Senate debates

Monday, 13 February 2017


Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire) Bill 2016; Second Reading

9:36 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

As a servant of the people of Queensland and Australia I want to lay bare this window-dressing. The more we tax and regulate things the less we actually get of them. Someone has to pay a tax for this subsidy to work. I can speak on the benefits of an internship to my own son when he was 21 years of age. He took the initiative to get an internship in the United States in a field in which he had done some study but had not actually worked. Because of that six months of study and the success that he gave that company a few months later they offered him a full-time job at a very good salary for someone with his qualifications. So, I get the concept of an internship. But what we need to understand here is that this is simply a subsidy to make work, and not a fulfilling job. My son Shane had a very fulfilling job and he went to work and did real work every day. Taxation, though, is killing employment in this country. So let's get away from the window-dressing and get to the core issues that we face.

Our constituents in Queensland and across Australia repeat this same comment: taxation is killing employment. Why do we tax payroll? We all know in this country that when we tax something we decrease its use. So why are we taxing payroll? It is bizarre. I had a meeting with Dave Oliver, the head of the ACTU, who seems like a nice bloke. We went round the room talking and I asked him what his main themes were and he talked about compliance and raising wages. I asked him in all sincerity if he was aware that when a person gets an increase in take-home pay it requires an even greater increase in gross pay and that, combined with regulations, is driving employment down. That is not to say that people do not deserve higher incomes, but they must be earned in a way that increases productivity. But the taxation system is killing productivity in this country. Every time Dave Oliver is successful in getting a gross pay raise it kills a job if there is not the matching productivity, and the taxation system makes it very difficult for people to be productive.

We have fine workers in this country. I know from my own experience being an underground coal miner and an open cut coal miner managing people in this country and overseas that our workers are among the best in the world. They are very committed, have a lot of initiative and take great pride in their work. But when taxation is killing their employer it is difficult to sustain work.

I am wondering what will be taxed next. PAYE tax is killing jobs and payroll tax is killing jobs. Will we tax the air that we breathe? Oh, I'm sorry, that's right: we are already taxing the air we breathe. The carbon dioxide in the air is being taxed, thanks to the Liberal/National coalition putting in place an emissions trading scheme by name. To those who deny its existence, if it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and looks like a duck, it is a duck. There is an emissions trading scheme in place in this country now. It started on 1 July last year.

At this time in Australia we are facing increasing competition from the United States. President Trump is going to cut tax. He is not just going to fiddle with it; he is going to cut company and personal taxes dramatically. Then we have the other side of the issue, and that is the waste of taxpayer funds. Here we are going to have a subsidy that is going to require more taxpayer funds, and that will increase taxes or cut back other services. How many jobs will be destroyed in this country to pay for this window-dressing?

Moving from the complexity of our taxation system, let's look at the complexity of our regulatory system. Again, we all know that the more we regulate things the less you get of them. We have red tape—the bureaucracy. Everyone is familiar with that. It is choking our industry and choking our employment. Then we have green tape—pseudo-environmentalism gone mad. And, yes, we see people agreeing and almost everyone understands what green tape does: pseudo-environmentalism and fancy campaigns dressed up—they are just political games.

Then, we have another colour emerging in this country. It actually has been underway for 20 years or more: blue tape. Blue tape is the bureaucracy that has been brought in by the UN. We have the UN pushing biodiversity, in which fungus, plants, critters, bunks and animals are treated as superior to humans and given priority to humans. And in the name of biodiversity farmers and coastal residents have their land and property rights stolen. That is a cost to industry. Just ask the farmers of Queensland who have had their farmers' property rights stolen. Then we have another form of blue tape from the UN: sustainability. The funny thing is that according to the UN their sustainability programs are sustainable only with subsidies, meaning they are not sustainable. That is how they get in place regulations to take control of people's lives: where we can live, what we can do, what we cannot do, how we can travel, how we can eat—almost everything is in their sights. Then we have the UN's climate change claims, never based on empirical evidence. The UN's latest report contains, just as the previous reports contained, one core chapter claiming warming and attributing it to human production of carbon dioxide. Nowhere in that chapter is there any empirical evidence that human sourced carbon dioxide affects the climate and needs to be cut. Nowhere in its key chapter is there any evidence—no evidence anywhere in their reports—and yet all the groups in this parliament have swallowed that myth. The RET is based on that myth—killing industry and killing jobs. More window-dressing so as to appear to be doing the right thing by our planet when it is actually harming the environment, harming the creation of jobs and harming people's lifestyles. Again, tens of billions of dollars have been wasted on window-dressing and people in this Senate know when I am looking at them that there is no evidence to support it. This window-dressing then creates pretend jobs.

Let's get back to basics. Let's look at our immigration quantity and cut it back so that we can increase employment through real jobs. We have people who are under-working—they are working for one hour a week and they are treated as employed. Then we have the issue of immigration, in terms of the quality—look at the 457 visas that are stealing people's jobs. Farmers across rural south-west Queensland, where I listened to people just a few weeks ago, see unemployed people in their regional towns and yet cannot get labourers—they cannot get workers. Worse, due to the taxation system and due to the regulations, mums and dads have to be the entire workforce for their farms. There is a massive investment in capital at risk in a variable market with variable weather and they have to do all the work. They cannot afford to hire anyone because of the regulations. People would love to hire people, but it just becomes too onerous with the regulations and too expensive with the taxation. And we are going to have a lot more to say about this in Pauline Hanson's One Nation as we march towards a Queensland election. Again, farmers are being hurt by window-dressing. All taxpayers are being hurt by window-dressing.

In this specific bill, where is the value for money? We have an apprenticeship scheme, which the leader of our party, Senator Hanson, will be discussing in more detail. But I ask now: where is the cost-benefit analysis for this bill? Why does the government expect us to merely pass this bill when it has given us no cost-benefit analysis, no financial and economic analysis, no financial and economic justification and not even some qualitative justification? We cannot even understand the thinking that goes on. How can they possibly convince people and sell people on this when there is no salesmanship going on? Where is the accountability that comes from having a cost-benefit analysis that not only justifies expenditure but then enables something to be measured against it? The government has rarely given any cost-benefit analysis, and yet that is its fundamental responsibility. The people in the Labor Party and the Labor Party and Greens coalition were even worse at this—again, window-dressing and no cost-benefit analysis. We need to stand up for taxpayers in this country, and that is what we are doing. We are calling out the government and the opposition parties for putting our country, after seven decades, in a deplorable position—more window-dressing. That is what we see: decades of window-dressing.

And then we come across the ultimate window-dressing. I touched on it a minute ago. We are wrecking energy in this country. We are wrecking the energy industry and that is wrecking all industries—service industries, manufacturing industries, rural industries and mining industries. On an app we can get the cost of electricity on any one day at any one time. Today we have Queensland, the state with the best quality coal reserves in the world, abundant quantities of coal, and it has an electricity price of $13,000 per megawatt hour. That is mimicking South Australia. And while we are doing that we sending electricity south to New South Wales because the pseudo-markets that have been created by both sides of politics in this country are destroying and enabling people to game the system. South Australia is being destroyed. Manufacturing is being decimated in that state. Victoria is about to shut down 20 per cent of its electricity supply. What will happen then to South Australia? What will happen then to Victoria when they come looking for power from New South Wales and Queensland? Our prices will go up in Queensland. It is a disaster and it is making employment highly expensive and unreliable and making industry unreliable. Why? Because we have subsidies piled on regulations piled on pseudo-markets piled on vested interests piled on renewable energy targets piled on renewable subsidies piled on political interference—destruction, destruction, destruction.

And this is a reversal of history, the secret to lifting billions. It has never happened before in the history of humanity. Billions of people have been lifted out of poverty by cheap energy. It started 167 years ago with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and the key to that was hydrocarbon fuels: coal and later oil. They provided high-quality and high-energy-density fuels that dropped the price of energy. That dramatically increased productivity, and that dramatically increased prosperity. And from that came the protection of the environment. The whales, instead of being chased to provide lighting fuel, are now secure because we have coal to provide lights. We do not have to burn the timber in the forests, because we now use coal. We now have 30 per cent more forestry area in every major developed continent, thanks to coal and oil.

We need to go back to Sir Joh's days, when energy was amongst the cheapest in the world, when business flourished and employment flourished. Instead, we get the coalition government giving us window-dressing. There is no cost-benefit analysis, no accountability and no value for money—yet another churn with the money going from the right pocket of the taxpayer into the left pocket of the taxpayer, and we have increasing underemployment. It all comes back to tax. Instead of window-dressing, let's get down to the root cause of what is keeping people out of work long-term. Let's fix the tax system. We do not support this bill.


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