Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Is the minister aware of the Fairfax-Nielsen poll published today that shows an overwhelming majority, 86 per cent, of Australians think that the government's top economic priority should be job creation not budget cuts? Do you have—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Thanks, Mr President. Senator Cormann, do you have any plan at all for employment opportunities as the mining boom in Western Australia cools? Will government senators from Western Australia be accepting the Greens' call for a by-election debate on jobs and the economy?
I thank Senator Ludlam for that question. I am pleased to advise Senator Ludlam and the Senate that this government can walk and chew gum at the same time. This is a government which has a plan to build a stronger economy and create more jobs at the same time as being focused on repairing the budget mess that we inherited from our predecessors. This is a government which will have to fix the mess we inherited from the Labor-Green administration of the past three years on so many levels. When Labor went into government in December 2007, unemployment in Western Australia was 3.3 per cent. Unemployment today after the Labor-Green mining tax and the Labor-Green carbon tax is 5.9 per cent.
Opposition senators interjecting—
The Labor-Green government in Canberra for the last six years tried to do to Western Australia what they had done to Tasmania for the last 16 years. Of course, this government here is totally committed to fixing the mess that the Labor Party and the Greens left to us. We will help Western Australia be more successful again by scrapping the mining tax, by scrapping the carbon tax and by cutting all the unnecessary red and green tape. Building a stronger economy will, among other things, generate more revenue for government, which—
Mr President, I rise on a point of order relating to relevance: I asked Senator Cormann very clearly whether he would debate the Greens and other candidates on jobs and the economy during the by-election. Is it a yes or no?
Senator Ludlam asked me about jobs in Western Australia. What I said to him is that this government will build a stronger economy and create more jobs, whereas Labor and the Greens hit Western Australia for a six, costing jobs in Western Australia every single year that they were in government together.
Mr President, I have a supplementary question. Minister, have you modelled the impact on job losses in Western Australia if you are successful in winding back the renewable energy target? Will you or will you not debate the Greens on your plan for jobs in WA during the Senate by-election campaign? It is a very simple question.
I again thank Senator Ludlam for that question. I can advise him and the Senate that there is a clear growth dividend that comes from scrapping the mining tax and scrapping the carbon tax. If Senator Ludlam is truly committed to stronger jobs growth in Western Australia, he will convince his colleagues in the Greens and his colleagues among their alliance partner, the Labor Party, to vote with the coalition to scrap the carbon tax and to scrap the mining tax today because that will help us grow a stronger economy in Western Australia, which will help drive stronger economic growth for Australia. It will help us generate more revenue for the Commonwealth because stronger mining companies will deliver increased company tax revenue to the Commonwealth, which will mean that we will be able to fund so many of the meritorious causes that, clearly, right now, are not able to be funded because Labor's mining tax was such a failure. (Time expired)
Thank you, President. Minister, when will you release your vision for Western Australian jobs? Will you debate it with the Greens during the by-election? And can you get through your answer without insulting our intelligence with three-word slogans?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Having listened to Senator Ludlam's question about the Greens' plans for more jobs, I guess that next we are going to have Senator Ludlam's plan for expanded uranium mining in Western Australia. The Greens are an anti-jobs party. The Greens are anti growth. The coalition will unlock Western Australia's great potential by reducing the tax burden, by reducing the regulatory burden, by providing more regulatory certainty, by investing in productivity-enhancing infrastructure, by making sure that we can get back to the global competitive edge and by making sure that businesses across Western Australia are able to compete with their competitors overseas. That will help strengthen the Western Australian economy, which will, in turn, help to strengthen the national economy. The Greens would not know about job creation if they fell over it. Everything the Greens have done in this chamber over the last six years, together with the Labor Party, was to attack jobs and to undermine growth. We are committed to turn that situation around. (Time expired)