House debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Questions without Notice

Australian Bushfires

2:44 pm

Photo of Mike KellyMike Kelly (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister advise the House how many loans to businesses impacted by the fires nationwide have been approved?

2:45 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

As I advised the House only a few days ago, I think, in response to one of the questions that may have been raised directly by the member, the loans program has only recently opened. It was opened, I understand, on 3 February 2020, and 232 applications have been received under the review since that time. They are currently being assessed by the New South Wales government. They haven't approved any at this point; it's only been going since 3 February. In Queensland, concessional loans also opened on 3 February, and there have been two applications received and one has been approved. In South Australia, they have approved the scheme and 60 EOIs have been received. Guidelines are currently being considered by the Victorian government, who have not put in place the assessment processes at this point to provide those loan arrangements. I can confirm that, in the member's home state, 232 applications have been made to access those loans.

2:46 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is backing industry to harness and develop technology to create jobs and make our economy stronger? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question, and I note that she is a highly qualified medical professional. She is one of my Women in STEM colleagues on this side of the House, and she—along with all of the members on this side of the House—knows that science and technology are the greatest tools that we have to tackle the challenges that we are facing now and into the future. Importantly, they are tools that we can use to enhance our economy, grow our economy and create more jobs. There's enormous opportunity for Australia to punch well above its weight on the international stage. Whether it is with low-emission technologies, the digital economy, AI, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing processes or the space sector, our government knows that the way forward is through technology and innovation.

'Technology' is a very broad term but, essentially, you can categorise it as using scientific knowledge for practical purposes. So it's about developing new and better ways of doing things. That's very different to those opposite, who really only have the one, same old way to deal with issues, and that of course is higher taxes. Labor has really never encountered a challenge that it did not try to solve with higher taxes. That's entirely different to what we try to do here. It's very clear that they are a taxing opposition. They took to the last election $387 billion in higher taxes. In fact, they have taken higher taxes to the last four elections. So they are a pretty unimaginative bunch when you think about it. There's not a lot of innovation happening on that side of the House. It is just tax, tax and tax again and again. We on this side of the House are about technology. We're not about taxes. We are about using technology to solve problems—not dipping into the pay packets of hardworking Australians.

We are using technology in multiple ways. For example, last weekend we invested $20 million for plastics recycling. That includes a plant in Victoria that will be turning hazardous building waste into recycled shoes and new building products. So we're using technology, not taxes. Importantly, by doing this, we are creating the jobs of the future. In fact, nine jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that we recycle. Given that there's around 30 million tonnes of waste that we are yet to recycle each year, the opportunity for job creation is huge. (Time expired)