they stand up and talk about the reason why they should stay on the Treasury bench, they speak about a tax on trade unions, a tax on public education, a tax on public health and a tax on the public broadcaster. They speak about a tax against the Leader of the Opposition and all of our team. They don’t present a vision for how they will actually take the country forward.

It’s there in their policies and we should have seen it. The current Prime Minister took over as communications minister and he actually does get the interweb thingy. As his predecessor said, he invented it! But what’s he done? Twenty-one million metres of copper wire—in the 21st century. That is what he has done. It’s so last century! When it comes to climate change—he gets that too—he put forward the emissions intensity scheme, but can’t follow it through. Then he gets the Chief Scientist to come up with a policy, so the Chief Scientist comes up with one: the Clean Energy Target. We said, ‘We’ll have a look at that. That looks okay.’ Then it disappeared. Then we had various versions of the National Energy Guarantee, and he walked away from that as well. He says he supports infrastructure and public transport. He loves taking selfies on trains and trams. We don’t want selfies; people want trains and trams funded with dollars—the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail. No, that’s not good enough. He’ll go to Melbourne, he’ll go to Brisbane and he’ll go to the opening of Redcliffe rail; he just won’t fund rail lines in inner Brisbane.

The fact is that this motion should be carried because we know that a majority supports this motion: 69 on this side and 35 on that side. That’s before we get to the Nats; that’s before we get to Barnaby’s mob. They’re not part of that. See, you’re up to 104. You’re in triple figures—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will refer to people by their correct titles.

Mr ALBANESE: before you get to the crossbenchers or before you get to the National Party. The fact is that, under this Leader of the Opposition, we have been working to have a plan for government. We have put forward economic policy. We’ve put forward really difficult tax changes under this shadow Treasurer. We’ve put forward policies to give fairness in the workplace. We’ve put forward environmental policies. We understand that Australians want nothing more and nothing less than for their kids to have more opportunity in life than they had, and they want them to inherit an environment that’s better than the one that we enjoy. But, instead of that true aspiration—which isn’t for another yacht; the aspiration of Australians is for their family, for their community and for their country—we’ve got the selfish attitude of those opposite. Then the Treasurer, at the moment, had the gumption to speak about the ‘big stick’. I and the next speaker get to talk every Friday morning, early, and last week I said that the problem was that they were using the big stick on themselves! Well, I was wrong—because now they’re using it on each other! And we saw it this morning.

Aug 20, 2018

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Foreign Media Ownership and Community Radio) Bill 2017, Second Reading – Monday, 20 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:23): I’m pleased to be able to make a contribution to this debate on the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Foreign Media Ownership and Community Radio) Bill 2017. In particular, I’m pleased to follow the member for Newcastle and support the amendment that’s been moved by the member for Greenway. When I say ‘following the member for Newcastle’, of course it’s unusual for Labor members to follow each other. Normally what happens procedurally is that we have a government speaker and then an opposition speaker, and you have a debate through both sides of the chamber. But what is extraordinary about the state of chaos in the coalition is that they’ve given up on governing. They have no speakers provided for this legislation except for the minister who introduced it. Not a single member could be found to stand up and defend this deal with One Nation, which is how this legislation came about. Not even the member for Reid, who normally is not stuck for words, is prepared to defend this dirty deal that was done over in the other place with One Nation.

That deal was about the abolition of the two-out-of-three rule on media ownership. We have already seen the results of that with a further concentration of media ownership in this country, a nation that already has a lack of diversity in its media ownership. The two-out-of-three rule prevented a person or entity being in a position to control more than two of the three media—commercial radio, commercial television and newspapers—in the same license area. But that change went ahead, with One Nation’s support. And now we have legislation before us which requires the release of more information about levels of foreign ownership in media organisations.

Other provisions in this bill encourage community radio broadcasters to provide greater coverage of local issues and to increase opportunities for local participation in producing and hosting radio programs. We know that community radio is already doing this. So we certainly support the call, in the second reading amendment that was moved by the member for Greenway, for the Turnbull government to end its war on media diversity. Today I want to concentrate my contribution on the enormous contribution of community broadcasters to diversity and cultural development in this nation. But I do want to take the opportunity to outline my concern about the government’s ongoing attempts to undermine public broadcasting in this country.

Responsible governments understand and nurture a free, diverse and vigorous media environment. Responsible leaders understand that, while a free media can be an inconvenience when it comes to day-to-day political management—I’m sure members of the government regret opening up the plastic wrapper that is often on a newspaper on their doorstep every morning at the moment, because what they read about is the chaos that is occurring on that side of the House—a vibrant media is absolutely necessary for our democratic processes and for an informed society. We know what can happen when you don’t have proper information getting out there in a coherent way.

One of the things we know about this country is that, in spite of the sometimes hysterical response of the right wing of the Liberal Party and the National Party and other fringe dwellers, the ABC and the SBS are very much trusted media organisations compared to the commercial media organisations. They play a particularly important role in regional Australia. They play an important role in the day-to-day life of residents and communities, who may be vulnerable to natural disasters like fires. The ABC and the SBS inform the community, particularly through radio bulletins, of what is going on in those local communities. So the ABC and the SBS are cherished institutions.

Yet, in spite of the fact that the government came to office under the first prime minister—it appears we’re going to get three in just a couple of terms—Mr Abbott, the member for Warringah, who very clearly promised, just the night before he was elected, ‘no cuts to the ABC or SBS’, what we’ve seen since 2014 is that ABC funding has been cut by $366 million, and 800 staff have lost their jobs. This year alone, the government has cut $83.7 million in ABC funding and launched two damaging public broadcasting inquiries, and it has three bills before the parliament to meddle with the ABC charter—all inspired by the deal with One Nation.

So, beyond the cuts, there is the ongoing culture war. The government has used public broadcasting as a political whipping boy so that MPs on the extreme right have something to keep them busy. If the Prime Minister or his ministers don’t like a news report on the ABC, they complain to the board or to the CEO. They don’t do that publicly; they go, sneakily, around the back and put in those complaints. Quite clearly, that is all aimed at undermining public broadcasting.

We did expect that from a culture warrior like the member for Warringah when he became Prime Minister, but when the member for Wentworth, who has a background in the media, became the Prime Minister, in the first coup of this government, we expected a little bit more, and I think the Australian public expected more. What we got, though, was just more of the same. We shouldn’t be surprised, really, because, while the Prime Minister said he cared about the ABC and SBS and the ABC’s independence, he of course has trashed it.

He said he understood the National Broadband Network. He claimed to have invented the internet, according to his predecessor, and yet what we have is a copper based, outmoded system, a hybrid that’s all over the shop, whereby, depending upon which side of the street you live on, you might be getting a first-rate service or you might be getting a Z-grade service. And we’ve seen Australia go backwards when it comes to our ranking on internet speeds. The only thing we’re going forward on is our purchase of copper, which is going extremely well. It’s just a pity that this is the century of fibre, not copper, and that the government is left behind. And this week we’ve seen that played out in the absolutely diabolical position of the government on climate change.

When it comes to community broadcasting, it is a great force for good in this country. There are more than 450 not-for-profit broadcasters. Five million people tune in each week. It provides a platform for communities that aren’t served by commercial broadcasters—Indigenous Australians; ethnic communities; educational services; religious communities; local music and the arts—and for gay and lesbian communities, through radio stations like Joy FM.

Community broadcasting also provides a great entry point into the media. Radio stations in Sydney, like 2SER, 2FBI and Radio Skid Row, play a really important role in and around my electorate in providing young people, people who are still students, with that hands-on experience of running radio programs and of being able to broadcast, in many cases, really valuable and unique material.

They also provide an opportunity for people involved in the arts, particularly young musicians. So many bands and performers have had their material played on community radio stations before they’ve been picked up by triple j or by commercial radio, and that can provide a really important service as well. Community radio can be raw. The truth is that sometimes it can be a bit hit and miss, but that’s a good thing. That’s a very good thing. Certainly many bands get their start on these radio stations. Without them, we might never have heard of Nick Cave, Hunters & Collectors, the Saints or many other bands.

One of the bands that certainly got a run was Radio Birdman, and I take the opportunity to once again call for the ABC to reconsider its decision not to purchase the broadcast rights to the Descent into the Maelstrom documentary that outlines the history of this important band, started in Sydney by Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in 1974. Radio Birdman started in Sydney at about the same time as the Saints in Brisbane. They played a critical role in the alternative music scene in those two cities and in the nation—and, indeed, internationally. These bands were important in having an impact on the musos who followed them in the decades to come.

I conclude by talking about where I was yesterday—Henson Park at the Reclink Community Cup. There you have a game between the Walers, a musician based team, and the Sailors, a media based team. A lot of that media based team are people associated with radio stations like FBi and 2ser in particular. That is raising money for disadvantaged youth who get funding through the Reclink organisation, which tries to take young people who’ve been marginalised from the mainstream of society and include them back in by connecting them through arts and sport. It’s a great example of how the community can reach out to give people a lift up and get them back into mainstream society—people who’ve been engaged with drugs, alcohol or homelessness—making sure that they’re not just left behind.

Community radio getting involved, as they do, and now the community cup, which is a major fundraiser for Reclink around the country, are great examples of how people who are engaged in community radio are also engaged in their communities and make a difference. You’ll find the people involved in community welfare will be the same people who are involved in community radio, which is why it’s important that the government do more to support community radio throughout this nation.


Aug 16, 2018

Constituency Statements – Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Thursday, 16 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:44): Last night I attended the ABC’s showcase here in Parliament House to demonstrate my strong support for our national public broadcaster, particularly at a time when it’s under attack by those opposite, in the government. In the words of Radio Birdman’s ‘Aloha Steve & Danno’, I say to the ABC, ‘Get out an APB and purchase the broadcast rights to Descent into the Maelstrom, the Radio Birdman story.’

The creation of the band by Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in Sydney in 1974 cemented the foundation of Australian punk rock, laid in the very same year by Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper of The Saints, a Brisbane band. Radio Birdman’s visceral performances, attended by thousands, are an important part of Australian musical history—not to mention the release of their first full-length studio album Radios Appear in 1977 to critical acclaim.

Through the cunning use of archival and present-day footage spliced together, Director Jonathan Sequeira has managed to capture the band’s journey and outlaw reputation on film—a journey that was also integral to the development of the independent music scene here in Australia. Descent into the Maelstrom chronicles the beginning of the Sydney punk scene, from the perspective of the band, including a look at The Funhouse, a venue managed by Radio Birdman and used as a base of operations of sorts, found in the back room of a pub in Taylor Square off Oxford Street and notorious for hosting any and all groups with similar musical tastes and on-stage charisma.

The band’s significant contribution to culture and the arts in this country should be celebrated. Descent into the Maelstrom has been called the greatest Australian music documentary, and I strongly believe that the public should be given the chance to make their own assessment of this. As such, I implore the ABC to reconsider acquiring the rights to the film and for it to be broadcast to the nation free-to-air. Indeed, keep The Funhouse alive! A decision by the ABC to show this documentary will have all contemporary music fans singing, ‘Yeah hup’!

Aug 15, 2018

Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail – Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:26): We have a proud maritime history in this country. We’ve spoken about the link between the merchant fleet and the naval fleet. At our time of greatest need, when John Curtin showed such extraordinary leadership in this country, we didn’t have a major naval presence at all. When we were under threat, he built—in such a short period of time, during wartime—three destroyers, 14 frigates, 60 corvettes and 30,000 small craft. The other thing that happened under Curtin’s leadership was that we were preparing craft and assisting both military craft and merchant craft vessels for our allies in Europe and in the United States. Nothing can state those linkages more than that acute period in which our very existence as a free and democratic nation was under threat. At that time, the Australian maritime sector grew, which then expanded into the postwar period under Chifley. Unfortunately, there wasn’t the same long-term foresight under Menzies that had occurred under Chifley and that occurred in the United States. A very similar thing happened in the United States. That’s the context of the Jones Act. It’s the link between the merchant fleet and the military needs of the United States.

I said to the minister to point to one thing in the legislation that was positive about the Australian industry, but he’s been unable to do so. That’s because there isn’t anything positive there. This is the latest tranche of Work Choices on water. This is about ideology and a sort of bizarre logic of, ‘If we have no Australian shipping industry, we therefore will have no MUA members,’ as opposed to, ‘What are the opportunities, including the opportunities to build and construct ships here and around the coast? What’s the potential for expansion of the manufacturing sector here in Australia?’

This is what Maritime Industry Australia Ltd say about whole of the legislation:

… there is nothing in the Bill to assist Australian shipowners compete with foreign ships that have all but unfettered access to coastal trades. We held low expectations on that front and unfortunately haven’t been disappointed there.

The regulatory impact statement of this legislation is very explicit about the goal of increasing the presence of foreign vessels around the coastline. It says:

… the current framework makes it unattractive for foreign ships to enter the coastal trading sector.

…   …   …

These amendments … will remove the barriers that currently face many foreign flagged vessels under the current system.

I spoke before about rail, road and other modes, and the disadvantages that they’re at. I want to quote them. These are Freight on Rail Group members: Aurizon; the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which is owned by the government; Ark Infrastructure; Genesee & Wyoming; Pacific National; Qube Holdings and SCT Logistics. This is what they said in their submission:

… the proposed amendments have the potential to introduce an unreasonable competitive advantage to foreign ships that may choose to compete in the domestic freight market. This unreasonable competitive advantage arises as the proposed amendments allow foreign shippers to compete in the domestic freight market against land freight transport operators that have to comply with all laws and regulations. In particular, exemptions would allow foreign ships to incur substantially lower wages, conditions and associated workplace relations costs when compared to rail, road and Australian-based coastal shipping companies.

There it is. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Andrews ): The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the honourable member for Grayndler.

Mr ALBANESE: I’m going to make this my last contribution to the debate.

Mr McCormack: Aw!

Mr ALBANESE: Although I might reconsider, given the support from those opposite! It’s important to know what the consequences are of what is happening on this government’s watch. Last year, the Australian flagged ship CSL Thevenard went to dry dock in Singapore and the crew were sacked—’You’ve lost your jobs.’ You know what? The ship is now back on our coast as the Acacia, with the Bahamas flag. To be very clear, they’ve renamed the ship; it’s the same ship. It’s operating around the coast but, instead of an Australian flag on the back, it has the flag of the Bahamas. Instead of Australian seafarers, it has foreign seafarers. It’s still operating around the coast. It had the Australian flag in 2016, just in case you think that was an accident.

The CSL Brisbane is now back on the coast. Guess what? It has changed its name from Brisbane. It’s now called the Adelie. It relinquished its general licence, and guess what? It replaced the Australian flag with the flag of the Bahamas. The foreign flagged transitional general licence and Australian crewed British Fidelity was withdrawn from the coastal trade by BP. That was our last petroleum tanker. We talk about fuel security in this country. The last one is gone.

The Australian crewed CSL Melbourne, carrying Rio Tinto alumina, was replaced by a foreign flagged ship with foreign crew. The same volume of alumina required transporting. In 2016, the Australian flagged and Australian crewed MV Portland, which has been carrying alumina from Western Australia to Alcoa’s Portland smelter for 27 years, was replaced by a foreign flagged ship with foreign crew. It is doing the same task. In 2015, the Australian flagged and crewed Alexander Spirit was withdrawn from service by Caltex. The Australian flagged and crewed Hugli Spirit was withdrawn from service by Caltex. The Australian flagged and crewed British Loyalty was withdrawn from service by BP. The Australian flagged and crewed Tandara Spirit was withdrawn from service by Viva. That happened in 2014. Also in 2014, the Australian flagged and crewed CSL Pacific was withdrawn and scrapped. In 2014, the Australian flagged and crewed Pacific Triangle was withdrawn by BHP. The crew were offloaded in Japan in December 2014 and replaced by a foreign crew. In what world is it okay for Australian seafarers to lose their jobs overseas and just be sent back while another flag is put on the back of a ship?

In 2013, as well, the Australian flagged and Australian crewed Lindesay Clark was withdrawn from Rio Tinto’s alumina trade when the Point Henry smelter was closed by Alcoa.

These are real consequences for the individuals involved, but there are real consequences for the Australian economy and for protection of the Australian environment and real national security considerations here. I say to the minister: I reiterate that Labor is prepared to engage constructively in dialogue for proper legislation that supports Australian based industry, but we can’t support this package, which is why we are moving these amendments. I commend the amendments to the House.

The SPEAKER: The question is that opposition amendments (2) and (4) to (14) as circulated by the member for Grayndler be agreed to.

Aug 15, 2018

 Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail – Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE ( Grayndler ) ( 18:05 ): by leave—I move amendment (2) and amendments (4) to (14) together, as circulated in my name:

(2) Schedule 1, item 9, page 5 (lines 1 and 2), omit the item.

(4) Schedule 1, item 16, page 5 (lines 24 and 25), omit the item.

(5) Schedule 1, item 36, page 8 (lines 25 to 27), omit the item.

(6) Schedule 1, items 37 to 40, page 8 (line 28) to page 9 (line 13), omit the items.

(7) Schedule 1, item 41, page 9 (lines 14 to 17), omit the item.

(8) Schedule 1, items 42 and 43, page 9 (lines 18 to 25), omit the items.

(9) Schedule 1, item 44, page 9 (lines 26 and 27), omit the item.

(10) Schedule 1, item 45, page 10 (lines 1 and 2), omit the item.

(11) Schedule 1, item 49, page 10 (line 16), after “43”, insert “or 51”.

(12) Schedule 1, items 58 and 59, page 11 (lines 10 to 13), omit the items.

(13) Schedule 1, items 61 to 63, page 11 (lines 16 to 26), omit the items.

(14) Schedule 1, item 65, page 12 (lines 21 to 25), omit subitem (4).

I note the enthusiasm of the minister for our moving these 12 amendments en bloc, because these are important amendments to schedule 1 of the legislation. They would omit a range of items from the legislation. Currently there are two types of licence variations to an existing temporary licence: authorised matters—that is, a change to a loading date or volume on an existing planned voyage; and new matters—authorising an entirely new voyage on an existing temporary licence. In the name of streamlining, the bill proposes replacing the two types of licence variations with a single temporary licence variation provision.

I’m sure that the government will justify this by saying, ‘Well, there are two things and we’re putting them into one and that makes it streamlined.’ What it does, though, is have massive implications. Reclassifying the addition of a new voyage to an existing temporary licence from a new matter to an authorised matter would halve, from the current two days to just 24 hours, the time available to a general licence holder—that is, an Australian based shipping operator—to apply for that new voyage.

One of the things that we know that the government has done in its decimation of the Australian shipping industry is that, for some voyages where a temporary licence was granted, it has replaced an Australian based ship—most notably, for example, the MV Portland—with a foreign ship. The temporary licence was granted without proper notification for Australian based ships that might have wanted to compete to undertake that work. So the advertising processes and the way that the department has conducted some of these operations, under instruction from the government, have had very real consequences. As the member for Shortland reiterated in his contribution, the Portland was basically taking alumina from Western Australia to Portland. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Order! The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the member for Grayndler.

Mr ALBANESE: They were the two destinations involved. There was nothing temporary about it. This had happened for decades. The Portland went from Western Australia, picked up the raw product, took it round to Portland in Victoria for processing and production, and then went back again. The idea of a temporary licence was that it would never be granted for something that was quite clearly permanent work. Yet, in that example, the way that the temporary licence was granted was, in my view, completely flawed and calls into question the integrity of the way that the existing legislation was being administered. People were literally thrown out of their beds in the middle of the night on that ship, sacked and replaced by foreign workers on a foreign ship with a temporary licence doing permanent work. And the existing ship, of course, sailed off to Singapore, from memory, to be sold off. And it was sailed off by foreign workers, not the existing workforce, unlike some of the other atrocities that have been committed on this government’s watch, when Australian seafarers have been told in Singapore that they’ve lost their jobs and been flown back while the ship was flogged off to foreign interests.

There are a whole range of questions about how it is that those foreign seafarers were granted visas to be on that ship off the coast of Portland to take the vessel back. It is a great example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to the integrity of the visa system and the integrity of our borders. The government has a free-for-all when it comes to our borders, as long as it concerns a foreign seafarer working for a pittance often under flags of convenience—vessels flagged in places like Panama and various places where there are no taxation regimes and where ships have often, quite rightly, been called ships of shame as a result of the environmental disasters that have occurred and been associated with much of that industry.

Reclassifying the addition of a new voyage and just calling it an ‘authorised matter’ is cutting in half the capacity for the Australian based industry to bid for that voyage. It makes it even more difficult for Australian vessels to compete. And, again, this is what the industry says. Had Minister Chester bothered to consult properly with the industry, he would have been told:

Any new voyage should be subject to the existing timeframes for GL holders to respond or else the integrity of the system is undermined as GL holders rights/opportunities are reduced.

That’s what industry has to say. This legislation was so bad that the member for New England didn’t bring it forward. You look around the chamber: there are only about eight people here, but there are four former ministers. They change as often as some of the members opposite change their socks. The legislation drafted by Minister Chester was so bad that Minister Joyce didn’t bring it forward. That’s how bad it was. It was too bad for him. Have a good look at yourself, I say to Minister Chester. And I say to the new minister: have a good look at yourself. You don’t have to look in the mirror; have a look over there. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the member for Grayndler

Mr ALBANESE: Because it is quite extraordinary—and I’ve lost him; Barnaby Joyce is showing me the loyalty he’s showing the coalition from day to day on that side.

The truth is that this legislation is lousy legislation. When it comes to the variation of temporary licences, it essentially cannot be justified because, again, it is aimed at: what’s the purpose of the legislation? For the many people out there who I’m sure are listening intently to this debate, wondering what TL and GL and some of these provisions are, I say to them that a lot of it’s pretty simple. The measures in these amendments the government is trying to operate with this piece of legislation follow Minister Truss’s disastrous legislation, which couldn’t even get a second reading through the Senate—and I predict that this will also meet a similar fate. There isn’t one thing—and I say to the minister that in his response it would be nice if he could point to one thing—in this legislation that is supportive of Australian industry. I’ve pointed to a range of measures in these amendments that, for example, change it from two days to 24 hours—changing it so that Australian ships don’t have a capacity to bid—and a range of the other amendments I have spoken about. Can the minister point to one thing in this piece of legislation that is supportive of Australian industry? What each of the measures in this legislation has in common is that they’re all designed to make it more difficult for Australian ships to compete with foreign ships.

And I say this: the party of Black Jack McEwen and the party of Doug Anthony wouldn’t cop this sort of legislation, because, historically, one of the things that the Country Party had in common, I think, with the Labor Party in many instances was a sense of nationalism and a preparedness to defend Australian national interests, industries and jobs. There was actually that understanding there. Yes, there’s a market, but this isn’t a free market. You’re asking Australian ships to compete around our coast doing Australian-only jobs. We’re not talking about international trade. We’re talking about taking freight essentially from one place in Australia to another place in Australia, just like a truck or a train, except one group has to pay Australian wages and conditions, has ships that are maintained to Australian standards, has environmental protections built in and has proper security clearances for everyone who works in the ships, versus a foreign ship that has foreign wages, foreign overheads and foreign maintenance conditions that aren’t as good as those in Australia, and the foreign ship doesn’t pay any tax, because it has a flag of Panama or some other flag of convenience on the back of it.

The fact is that not only are you saying, ‘Oh, well, that’s fair, we won’t recognise there’s a difference there’; you’re also changing the rules in this legislation to make it harder for the Australian based ship to compete. There are real consequences. We won’t have an Australian maritime skills base. We’re an island continent, for goodness sake! The idea that that doesn’t matter is just absurd. I say to the minister that there is an opportunity now to point to a single positive measure in this legislation that says, ‘This is in the interests of Australian ships’ capacity to compete.’


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