House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill 2022; Third Reading

10:55 am

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Women) Share this | Hansard source

The minister has come to the dispatch box paper free, and I note that because it may not be well known that he uses foreign paper in his office. Here, on Australian made paper, I'm very happy to respond and make the point that his briefs are not worth the paper they're printed on.

Now, I note the amendments moved by honourable members. The coalition has indicated from the outset of this flawed bill that we will move and consider amendments in the Senate, because this is a bad bill that has been rushed. Parliamentary scrutiny has been sidestepped. Industry consultation has been all show and no substance. Let me tell you about the industry consultation process. It's been so farcical that the government would have you believe that, in just a few business days, after a receiving close to 200 submissions, they earnestly reviewed all of this important feedback. Indeed, the minister began debate on this bill before the Senate inquiry process had even held its hearings. It's clear the only consultation that matters to this government, the only interests they're seeking to represent, are those of their union paymasters.

The minister consulted just seven organisations prior to rushing this bill through the House. The Australian Council of Trade Unions topped the list. There was Industry Super Australia, chaired by Labor powerbroker Greg Combet, and the Australian Banking Association, run by yet another Labor powerbroker, Anna Bligh. There was the Law Council of Australia. I mean no disrespect, but what would they know about the challenges our manufacturers face? There was also the Australian Investment Council and their own department's statutory board. There was not a single manufacturer—not one.

The lack of consultation for a bill that's being rushed through in this manner and that is responsible for $15 billion of taxpayers' funds is beyond negligent. In fact, when asked at Senate estimates whether any modelling was undertaken as to the inflationary impact of the National Reconstruction Fund, the response was staggering: 'No, we haven't. It wasn't necessary.' Can you believe that? I've been in this place for more than 21 years, and in all that time I struggle to recollect such an egregious affront to the Australian taxpayer.

Today we've also seen the government selling out our manufacturers for a cheap deal with the Greens which prohibits investment in coal, gas and native forestry. As Australian households and small businesses are facing soaring energy prices right here, right now, Labor seems determined to make it worse, with Anthony Albanese caving in to the Greens and selling Australian manufacturing up the creek. Every expert in this country is calling on the Prime Minister to unlock more supplies of gas, but today's awful deal with the Greens is another demonstration that this government is utterly unable to deliver policies that will produce affordable and reliable energy. The industry minister always claims to acknowledge the importance of gas as a transition fuel, but today he's actually preventing investment in this critical area of our manufacturing policy and our manufacturing sovereignty.

This is a bad bill that has become even worse. We will fight Labor's recklessness all the way to the Senate, then to the election and beyond, because the resources industry is the only industry singled out for prohibition in this fund. It's a damning indictment on the priorities of this bad Labor government. On this side of the House, we know that a gas led transition is critical. Once again, this government breaks its promise. Once again, it demonises gas. It's another broken promise. It's another in the long list of people who are being left behind by a government and a prime minister who said they would leave no-one behind. Instead, they are leaving everyone behind, including our hardworking manufacturers. This dodgy, desperate deal sees the government's signature manufacturing policy take one giant step backwards. These concerns, as well as a raft of others in this flawed bill, were captured in the Senate inquiry process. I do acknowledge the good faith in which the Independents have heard our concerns with this bad bill. The coalition does look forward to considering the report from the Senate committee, and we will be moving amendments in the Senate.


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