I have some comments to make on clause 1. Firstly, can I just say how disappointed I am, not so much with the government because I would not expect anything less than the way they have pulled this on, but with my crossbench colleagues for basically guillotining our opportunity to make second reading contributions. It is almost unprecedented. Last night I was actually in shock. Given that the indication this week was that this bill had to be passed by the end of the week and our commitment was to fall into line with that, to have my crossbench colleagues deny me the right of a proper second reading contribution is something that I will remember for some period of time. For the life of me, I do not understand why you would taint yourself with that sort of behaviour. It is not Legislative Council like.
My comments and questions are: a number of my colleagues make great play out of being concerned about taxation rates in this state, and rightly so, and yet with one foul swoop are quite prepared to add millions to the expenditure of this government with, I think, very little consideration. What makes me even angrier is how, with one foul swoop, industries that are at risk, and I believe are still at risk, have also had extra costs and imposts imposed upon them. Members would not be surprised to know that I still take a very keen interest in the city of Whyalla and the company OneSteel, which drives Whyalla.
The federal government, on the one hand, has imposed a ridiculous carbon tax, and on the other hand, thank God, has seen fit to provide a training grant (not a subsidy) of almost $60 million to that particular company, I believe to keep it in the game of making steel. That is incredibly important to the city of Whyalla and, I think, incredibly important to Australia, because I cannot imagine this great country not having a steelmaking capability. I cannot believe that any government of any persuasion would allow this country not to have a steelmaking capability.
So, with one foul swoop we have decided that we are going to add an extra cost to the steelmaking industry in Whyalla. Yes, congratulations to the steelworkers who are going to get penalty rates for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I believe Whyalla people understand how important it is to have that steelmaking facility continue. Yes, there is much play and talk about the mining industry out of Whyalla, which has been welcome, but the big employer is the steelmaking industry. One of my questions to the minister will be: what cost has just been lumped upon OneSteel in Whyalla? How will that ensure that the steelmaking industry in Whyalla will continue? How does that ensure that we continue to have steelmaking capability in Australia? I am very concerned about OneSteel in Whyalla.
My colleague, the Hon. Michelle Lensink, has already touched on the aged care industry, so I will not continue with that, but I think it has been a disgraceful decision to impose extra costs on an industry that supposedly we all care about, the care of our aged. The current Premier and the federal government have recently assisted Holden with a handout to keep them in South Australia and Australia. So, on the one hand we recognise the vulnerability of the car industry and on the other hand we decide: ‘Let’s just add costs to that industry.’ Congratulations. ‘Let’s have another 10 hours of penalty rates.’ That is because we are so driven with commercial thinking in this parliament. Congratulations.
I was on the West Coast, on Eyre Peninsula, last week and I talked to a number of people about the impacts of marine parks, about the propositions that have been put, about how it actually affects them, and I inspected sites that have been talked about. I spoke to a number of country hoteliers who cannot believe that this parliament could, in what are difficult times, pass further imposts upon their businesses.
I was in Streaky Bay talking to a publican there, who is dramatically considering what he is going to do with regard to his business on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It is a one-hotel town, and it is a fantastic community; they do not have the option, if he decides to close his business, to go round the corner or down the street or meet their friends at another facility, because there isn’t one. Given his past patronage on those nights—certainly on Christmas Eve—he is considering how he can make the business function on that particular evening without losing quite a bit of money. So he passes on his thanks—not—to those of you who decided that this is a wonderful piece of legislation.
We have missed the point in this parliament. We are in difficult economic times; business is doing it tough. I guess this piece of legislation separates the Labor Party and its cohorts and the Liberal Party, which understands that someone has to pay. Socialists are fantastic at spending other people’s money. Good on you. Eventually that runs out, and then conservatives come and have to find a way to make the books balance. That will be our job at some stage; we will have to come in and pick up the mess.
So for those of you who are traditional socialists: congratulations, it looks like you are going to have a win on this. For those of us who understand that it is business that drives economies, that economies look after those who cannot look after themselves, that strong economies are really important, I am just mystified as to how those on the government benches and those who are supporting them think we are going to pay.
I can probably have a guess; it will be more taxes, a higher taxation regime. To those industries that are at risk, to those hoteliers and restaurants who are struggling, I hope they will remember those who have taken these actions to make their lives even more difficult.