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) (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.

Tabling - Broadening the Debate

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:30): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications I present the committee’s report entitled Broadening the d ebate: i nquiry into the r ole and p otential of the National Broadband Network, incorporating a dissenting report, together with the minutes of proceedings. In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper. Ms BIRD: by leave—This inquiry was referred to our committee on 16 November 2010 by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP. We received 252 submissions, including 17 supplementary submissions and 42 exhibits. These submissions canvassed a range of topics related to the potential impact of the NBN, including across government services, health, education, infrastructure, research, and community and social issues. The contributions were received from government agencies, some local councils, regional representative bodies, the higher education sector, the school sector, the business sector and private individuals—a broad cross-section of community and our economy was encompassed. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Carbon Pricing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:09): My question is to the.Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Why is it important to access the least cost abatement.and link with international carbon markets as part of.the government's plan to transform the economy to a.clean energy future? How has this been received? What.is the government's response?. Mr COMBET (Charlton—Minister for Climate.Change and Energy Efficiency) (15:10): I thank.the member for Cunningham for her question. As.we know, climate change is a global problem, an.international problem, and any solution to climate.change is going to have to involve coordination.and cooperation within the international community. There is, after all, only one atmosphere and a.reduction in pollution anywhere in the world has.the same environmental benefit. The most practical.way that nations can cooperate to tackle climate.change is through the development of credible.international carbon markets, because through these.markets countries can take advantage of the lowest.cost pollution cuts that are available. That is what the.government's carbon price mechanism will achieve. Continue reading