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

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

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.

Matter of Public Importance - Carbon Pricing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:24): I rise to participate in this matter of public importance debate in this House on manufacturing and its future. I am joined in the House by my colleague the member for Throsby. Members of the House would be aware that we took the opportunity in this chamber to put on the record the events that happened in our region yesterday with the BlueScope Steel announcement and our direct and real concern for the families that have been affected by that decision. We are determined to stand with them in providing the support that the government is able to provide to them and more broadly in providing support to BlueScope as a continuing steel manufacturer in our region. We will continue the work that we have already begun on providing opportunities for support and expansion of the manufacturing sector in our region. It is important and a good opportunity to take those comments made yesterday further in addressing this particular debate before the House today. It is a sad pity and in many ways a fairly disgraceful pity that those opposite are seeking to use what is a difficult time for those families in our region and for our region as a whole as a political point-scoring exercise around the carbon tax issue when it has been made quite clear on numerous occasions by BlueScope Steel executives that the carbon tax had no impact on the outcome that was announced yesterday. The executives made that point at the time when we announced the Clean Energy Future package. 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

Steel Industry

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (22:05): Earlier today BlueScope Steel announced to the Australian Stock Exchange that its board had approved a major restructure of its steel-producing operations at Port Kembla and Western Port. Eight hundred jobs will be lost at Port Kembla and a further 200 will be lost at Western Port. Steel production at the Port Kembla works, which is located within my electorate of Cunningham, will be halved to 2.6 million tonnes. A number of other divisions will be closed down. The No. 6 blast furnace will be mothballed. The decision by BlueScope Steel's board this morning is from a commercial decision-making process. The company's statement to the ASX indicates quite clearly that the company is experiencing 'structural change in the global steel industry' and an 'unprecedented combination of economic challenges' including 'a record high Australian dollar, high raw material costs, low prices for steel' and 'low domestic steel demand' in the wake of the global financial crisis. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Manufacturing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:36): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the important measures that have been announced to support steel manufacturing in Australia? Honourable members interjecting — The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat. The question has been asked. The Treasurer has the call. He will be heard in silence. Mr SWAN (Lilley—Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:36): I thank the member for Cunningham for that very important question, and I know she will be working very hard with locals who have been affected by this decision which has been announced today, because this House does understand, I believe, just how significant an announcement this is and what a blow it is to affected workers, their families and their communities. There is no question that this government is committed to a very strong manufacturing sector for our country, and a critical part of a strong manufacturing sector is, of course, a strong steel industry. The steel industry faces a number of challenges: rising input prices, excess global supply, weak domestic demand and, of course, a higher dollar. A higher dollar certainly delivers cheaper prices to many consumers, but it also means that more of our manufacturers are under pressure. Sadly, we are seeing the consequences of that today. Continue reading