Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Albanese Government

5:06 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, the Prime Minister is certainly too busy worrying about the Voice and crossing the Harbour Bridge at a pride event. He's not doing any work on how he's going to make Australians' lives easier. Before the election, Mr Albanese told us we would have cheaper mortgages. I can absolutely tell you that since May last year my mortgage is definitely not cheaper. In fact, I've had nothing but mortgage rate increases since then. It is definitely not cheaper.

We did say it wouldn't be easy under Albanese, and it's certainly getting harder for retirees. I don't know why you don't like retirees. I know you don't like self-managed ones, because they actually manage to work for themselves, to contribute to the Australian economy, and to provide most of the jobs that everyday Australians have, which are in small business. They are the backbone of our economy. But, because they're not in a super fund with you're union buddies, you're going to do anything you can to undermine them and destroy their retirements.

Do you remember that we were going to have no franking credits? We weren't talking about that. We weren't changing that. That was something that the member for McMahon floated in the last election. The member for Maribyrnong, who holds dear ambitions to be the Prime Minister, may still do so. He may have to compete with my local member, the member for Sydney, for that one. But remember that we're not touching franking credits. Minister Bowen told the electorate, 'If you don't like the policy, don't vote for us.' So they didn't. So what did you do this time? You just didn't tell them. You just lied. You said: 'We're not going to touch franking credits. There will be no changes to super.' It wasn't that you said there will be 'modest changes' to super; you said there will be 'no changes' to super.

Remember that there would be no industry-wide bargaining? 'It's not part of our policy.' That was another lie. You said, 'We're going to do our bit to assist with real wage increases.' What have we seen since you've come to government? Wages have in fact fallen at faster rates. Remember the promise, 'We're going to cut the cost of consultants and contractors'? That one didn't happen, because they realised there are a few former chiefs of staff who now work with big advisory and consulting firms, so they all had to be looked after.

These are all broken promises. You've been in for nine months, and you've managed to break almost every promise you made. Not only are your broken promises eroding the trust of the Australian electorate in democracy and political processes, but they reflect badly on everybody when you blatantly lie in this manner. The impacts of your decisions, the impacts of what you were doing, make a bad situation worse for every single family. If I hear once more that the Labor government is talking about boosting manufacturing, I can tell you that you talk out of both sides of your mouth. You want to boost manufacturing, but you also want a safeguard mechanism that will impact industries that will find it the hardest to abate. It would require some intellectual depth and some policy know-how to look at a broad range of industries and go: 'You know what? I saw a pharmaceutical company this week, and they have made great strides in getting to net zero. They're actually going to be ahead of it.' But the pharmaceutical industry is one of the easier industries for abatement, unlike the cement industry.

They going to kill off Australian jobs, they going to kill off Australian manufacturing because, if you look around this place, you'll see that it's pretty full of cement. Cement is in everything we do, but the one company that might actually survive is the one that now sends its limestone over to China, so that company has all the extra emissions from transporting the limestone to China. They make the clinker in China, the most intensive emissions part of the cement process, because it's less regulated and less controlled and there is less oversight in China. They then put the clinker on a ship and bring it back to Australia, again adding to the emissions. But because those opposite have no understanding of transference of emissions, they seem to think this is an Australia-only problem, that somehow Australia can fix the global emissions problem, global warming, climate change. They can fix all of these things by regulating our own activities and are willingness to cut off our nose to spite our face, tie one arm behind our back, kill our economy. But they do not understand emissions transference in what's happening. The fact is that these emissions are being created in China—and probably additional emissions from the transport—and companies are not going to meet the threshold in the safeguard mechanism because their emissions are happening overseas.

If the Greens are serious about this, they should start having a look at transparency because this is what companies are going to do. They're going to start sending jobs overseas, and they're going to go to countries that don't have the same regulations that we do. That means that not only are you going to have the increase in transport costs, but you're also going to have emissions being created in much less technologically advanced ways. Again, this would require some understanding of policy development and intellectual depth. No-one in the department could answer a question about a sea ban—no-one. The safeguard mechanism is designed with an arbitrary number—if you're at 99, you're exempt; if you're at 101, you're in. It is an arbitrary number for those companies that will find it the hardest to abate their emissions. That will destroy industries, destroy jobs, destroy families, destroy the regions. Maybe that's what you're going for, Chris. The way you're going with your renewable energy targets and everything around them, we're not going to have the energy and the power resources to keep anything going. Rolling blackouts will become the new norm in Australia. It's an absolute disgrace that somehow you are focused on taking this country so far backwards by destroying industries.

We are a resource-rich nation, and there is no excuse for this. We should be leading the way, but, no, those opposite cannot get out of their own way. Maybe they're a bit psychologically bruised from the 2019 campaign, so that they're rocking in the corner—I don't know. Pick yourselves up, guys, and realise that the decisions you make impact Australian families, and you shouldn't be breaking the promises you made to them before the election. If they're all so great, all so excellent and they're not coming into place until after the next election, take them to the next election. Put them in the budget papers, show us what the costs are going to be, explain in detail whether or not an unrealised asset will have to be sold because the tax bill's so high. Take them to an election, take them to the Australian electorate and say: 'Hey, we said no changes to franking credits, we said no changes to superannuation, but we're talking about modest ones now. On those franking credits, you can't pay a dividend if you're raising capital.' Explain them to the Australian people, take them to the next election. But you know what's going to happen because they're bad policies making bad situations for families, and you're attacking some of the people that have contributed the most to building up this country. You're destroying families and their dreams for a better future.


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