Wednesday, 19 June 2013
I rise tonight to table a petition as a document. This petition has 2,000 signatures on it, from people in Portland and the area around Portland. That is a significant number of signatures—2,000—given the population of Portland is around the 9,000 mark, so we have almost one-fifth of the citizens in the broader Portland area who have put their signatures to this important petition. What they are calling for is some action on the decline in manufacturing. Portland is home to some wonderful productive enterprises. Alcoa has Portland Aluminium and the smelter there contributes, along with Point Henry, as either Victoria's first or second biggest exporter as that often depends on where the dollar is at. It is one of Victoria's top two exporters, so that being both Alcoa Point Henry and Portland Aluminium. It is also home to Keppel Prince, a manufacturer of things and it also helps to service Portland Aluminium. Also it is producing not the turbines but—and I am having a complete mental blank.
Not the casings; they produce the towers. It is funny because I was there last Friday with the shadow minister for industry, Sophie Mirabella, and I will take this opportunity to thank her for coming along for that visit. The people are concerned about what is happening to manufacturing not only in Portland but in Australia as a whole, because what we are seeing is our cost base continuing to rise and we are not competitive now with imports. In many cases what we are seeing is imports coming in at below cost and this is doing serious damage to our local manufacturing industries. So these signatories to this petition would like this issue addressed.
As we have seen, the coalition has led the way in this area by proposing changes to the way our anti-dumping regime works and by putting forward a policy very early on in the term of this government. I must say it was pleasing to see that the government actually saw that the coalition had put forward a very good policy proposal in this area and it led the government to say, 'Okay, we're prepared to act and do something about this.' And that is exactly what the government did.
Now what we need to see is further action to make sure that these new anti-dumping processes do in fact do the job that they are set out to do. That is what this petition is calling for. The petition deals with the anti-dumping area and that is an area which both sides of this House have looked to act upon. But I would also say that one of the areas that from a coalition perspective—and this was very much a non-political petition so it was across the board—also need to be addressed is the need to really look at what is adding to the uncompetitiveness of our manufacturing at the moment, and there is no question that the carbon tax is one of those things which are making us more uncompetitive. One only has to look at dairy processing to see this. We are about to see the carbon tax bill of Murray Goulburn, one of the largest dairy processors in my electorate, go from $14 million per annum currently to nearly $15 million per annum when we see the five per cent increase of the carbon tax kick in come 1 July. So I commend this petition to the House. I thank those 2,000 people who have put their name and signature to it for showing their concern and their passion for Australian manufacturing.