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.

The Leader of the Opposition took the opportunity to come to the Illawarra, go to the steelworks and make a big song and dance about the carbon price. I very much doubt that he will be back to explain to them  why he led his party in voting against the bill that was before the House today. In fact, the bill was put separately and those opposite could have supported it if they had wanted to but still chose not to do so. In my region we are always at the forefront of innovating our industries for the future. The steel industry is an important part of the story of developing the new technologies that will be needed for a cleaner energy future. We understand that and we are working to support the steel industry. We also understand that other manufacturers—for example, David Brown Gears in my area have recently got contracts to do gear work for wind farms—see the opportunities that will develop from a greener energy future. It is important for the long-term future of this country that we begin to take up the opportunities that are on offer and position ourselves for the jobs in a cleaner energy future. Those opposite got this not so long ago. In every one of their contributions to this debate they want to ignore the fact that until the change of leadership on their side they backed taking action on climate change—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: No, we did not.

Ms BIRD: through a market mechanism. The one thing that they have perfected in this debate is the rewriting of their own history. In every contribution that they make they want to pretend that this action is something they have never agreed with.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Murphy ): The member for Mackellar will cease interjecting!

Ms BIRD: Sadly for them, that is not the evidence of their own cabinet when they were in government, as has been outlined by many in this debate. Their own cabinet in government, of which the current Leader of the Opposition was a member, supported bills, actions and policies to put a price on carbon and to introduce a market based system to put that price in place. Now, of course, they want to rewrite history. At that point in time they were not saying it was a devastating outcome for jobs. What they were saying was that it was an important new opportunity for us as a nation to move into a greener future and to find the jobs of the future.

So all the crocodile tears that we hear now, which are never backed up by action to support jobs such as voting in support of the Steel Transformation Plan, are absolutely contradictory to the record of their own party and their own decisions and, indeed, their own government when they were in government in this country. I am very disappointed that my colleague the member for Gilmore and, no doubt, the senator in the other place will not vote in support of local jobs in the Illawarra. It is a real shame that they cannot look beyond their own political message and support local jobs. I express my support in the belief that this will create opportunities as well for jobs in my regions and, more broadly, across the nation. (Time expired)