Question Without Notice - Carbon Pricing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:4 1): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister update the House on the Steel Transformation Plan Bill? Why is this legislation important to the Australian steel industry and what would be the impact on workers and industry if the steel transformation plan is not established? Mr COMBET (Charlton—Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:41): I thank the member for Cunningham because she certainly has a very keen interest in seeing the steel transformation plan implemented. Of course, it was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday along with the other clean energy bills and it was opposed—astonishingly—by the Liberal and National Parties. As is well known, the steel industry is facing very difficult times in this country. Global markets are struggling. The high value of the dollar has made steel exports less competitive and imports cheaper, and iron ore and coking coal prices are high. The two major companies have been losing money in their steel production and we are already seeing job losses and the closure of a blast furnace in Port Kembla because of these factors. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in Detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (21:53): I rise to oppose the opposition's amendment to the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and related bills before us tonight. It is an amendment about timing. I want to reiterate some important words to the House. I will quote the policy to be accurate. It says: We have an obligation to manage climate change responsibly on behalf of future generations, so that our prosperity today is a legacy they too can enjoy tomorrow. The Australian economy depends more on fossil fuels for its wealth generation and power supply than most developed economies and we are a significant supplier of energy to the world. Adjusting to a carbon-constrained economy will entail costs. We cannot change the structure of our economy overnight and we need to manage the transition with care. Yet, as well as costs, the same transition will also present new opportunities. We are richly endowed with natural assets that will be valuable in a carbonconstrained world— (Quorum formed) I will continue as I was quoting: We are richly endowed with natural assets that will be valuable in a carbon-constrained world, including high-quality geological and biological sequestration sites, large uranium reserves and abundant renewable energy resources, including geothermal energy opportunities. An important component of Australia’s climate change policy is developing key low emissions technologies to realise these opportunities. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (22:04): I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the House for the opportunity to finish the comments that were interrupted by the quorum call previously. I just want to again put into context the comments that I am contributing about the amendment by the opposition on timing by indicating again the climate change policy in July 2007 of the then government led by those opposite, which said: Australia’s domestic policies will influence, and be influenced by, effective and practical international responses to climate change. It may take some time for a truly effective international framework for emissions reductions to emerge. It is likely that in the near term progress will be made through national and bilateral actions. A domestic emissions trading system, investment in low emissions technologies and energy efficiency measures in Australia will create opportunities as the international framework emerges. Within the context of the 2007 policy of those opposite I want to indicate that my colleague the member for Throsby and I attended an important event in our area, which was the announcement and unveiling of longwall mining machinery by Gujarat NRE, an important local mining company in our area, and a celebration of that. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in Detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (20:11): I take the opportunity to speak in the consideration in detail stage of the clean energy bills, having already spoken in the second reading debate, to do two things that have developed since I last spoke. The first is to address the disgraceful vote today on the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, which those opposite, who claim to be concerned for the welfare of people in the steel industry, failed to support and which would provide very important, strategic and needed support to the steel industry. In particular, I could not believe my colleague Joanna Gash, the member for Gilmore, sat on the other side of the House and voted against the Steel Industry Transformation Plan, and no doubt Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who has an office in my area, will also vote against that bill. The reality is that the steel industry at this time needs those opposite to support this bill. I point out to those opposite that BlueScope as a company have made it quite clear that the carbon tax is not the issue that they are confronting. They are confronting the international circumstances and the level of the Australian dollar. Continue reading

Australian Industry Participation Plan

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (20:23): It is a very special level of punishment to have to follow the member for Indi in any debate. Her capacity to spend 15 minutes criticising, spewing vitriol, misrepresenting people's positions and failing to put forward any alternative has a special level of achievement in parliamentary debates. I would simply say to her that I cannot even be bothered responding to most of her arguments because they are so lacking in foundation anyway. I would be interested to know whether the member for Casey has a particular view on the member for Indi's approach to manufacturing and whether there is an interest in a more market interventionist approach more generally on the benches on the other side. Quite contrary to the member for Indi's complete misrepresentation, the member for Throsby and I do visit many of our local manufacturing businesses and talk to them on a regular basis. Indeed, I have done so for all the years I have been in parliament and my colleague the member for Throsby has done so since he was elected. I could hardly think of a more inaccurate criticism to be made of the member for Throsby for bringing this motion forward to the House. Continue reading

United States of America - Terrorist Attacks

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:21): I have had the oportunity while in the chair, and sometimes in my office, to follow the contributions of some of my colleagues in this response. It has been a moving experience. Nobody listening to all those contributions could doubt the great sincerity and humanity of our colleagues in this place, which I think is something we sometimes lose sight of. I am pleased to be able to join in that and to acknowledge the member for Menzies, who preceded me. It is not by design, but I want to acknowledge that I am making my contribution to the response to the statements by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on this day, which is UNInternational Day of Democracy. I think it is important that we all take time to celebrate and commit to the expansion, flourishing and protection of democracy across the world. It is particularly pertinent to the challenges that face us post-September 11. No doubt those who instigated these acts sought to undermine the great values of the Free World. I welcome, therefore, the opportunity to speak on this important motion which commemorates that fateful day in September 2001. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Anti-Dumping Reforms

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information. Will the minister update the House on the progress of the government's anti-dumping reforms in supporting Australian industry? What other proposals have been put forward and what is the government's response? Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (Gorton—Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice) (14:55): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question. She is a true advocate and champion for manufacturing workers in this country, and I can assure her that the government is working to keep our economy strong by making sure that Australian manufacturers are supported from unfair trading practices such as dumping. Continue reading

Broadening the debate

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:16): I appreciate the opportunity to make a more extensive contribution to the debate than that which I was able to do in presenting the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communication entitled Broadening the debate: inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network . I acknowledge the member for Bradfield's contribution, addressing the dissenting report. Personally, I think it is a pretty sad dissenting report that will not stand the test of time. I think if those who submitted the report were standing here 20 years ago, they would be saying, 'Who needs 512k speeds? What would you use that for? You could pick up the phone. Why would you send an email?' That would have been the whole context of their contributions to the debate. And the member for Bradfield, as much as anybody, knows the speed and rapidity with which people take up technological developments when the infrastructure is available. So in 20 years time, when his son or daughter is reading in Hansard his contribution on this debate, I suggest they will be saying, 'Dad, what on earth were you thinking? How limited was your imagination in looking at what that technology would deliver to this nation?' I merely say to those who are looking at the dissenting report that it is a valiant effort to maintain the political debate on this issue, but I am sure those who have signed it will be hoping that it gets buried in the dust of time and that generations that follow them never look at it and see what they actually had to say about fast, ubiquitous and symmetrical broadband extension in this country. Continue reading

Clean Energy Bills 2011

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (09:53): I rise to support the bills before the House today. I have watched some of the discussion and debate as it has progressed so far through the House, when I have been able to, and I just want to make the point that when the opposition outline their concerns about these bills—why they will oppose them and their worries about the impacts on prices for families, small businesses and so forth—I am yet to hear any analysis of their own policy and the impacts that that will have on prices and the cost of living for families, small businesses and all these people they claim to be so concerned about. There has been absolutely no reference to that that I have seen in any of the contributions from those opposite. It is as if their own policy does not exist, 'Let's not mention it—maybe nobody will notice that we actually have a policy that will have a far greater impact on the cost of living for families, pensioners and small businesses'. Indeed, I would suggest to many of those listening to the debate that they have a look at the opposition leader's contribution, which I think had about one minute at the end of his entire contribution that addressed his own policy but which, of course, did not outline what the costs of that would be for all the people they purport to be so concerned about. I reject the basis of their argument to start with; it is quite clear that the impacts of our proposed scheme will actually be significantly smaller, for example, than the introduction of the GST was. We do not hear them talk about the GST impacts and the flow-through in the economy either—strangely enough in this debate. Continue reading

Advisory Report on the Navigation Amendement Bill 2011

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:48): On behalf of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communication, I present the committee's report entitled Advisory report on the Navigation Amendment Bill 2011, together with minutes of the proceedings. In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper. Ms BIRD: by leave—The Navigation Amendment Bill 2011 was referred to the committee by the House Selection Committee. The committee sought submissions from interested parties and held a public hearing to further investigate the bill. The bill seeks to amendment the Navigation Act to bring Australia in line with the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention. As a proposed treaty action, the MLC is being considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. As part of that inquiry process, the JSCOT heard from various interested parties, including those who were involved in treaty negotiations and who were supportive of Australia's agreement to the treaty, including the development of enabling legislation. The committee heard that those parties, including the Australian Shipowners Association and the Maritime Union of Australia, continue to support the passage of the bill. It also noted that some of the elements of the MLC will be brought into effect through regulations which were not available at the time of the bill's introduction, but the committee has recommended that the Navigation Amendment Bill be passed.