Thursday, 15 September 2016
Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016; Second Reading
I will be brief. We heard Senator Sinodinos, the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, this afternoon referring to the fact that the government was not a one-night stand, that it was there for the long haul, that it was there to be in a lasting relationship. I was quite intrigued by that, because what it is going to do to ARENA is gut it. I will apply the analogy of the one-night stand to what the government has done in recent years to ARENA. They got engaged. The government promised to get married to ARENA and said they would last forever. Ever since, from the Abbott government onwards, the government has been trying to jilt the bride, leave her at the altar and gut ARENA. It has been dressed up, with the opposition, as a way, they say, to save ARENA. They have saved some of it but, down the track, the road has been taken to gut ARENA.
That is why later in the night I will be moving a motion to amend the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016. I support most of it, but, in this case, you have got jobs coming out of this. They keep talking about the future, about the innovative jobs that we are going to have under the Turnbull government: 'It's all going to be wonderful. Get into innovative stuff. Do all this; do all that—exciting times to be alive in Australia.' But what they could be doing, if they kept the money—all the money—in ARENA, and if they used that extra money, is to look at ways, when the automotive industry collapses and finally closes down in Australia, to divert that money towards retraining all those people in the automotive industry who need new jobs, like the subcontractors in the automotive industry who need new jobs. You could do stuff for them.
In South Australia, Senator Xenophon follows the same sort of line. But in Victoria, when they close down Fishermans Bend and Broadmeadows and Geelong—and the same in South Australia, with what happens in Elizabeth—if they could keep ARENA going and if they did not touch ARENA, some of that money could be used for the people who need new jobs. This may sound dramatic. And I am not a builder. But you could say: 'The guys who are building hubcaps and windscreen wipers and all those things for the car industry which will become obsolete could be doing jobs.' They could be switching them over and training them in small industries, new industries, and they could save thousands of jobs around Australia.
I think it is a canard—and I am sad that the Labor Party has done the same thing—that they have said, 'Wow, look what we've done! ARENA is not dead.' In recent weeks, we have had meetings with the ARENA people. We have met with people from CSIRO. All these people know what can happen. They know that, if ARENA is preserved and protected, you can find ways to keep these jobs going. It saddens me, and I think it is wrong—the way they have dressed it all up. Because this is a tangible thing. If only they had even had the decency to say, 'All right; we'll adapt ARENA. We'll leave the money but you've got to change it.' Just imagine if they do keep pushing, and the government funds its grants, and the grants become investments in sustainable jobs, and Australia takes equity in these jobs and these new inventions. And they will get some of it back, and they can make some money out of it.
So that is all I want to say tonight. I do not want to take up very much time at all. I just want to say that I will be hoping—through amendments, and through other ones put up by the Greens and, I think, by Senator Xenophon—that we will be able to save ARENA and say, 'Okay, you've got most of your stuff through in the budget from the lower house, but leave this alone because it's a worthwhile project.'