Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Feb 12, 2018

Questions without notice – Deputy Prime Minister

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:56): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure. I refer to his answers today in which he has defended Victoria receiving under 10 per cent of federal infrastructure funding by mentioning funds that have been reallocated; argued Inland Rail would benefit Tasmania; defended South Australia receiving two per cent of funds in his portfolio by talking about his colleague’s portfolio; and, on the northern roads program being not spent, he referred to the Nullarbor. Isn’t the infrastructure minister simply not up to the job that he has been appointed to? (Time expired)

Feb 12, 2018

Private Members’ Business – United Nations World Radio Day

Federation Chamber 

That this House:

(1) observes:

(a) United Nations World Radio Day (WRD) on 13 February 2018;

(b) this year’s WRD theme of ‘Radio and Sports’ which calls on us to:

   (i) celebrate the role of radio in promoting Australian sports and the inspiring stories of our high achieving sportspeople and teams;

   (ii) support and promote the grassroots sports that anchor us within our communities;

   (iii) be inspired by the stories that challenge gender stereotypes; and

      (iv) equally cover both men’s and women’s sports events;

(2) recognises the:

(a) unique ability of sport to unite and inspire Australians of all backgrounds, and the iconic nature of many Australian sporting events;

(b) power of radio to unite, inform and entertain Australians throughout the nation and across commercial, public and community broadcasting;

(c) particular importance of publicly funded radio in regional and remote Australia, especially during natural disasters;

(d) critical importance of publicly funded radio for our culturally and linguistically diverse communities through the SBS; and

      (e) role of community broadcasters in nurturing new Australian talent including sports broadcasters, journalists and producers;

(3) acknowledges:

(a) the significant disparity between the coverage of men’s and women’s sports in Australia in radio broadcasting, as well as television, print and online; and

      (b) the need to address this disparity to encourage greater participation in women’s sports and to recognise the achievements of our women athletes; and

(4) calls for:

(a) commercial, public and community radio broadcasters to cover more women’s sports and to ensure there is a diversity of voices in sports commentary; and

(b) greater recognition of the extraordinary achievements of our women’s sports teams in the media, including by ensuring equal public funding.

Tomorrow, 13 February, marks the United Nations World Radio Day. This year’s theme is radio and sports. It’s particularly relevant to Australia this year, with its strong focus on more equal coverage of women’s sports as well as the promotion of women’s voices in sport. In Australia over the last few years we’ve seen the increasing professionalisation of women’s sport, including in the AFLW and women’s cricket. And I’m excited about the launch of the new NRL Women’s Premiership this year, following the success of the Jillaroos in the Ruby League World Cup.

But one of the challenges ahead is to ensure that as women’s sport grows they are afforded meaningful air time. The last time the data was analysed, just seven per cent of all sports coverage in Australian media was of women’s sport. That does not reflect the make-up of our society or sports participation, nor our aspirations as a modern, egalitarian nation. These imbalances have real consequences. They deny women and girls exposure to sport and the encouragement which comes from them seeing their role models work hard for their success.

Fortunately, this is beginning to change. Over the summer you could watch our women’s cricket team play in the Ashes or listen on ABC Grandstand. You can also watch the entire season of the AFLW on free-to-air and pay channels. Just yesterday, I watched a remarkable result with Ash Barty and Casey Dellacqua winning the final match to secure the tie in the Federation Cup right here in Canberra, shown live on free-to-air TV.

As well as covering the matches, there is also a role for all our broadcasters—commercial, public and community—in helping to ensure that women’s voices are not just tolerated but celebrated in sports journalism. In the words of Melbourne broadcaster, Angela Pippos, who has written a book on the subject, the sports media in Australia is still largely, to quote her, ‘Pale, male and stale’, a sad indictment!

One way to change that is to ensure there is a very strong talent pipeline, so this motion also recognises the important role of publicly funded radio, including the ABC, SBS and community radio in supporting up-and-coming talent. It’s only been in the last few decades that women were welcomed into sports media. Debbie Spillane was the first full-time female broadcaster to be hired by ABC Sport, and that was just in 1984. She told Mamamia last year that there’s a long way to go, saying:

Until women are trusted to be the person who describes the action, play by play, ball by ball, then women in sports media will always be second class citizens.

I hope that this motion will receive bipartisan support and shine a light on the work of many of our fantastic female sports journalists, presenters, broadcasters and commentators. I also hope that it will help to inspire the next generation to get involved in radio, and consider sports as a viable specialty—whatever their gender.

On this World Radio Day we can also acknowledge that radio can connect, inform, entertain and strengthen our communities in other significant ways. The thing about modern life is that mobility is increasingly important. Unlike a television screen, radio can travel with you. While you’re doing other tasks, while you’re travelling in the car, while you’re being involved around the house, the radio can connect you to people, and it can engage community feedback.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was interviewed in Melbourne on the community radio station 3KND, which stands for 3 Kool n Deadly. It’s Melbourne’s first Indigenous owned and managed radio station. As well as discussing politics and current affairs, I also chatted with Charles Pakana about sports and the fantastic connections Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have with sport. There are many fantastic elements of radio and sports. We just need to make sure that they reflect the interests, talents and real achievements of our whole population, not just a few. I hope people enjoy World Radio Day tomorrow and that it helps us to focus on the future ahead.

Feb 8, 2018

Adjournment – Western Sydney Rail

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:29): I rise today to once again support Western Sydney Rail. I do so because it is an essential component of improving liveability and boosting productivity and job creation in Western Sydney. At present, there are only 0.75 jobs for every local worker. As a result, one-third of Western Sydney workers—more than 300,000 people—have to travel to other parts of the city, particularly to the CBD, daily for work. Travel times can be up to two hours each way. The other thing that doesn’t work about Western Sydney is that, because of the nature of Sydney’s growth, it works in a hub and spoke, with the hub of Sydney’s transport being the CBD, with the spokes going out. There are no north-south public transport rail links in Western Sydney. That’s why the north-south corridor from the main Western Sydney line extending up to the north to Rouse Hill but then down through to the Macarthur region is so critical and why Labor declared our support for such a project prior to the last federal election. We reconfirmed that in a visit I had with Bill Shorten last year.

The fact is that, to travel one way by train from Marsden Park or Riverstone south to Camden or Campbelltown can take as long as 2½ hours. What that means is that there’s great car dependency in Western Sydney. The high dependency on the car means the average Western Sydney family currently spends approximately $22,000 a year on transport costs, according to the Australian Automobile Association’s Transport Affordability Index. The study of the benefits of Western Sydney Rail done by Deloitte and Arup on behalf of the Western Sydney Rail Alliance and the Committee for Sydney found this:

The economic benefits of the corridor are clear. From 2024 to 2040, north-south rail will add $44.7 billion in benefits to the economy, reaching $3.6 billion per year by 2040.

…   …   …

There can be no doubt that a north south rail solution is crucial to the sustainable development of the Western Sydney Growth Corridor and its future as a smart city.

That’s why we need to do two things. We need to extend the south-west rail link from Leppington via Bringelly to the new Western Sydney Airport, and we need that new outer-orbital line from Macarthur in the south to St Marys in the north through the Western Sydney Airport. This must be available from day one so that we can maximise the economic benefits, the job creation, of not just the airport itself but the employment lands around the airport that we see, particularly in that corridor to the north of the Badgerys Creek site right through to Penrith.

A lot of great planning has been done by the councils in the region. The councils have all supported that north-south corridor for a rail line. This is an important part as well of overall city planning. Labor, of course, supports making the concept of the 30-minute city a reality. This is a one-off opportunity in Western Sydney to grow the economy, to grow jobs and to get it right on what are, in many areas—such as the employment lands to the north as well as the airport site—greenfield sites. Projects like the science park being developed by the private sector will deliver in themselves some 12,000 jobs. We want those jobs to be available to people who live in Penrith and Campbelltown, and that’s why this corridor is so critical.

Now, after many decades of prevarication and dispute, the Western Sydney Airport is moving forward as a reality with bipartisan support. An area of disagreement is this issue of public transport. Public transport must be available on the day that the airport opens, and that’s why I call upon the government to commit to it. This is an essential infrastructure project.

Feb 7, 2018

Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2017

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:15): I rise to oppose the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2017, and I do so consistent with my view over a long period of time that you can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity. This piece of legislation seeks to impose draconian measures. It seeks to give the minister too much power and it undermines Australia’s proud record as a nation of compassion, as a nation that respects human rights and as a nation that is prepared to treat people in a fundamentally decent way—to treat them with respect. That is what we all expect of every human being in the way that they relate to other human beings. That is what we teach our young people. It is what I got taught growing up as a young person in this country, both at home and in school.

This legislation seeks to amend the Migration Act to allow the immigration minister to determine a ‘thing’ as prohibited in relation to immigration detention facilities and detainees. What a ‘thing’ is is not given any serious definition. The bill would provide for a minister, on a whim, to determine that something was a ‘thing’ and therefore to be excluded, without any recourse to review or sensible action after the event. Were legislation to come before this chamber outlawing the presence of ‘things’ that should not be in detention centres or anywhere else for that matter, like weapons, drugs and child pornography—things that are either dangerous to detainees or to other people, or abhorrent to all—the opposition would be very sympathetic to the fact that the government is suggesting that these things have been available while this government has been in office.

I am reminded that the time they have been in office is approaching five years now. They’ve had a term and a half in office, but, from their rhetoric, you would think they were much more comfortable on this side of the House. They behave each and every day like an opposition in exile on the government benches rather than a government that actually has the capacity to govern truly in the national interest, that has the capacity to bring Australians together and that has the capacity to forge a common path to support national unity. They are a government that is always looking for division, always looking for a wedge and always looking, with great hyperbole, for a way to present itself as being the only thing standing between order and chaos in this country. Well, in fact, this bill would advance chaos. It would undermine our respect for proper legal processes.

The bill amends search and seizure powers, including the use of detector or sniffer dogs, for screening of detainees and visitors. It would apply a new statutory power to search facilities operated by or for the Commonwealth in order to enforce both existing and new prohibitions. It is an example of legislative overreach—not the first one we’ve seen from the former immigration minister and now Minister for Home Affairs. The products that were identified in the minister’s introductory speech—as I said, drugs, weapons and child exploitation material—should never be found in detention centres or anywhere else. The people working to protect our borders should have the proper powers to search for and remove contraband.

The fact is that, whilst Labor is certainly willing to work with the government to strengthen search and seizure powers, measures must be proportionate to the risk, appropriate to the circumstances and necessary as proven by the evidence. That’s one of the reasons why we supported the referral of this legislation for inquiry. That inquiry found that overwhelmingly the submissions, which came forward from a whole range of organisations, opposed the bill as it is currently drafted. Indeed, there were 82 submissions made to the Senate inquiry and, of those, 80 submissions raised concerns about the bill as it is currently drafted.

The organisations include the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid New South Wales, FECCA, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, the UNSW Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, the Refugee Council of Australia, Rural Australians for Refugees, the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre, the National Justice Project, the Australian Association of Social Workers, Amnesty International Australia, Refugee Legal, Monash University Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. All of these organisations, diverse as they are, were united in identifying weaknesses in this legislation.

The evidence from the Senate inquiry found that this bill is an overreach by the minister, who wants to grant himself unchecked power by being able to prohibit any items, without making a case for it and in a way that avoids parliamentary scrutiny. This is really sloppy legislation. As someone who has had experience in the area of transport security, with regard to aviation in particular, I know that you must always be accountable for what you’re doing. This bill seeks to remove that and would allow the minister virtually unfettered power to determine that something was literally a thing that should be prohibited and without proper review. The bill, indeed, would allow the minister to determine a thing as prohibited without discrimination. It then seeks to amend the search and seizure powers of authorised border protection officers and their assistants to search for, confiscate and destroy those things deemed to be prohibited by the minister. The definition of a prohibited item under this legislation may include anything if it might—not that it will—be considered a risk to the health, safety or security of persons in a detention facility or to the order of the facility itself. Examples include mobile phones, SIM cards, computer tablets, medications, healthcare supplements, food and literature.

There are a range of people in detention here. As of 31 October last year, there were 1,264 people in onshore immigration detention. Of those, 462 related to character cancellations under section 501; 324 were irregular maritime arrivals; and 478 were the other detention group, including visa overstayers, noncitizens who have breached visa conditions and travellers who didn’t get through the immigration clearance system. Currently, visitors to immigration detention and transit facilities must pass through a metal detector or be ‘wanded’ with a metal detector, but officers don’t have the power to ask visitors to empty their pockets or deploy a sniffer dog or search a visitor if they have a reasonable suspicion that the visitor is carrying contraband.

In February 2017, the government banned mobile phones in immigration detention centres, but a detainee was successful in obtaining an injunction from the Federal Court. They were successful because the court found that officers didn’t have that authority. The department appealed the injunction to the Federal Court in August, and they lost. This is a government that has lost, because at times they haven’t sought to change the law before they have tried to act as if the law had been changed. On this occasion, they are trying to change the law but they are doing so in a way which is so sloppy, and it goes to the politics of this issue.

For reasons that are perhaps beyond my own comprehension, I agreed to do an interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday, with Miranda Devine, who is someone with very strong views across a range of issues. One of the things that she put to me in that interview was: ‘It’s actually putting out a very tough line that seems not to be very kind or human in order to stop the people smugglers having a product to sell, in order to stop the boats.’ What that is doing, be it the advocates for the government or the government itself—sometimes the advocates are a bit more up-front than the government—is not really about sending a message to the people smugglers or to asylum seekers; it is about sending a domestic message. It is about sending a domestic message for political purposes in order to be, as Miranda Devine put to me, not very human, essentially, towards fellow human beings. That was the question put to me. I think we are a better country than that. I think we can do much better than that. I think we can be very tough on people smugglers, without resorting to, as a conscious decision, treating people as less than human; that should be our objective. In response to that, I said: ‘What you seem to be suggesting is that we would consciously mistreat people in order to send a message. I hope it is not the government’s policy. They certainly say it isn’t.’ The amendments in this message, in my view, are aimed at sending that domestic political message. It is clouded by pretending that it is about sending a message somewhere else. It is really about a domestic political message, putting up something that no-one with any sense of compassion or decency, no-one who has been raised with a view that we have a responsibility to be kind to others and to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated—as a philosopher who many on the other side say they follow said most famously—would do. That is why this legislation is, frankly, unsupportable. We are quite happy to support measures that are appropriate. We have no problem with that whatsoever, but this legislation simply goes too far, and that is why it is not worthy of support.

Feb 5, 2018

Adjournment – Australia Day

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (19:30): In recent times, there has been an increasing level of debate about the significance of Australia Day being held on 26 January. There is no doubt that this has the potential to be a divisive debate. Indeed, it looks like some in the commentariat are looking for an argument, not a solution. Finding a way forward is more important than re-running old arguments. Our nation needs to reconcile itself with the past as a precondition of creating a better future, one in which we all embrace a common vision of what it means to be Australian in the 21st century. Instead of emphasising our differences, let us create a platform for unity. Australia Day is a time for acknowledging both the good and the bad about our past, assessing where we are as a nation today and contemplating our vision for the future.

All Australians must acknowledge that this commemoration of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 is a difficult one for the First Australians. The arrival of Europeans disrupted the longest continuous civilisation on Earth and was accompanied by dispossession, violence, disease and trauma which are still felt today with the tragic gap in life expectancy, education and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It is understandable that many Indigenous Australians refer to 26 January as ‘Survival Day’. Every Australia Day is a reminder that there is much unfinished business to achieve reconciliation, including recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in our Constitution, but also practical measures to close the gap on living standards, jobs, education and health outcomes.

The story of modern Australia is also one of migration since the 18th century. We are a nation which has welcomed millions of people from all parts of the globe, seeking a better life for themselves, their families and the generations to come. On Australia Day this year, as in other years, tens of thousands of people pledged their allegiance to our country and became citizens. Australia has been enriched by its multiculturalism—people who are loyal to Australia but have contributed their language, music, culture and of course food from their countries of birth. Australia has enormous natural advantages, but it is our people that make us the envy of the world and indeed ‘the lucky country’, and we’re confident enough that it’s only a matter of time before we have an Australian head of state.

One of the tasks of political leadership is to bring people together on the journey of change in a way that promotes unity and isolates division. It seems to me that the purpose of Australia Day—to consider Australia’s past, present and future—provides an opportunity. I’m a strong supporter of constitutional change to recognise the First Australians, and I’m in favour of a republic. A referendum held on 26 January to recognise First Australians in our Constitution, along with a second question about the move to being a republic, would be an exciting opportunity to forge a path forward for Australia’s future. It would mean Australia had a day that recognised our modern history of new arrivals; our continuous history of Indigenous Australians, dating back at least 65,000 years; and our declaration of confidence that we are a modern, independent state with an Australian as its head. I don’t declare that this proposal is the idea, just an idea, to avert a divisive debate about when to celebrate Australia Day.

I note Noel Pearson’s proposition in The Australian two weeks ago about celebrating both 25 January and 26 January. To me it has a certain logic because, increasingly, I witness more discussion about issues confronting the First Australians, past, present and future, around Australia Day. The Uluru Statement from the Heart has advanced a constructive proposal for a voice for first nations after extensive engagement, and that is not a proposal for a third chamber of parliament.

Australians want harmony based on mutual respect. The impasse on advancing reconciliation must be broken, and decision-makers, civil society and, most crucially, First Australians must be engaged in forging a new path forward. A necessary element will be ensuring that the First Australians have a sense of ownership over our national day of celebration.

Feb 5, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Aviation Rescue and Firefighting Services

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:13): I move:

That this House:

(1) declares:

(a) its support for the vital work performed each and every day by the highly trained professionals providing aviation rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) services to ensure the safety of the flying public;

(b) that the ARFF service is particularly important to the safe operation of airports in regional Australia where it also responds to non-aviation emergencies within its local communities; and

   (c) that the presence of the ARFF service is key to safeguarding the safety and security at major metropolitan and regional airports around the country, which is critical for international and domestic tourism; and

(2) calls on the Government to reject any proposal to increase the threshold for the provision of ARFF services at airports from the existing 350,000 passenger movements annually, noting that this would preclude the establishment of these services at Proserpine Whitsunday Coast Airport and lead to the removal of these services from the following regional communities: Ballina; Coffs Harbour; Ayres Rock; Gladstone; Hamilton Island; Broome; Karratha; Newman; and Port Hedland.

Firefighting services at our nation’s airports are critical to the safety of travellers. Our nation has an excellent record when it comes to aviation safety. We also have a strong commitment to investment in the emergency services that would be necessary in the event of an accident. Indeed, in 2009, as transport minister in the Labor government, I was proud to deliver a $70 million program to upgrade fire trucks at our nation’s busiest airports. It included 33 new trucks, new fire stations at Perth and Maroochydore, new vehicles to meet the needs of the A380 and fire alarm monitoring at 20 locations nationwide.

Safety is also critical at our smaller regional airports. In 2014, the aviation rescue and firefighting services responded to some 6,700 calls relating to airport emergency assistance. That’s why I today, through this motion, am calling upon the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to reject the absurd proposal for a reduction in firefighting capacity at regional airports. Current Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations require an aviation fire and rescue service at every Australian airport that has at least 350,000 passengers travelling through it each year. However, CASA has recently accepted recommendations from an infrastructure department aviation rescue and firefighting services regulatory policy review which would weaken this standard. Going forward, the threshold would rise to 500,000 passenger movements a year. This idea makes no sense. The minister for transport should reject it today in the interests of safety and regional economic development. Under the international standards and regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, aviation firefighters are specifically trained. They must be stationed to be able to respond within three minutes to an aircraft crash or fire for the best chance of rescue. Our existing standards and thresholds on provision of aerodrome rescue and firefighting services reflect Australia’s commitment to ICAO standards and recommended practices, including article 9.2.1, which provides that rescue and firefighting equipment and services shall be provided at an aerodrome.

Let’s look in practical terms at what the acceptance of this proposal would mean for regional communities that rely upon jobs in tourism and regional aviation to get access to capital cities. Here are some airports that have aviation rescue and firefighting services and are below the 500,000 passenger threshold: Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Ayers Rock, Gladstone, Hamilton Island, Broome, Karratha, Newman and Port Hedland. I understand that, under pressure from local communities and Labor, the government’s considering maintaining firefighting services at these airports and then imposing a new threshold from here on in. That, of course, would be good for those airports and communities that have fought to maintain these services, including, of course, the union that represents them. However, it would lead to a two-tiered system. In the future, airports with passenger movements between 350,000 and 500,000 per year would not be provided with firefighting facilities. Other airports are on the cusp of meeting this criterion, including Proserpine. It should have an aviation firefighting service established because 353,000 passengers passed through that airport last year. The government must today state clearly that the Proserpine airport will be provided with rescue and firefighting services. Just make a decision and support this community.

The change being contemplated should be rejected. Anyone who has had the privilege of being a minister in a government knows that, from time to time, bad ideas come forward from the bureaucracy. Some of them, once rejected, keep coming back again and again. This is one of those ideas. It first came to my attention when I was a minister and I banished it. It was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now. These are issues upon which the minister for transport, who’s new to the portfolio, needs to deliver. The fact is that, across the board, issues of aviation safety—the safety of the travelling public—have been bipartisan issues. That needs to continue to be the case. The minister should rule out these proposals today and do it urgently in the interests of those communities, in the interests of firefighting in Australia and in the interests of regional economic development in those communities.

Feb 5, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:59): I rise to take the opportunity to contribute to this debate, which acknowledges the importance of the trade and economic relationship between Australia and Japan. In particular, I welcome the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Australia-Japan Agreement on Commerce. Indeed, given the history of World War II, it’s quite a remarkable thing that we’re recognising that 60 years ago, just after the end of that conflict, Australia and Japan entered into a relationship based upon friendship and, whilst not forgetting the past, acknowledged the need for us to move forward into the future as two peoples in two sovereign nations. Indeed, what a success that relationship has been over the last 60 years! There is no doubt that there is a significant opportunity, moving forward, for that relationship to continue to be strengthened. It is of mutual benefit to our two nations—in terms of job creation and our cooperation in international forums—that our trade relationship has formed the basis of that. It has been of great benefit, Japan being a major importer from Australia of our resources, our agriculture and our technology, which has allowed Japan to be one of the economic success stories of the late 20th century.

Indeed, Japan has played an important role in international forums. Twice as a minister in the previous government I was able to go to Japan, and on a number of occasions I was able to host here in Australia infrastructure delegations from Japan. Japan was critical in forming the MEET, as it was known—the ministerial council on energy and emissions in transport. Japan understood that, in playing an important role in the development of the Kyoto Protocol—the global foundation that came out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Kyoto—we need to work cooperatively as an international community to drive down our emissions, and one of the ways we can do that is in the transport sector. That’s why Japan has been at the forefront of the development of electric vehicles and zero-emissions transport.

Japan’s success in the postwar period has been put down to many things, but one critical factor is the development of high-speed rail. With the Shinkansen, they were ahead of the rest of the world in having the vision of being able to transport large numbers of people in very short periods of time, and they continue to lead the world in that technology. They have much to offer Australia as we seek to develop a high-speed rail network down the east coast. Just as high-speed rail stacks up in Japan, just as it has led to significant economic development along the routes in regional centres in Japan, Australia has much to gain from high-speed rail. So I look forward to continuing to have discussions with executives from the Japanese rail sector on how their knowledge can provide a basis of support for the development of high-speed rail here in Australia. We know that it stacks up, with a return of more than $2 for every dollar of investment between Sydney and Melbourne, and we know that it could be a major factor in developing our regional economies, taking pressure off the capital cities on the east coast.

I commend the resolution to the House and I look forward to strengthening the friendship between Australia and Japan in the future.

Dec 7, 2017

Questions Without Notice – Broadband

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:52): My question is to the Prime Minister. The member for Warringah once famously ordered the now Prime Minister to demolish the NBN. Given that the Prime Minister’s second-rate NBN is plagued by cost blowouts and problems with speed and reliability and is subject to a record number of complaints from Australians, can the Prime Minister now proudly declare to the member for Warringah ‘mission accomplished’?
Dec 7, 2017

Adjournment – Queensland Infrastructure

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:26): A key issue in the recent Queensland state election was the future of the Cross River Rail project. The Labor team of Annastacia Palaszczuk, re-elected as Premier, promised to build Cross River Rail. Jackie Trad, the re-elected Deputy Premier, as the infrastructure minister, promised to build it. The coalition opposed it. Labor won a decisive victory, picking up seats, particularly in South-East Queensland. What the Cross River Rail project will do by providing a second river crossing is expand the capacity of the entire rail network, not just in Brisbane, but for the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. This is a project that was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012. It was the No. 1 project on the Infrastructure Australia priority list. So we put funding in the budget for it in 2013. Indeed, we had an agreement with the Newman government and with Scott Emerson as their transport minister to fund it: $715 million from both levels of government and an availability payment model to ensure financing for a project that would create thousands of jobs in construction, lift productivity and address the issue of urban congestion. We know that urban congestion cost the Australian economy $16.5 billion in 2015 alone. That’s why this project should be funded. The agreement with Campbell Newman’s government was based upon that mixture of grants as well as innovative funding mechanisms like value capture for the new stations around Woolloongabba and along the route.

Tony Abbott, when he became the Prime Minister, scrapped that arrangement—he came to office saying that he would withdraw all funding from any public transport project that wasn’t under construction. He said in 2009 in his book Battlelinesthat this was an ideological position. He said:

Mostly, there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.

That was the philosophy outlined in Tony Abbott’s book Battlelines. He became Prime Minister and he put that philosophy into action. He had no understanding of cities and that the need to move vast numbers of people can only be done through public transport. There is of course a role for roads. That’s why we funded the Ipswich Motorway and that’s why we funded upgrades to the Gateway Motorway and other road projects in Brisbane and South-East Queensland, such as the Pacific Motorway.

But Cross River Rail is the game changer. With the change in prime ministership, we now have a Prime Minister who likes taking selfies on trains; he just won’t fund them. He should fund this project because it has been voted for by the people of Queensland over and over again. Indeed, the former Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson, who I sat down and negotiated the arrangements with, lost his seat in parliament. He was one of the people who fell over due to their failure in the Queensland election. I’m conscious of the fact that Tim Nicholls, the extraordinary leader of the LNP in Queensland, this numpty, won’t even concede defeat even though it is very clear that he has lost the election and that the Palaszczuk government has been re-elected. Queenslanders got it right on Cross River Rail. It’s now time for the Commonwealth government to come to the party and to help fund this project and to do what the current Prime Minister says he supports—engage in cities policy, engage in urban policy, support public transport and fund the Cross River Rail project.

Dec 7, 2017

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:55): Those great philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards once sang: ‘You can’t always get you what you want, but you get what you need.’ This bill is what people need. They do not need delay or for the bill to be put off or for a series of amendments to be carried by this House that then get referred to the Senate, begin the whole debate all over again and return to this House at some time in the future.

What my community want, as they have clearly indicated, is to get this done. That’s what Australians voted for in overwhelming numbers. Is this bill perfect? No. It’s a product of a consensus. It is a product of a collective effort by people of goodwill, across the Senate, to ensure that reform can move forward. During the voluntary postal survey, I and other advocates of a vote for yes, in response to the misleading campaigns of those who suggested that this would have all sorts of unknown consequences to the lives of people who won’t be impacted by this legislation at all, clearly said: ‘There is a bill already. It’s a bill in the name of Dean Smith in the Senate.’ It’s a bill which has received, quite remarkably, unanimous support and consensus in the Senate.

I say to the member for Melbourne that there’s a time when you don’t think, ‘Oh, I can make this improvement here so that it satisfies all of my wants.’ This bill is it. This isn’t a time for grandstanding. This isn’t a time for trying to ensure there’s product differentiation. This is a time for national unity. This is a time for support by people of goodwill, across this parliament, and I pay tribute to people on the other side of the chamber—people I don’t normally agree with—because it’s hard. It’s easier if you’re in a party looking for purity all of the time on every issue and you say, ‘I think maybe there might perhaps be consequences to this, though I don’t think they’re real,’ which is what the member for Melbourne just indicated, and it is what he indicated in his second reading speech. He spoke about these amendments as restating things that are already in the Sex Discrimination Act. He said that this amendment would seek to change the title of the bill. Guess what? Do a survey of Australians and see how many people know the title of any particular bill, and I’d be amazed if you still want to hold up marriage equality in order to make change that is not of substance.

That’s a fundamental area of disagreement that I have and why I’m in a major party, the Australian Labor Party. What I do in this place is come in here to make a real difference to real people and to real lives. That is what this legislation will do. That is why all of the amendments to this legislation should be rejected, whether they be the amendments we’re considering now or future amendments moved by some of the opponents of marriage equality seeking to make changes which are not necessary. These issues were considered during the Senate processes. We have an outcome—we have an outcome that will produce marriage equality and can do it today. The big campaign of marriage equality was ‘let’s get this done’. Let’s not delay, let’s not look for areas of disagreement, because that’s simply not productive. I say to the member for Melbourne that I think it’s unfortunate that these unnecessary amendments are being moved. I won’t be supporting them. I call upon other members of the House not to support them, not to support the other amendments and to get this done today.


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