Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Will the minister explain the challenge facing Australia's steel sector and the actions the government is taking to deal with those challenges? Is the minister aware of any threats to the progress being made?
I thank the member for Gilmore for her question. I know she is very interested in the future of the steel industry. The government recognises the importance of the steel industry to Australia's economy and, of course, to the manufacturing sector in general, and we are making the steps necessary to support Arrium's steelworkers to have a future in Whyalla but also all around Australia with the decisions we have been making. Seven thousand steelworkers who work for Arrium, spread all around Australia, will be benefiting from the government's decisive action to secure their future.
Not only have we brought forward 72,000 tonnes of steel for the Adelaide-Tarcoola rail line, which will be won by Arrium to supply; we brought it forward to 2016 from the early 2020s. We have announced 12 submarines, nine future frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels and Australian build in all of them using Australian steel, guaranteeing Australian jobs. And as the minister responsibility for antidumping, I have imposed up to 53 per cent duties on steel coming from Asia that is attempting to be dumped here, and injure Australia's businesses, or circumvention attempts that would get around the duties that we have imposed.
By contrast, Mr Speaker, we face a Labor Party that wants to bring back a carbon tax, which will hit Arrium and the steelworkers there just at the moment they are trying to get off the canvas. What could be more calculated to damage the steel industry in Australia than forcing up electricity prices by reintroducing a carbon tax? So we now know the choice that Labor has made. They have decided to go for the cafe latte set in the inner-city rather than support the workers in the Hunter Valley or in Whyalla or in Gilmore or in Port Kembla—all around Australia. They have chosen, instead of supporting jobs and growth, to pander to their particular minority interests through the reintroduction of the carbon tax that will damage the steel industry and cost jobs.
The problem with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Speaker, is he is very unreliable. On the one hand he says that he wants to govern like a union leader, and then he hits the Arrium steelworkers by reimposing a carbon tax. He says he wants to govern like a union leader, yet he takes away the penalty rates of the Cleanevent workers in exchange for membership lists and cash for his union. He says he wanted to support Kevin Rudd while he was supporting Julia Gillard, he then abandoned Julia Gillard to support Kevin Rudd.
The problem with this Leader of the Opposition is he is inconsistent. He is unreliable. He is so bad he shifted from South Melbourne to Collingwood in the AFL, Mr Speaker. He has never been able to keep a consistent line in his entire political career. (Time expired)
Ms MacTiernan interjecting—