24 March 2015

Speech in Parliament: Federal Government’s commitment to science and research

I rise to speak on this motion put forward by the Member for Makin, and I have to say that it is disappointing to hear from the Member for Makin so many spurious, inflammatory, irresponsible and, frankly, false claims.

I often despair at the way in which politicians are perceived in our community.

I know for myself as a new member, I do try very hard to play a straight bat and tell it as it is.

I have to say that when, and I would never say this about members opposite, because I know it to be false.

So when the Member for Makin says that our government does not value scientists or researchers, it is that sort of rhetoric that is just disappointing.

It is clearly ridiculous and, more so, it is disappointing because I do think we need to see a higher level of debate.

I do agree with the Member for Makin, who asserts that there are huge opportunities to create new, advanced manufacturing jobs in industries with the right government support for our science, research and manufacturing sectors.

We agree wholeheartedly, and that is why we are providing such strong support for these areas.

I want to put on the record that in 2014-15 the government is providing $9.2 billion in support of science, research and innovation.

Support for science and research in the industry portfolio will total $5.8 billion over four years. This includes more than $3 billion for the CSIRO.

There are some savings being made at science agencies, just like other government entities.

The reality is that members opposite have left us with no alternative: Labor’s legacy to the people of Australia was, of course, gross debt projected to rise to $667 billion and $123 billion in cumulative deficits.
The efficiency dividend increases from 1 July 2014 from 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent apply to all agencies subject to the efficiency dividend.

It only applies to a percentage of the budget funding for AMES, CSIRO and ANSTO, representing their corporate component.

In addressing some of the false and inflammatory claims that have been made in this debate, I do want to reflect on my own electorate of Corangamite and look at what happened with Ford.

Ford, of course, ended its manufacturing under the previous Labor government, and Labor often forgets to remind the people of Corangamite about that.

In January 2012, the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, came to Geelong and announced $34 million for Ford and then, some six months later, after promising that this would lead to 300 new jobs, we saw a loss of 330 jobs.

The fact of the matter is that Holden, Toyota and Ford left of their own volition, and the fact of the matter is that we have had very, very strong support for the auto sector.

If you look at Labor’s record, Labor promised $6.2 billion in funding for the auto sector over 13 years, and yet, in 2011, reneged on three separate programs: the ‘cash for clunkers’ program, wasn’t that a great success, it absolutely crashed; the Green Car Innovation Fund, the LPG Vehicle Scheme to encourage the uptake of LPG; and then, to cap it off, we saw, from members opposite when they were in government, how they slugged the car industry, or attempted to, with $840 million in carbon taxes over a decade and $1.8 billion in FBT changes.

So what we are doing is, we are confronting the big challenge for jobs of the future.

That is why we are rolling out our growth fund, a $155 million growth fund, $30 million for skills and training, a $15 million boost to the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program, $20 million for the Auto Diversification Program, a $60 million Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Program.

And one of the recipients of a grant under that program is IXL Backwell just announced in Geelong, a great local manufacturer in Geelong, last week.

So our government has very strong support for science, for research and for innovation.

We have a strong focus on investing in these industries, building the jobs for the future and not throwing the Band-Aid solutions that we saw under the Labor Party.

24 March 2015