Monday, 14 July 2014
Trade Support Loans Bill 2014, Trade Support Loans (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014; Second Reading
Senator Cameron, we celebrate democracies across all nations. We acknowledge that there have been many dysfunctional regimes over many hundreds and even thousands of years. I like to treat everybody equally, but I also like to give people the opportunity to help themselves and not be helped incessantly by others to the point where society becomes dysfunctional because it becomes an expectation. You do not need to lecture me on the foibles of socialism, Senator Cameron, through you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I join with the French and the French Australians here today to celebrate their national day. Vive la France!
I rise today to speak on the Trade Support Loans Bill. I heard the last few minutes of the contribution made by Senator Brown. In her contribution, Senator Brown, indicated the Tools For Your Trade was started under the Howard government. That is quite right, but it was a voucher system. When Labor came into power—just like everything else—they turned it into cash-splash with relatively no accountability and no responsibility towards it. As a government, in the first nine months of our reign, we have sought, on the economics of this country, to implement these reforms in these very important trade areas, which will help our productivity grow, so we can reduce the trade deficit that we have with countries like France. We are half a billion dollars in deficit. We export somewhere in the vicinity of $600 million worth of goods to France. Yet, we import a bit over $1.1 billion worth of their goods. Anything we can do to make this country more productive and get it going after the sad six years of the Labor government, where we ground to a halt in a lot of these industrial areas, could only be seen as good.
We have heard many differing opinions this morning from the contributions made from the other side of the chamber on the Trade Support Loans Bill. However, I would like to correct a few of those opinions, particularly of Senator Carr and Senator Rhiannon, who join us in the chamber. The Tools For Your Trade payments failed. Under Labor's administration, this program had become unaccountable and out of hand. That did little to help apprentices complete their training because it was only given in the latter years rather than when apprentices needed it the most. Senator Rhiannon, who is in doubt as to the accountability of the program, will be reassured in the knowledge that this program will not only provide financial support to apprentices but also provide financial incentive for them to complete their qualifications.
Firstly, let me set the scene. I can only take it back to my own experience in South Australia, to the electorate of Wakefield—which is also the electorate I live in, one of the areas of high youth unemployment in this country—nearly 45 per cent.