The era of vocal minorities must
end, so must the waste of taxpayers' precious money on policing these often
neurotic protests which are unproductive and choking the Australian economy.
It is worth repeating that this bill will protect Australian
jobs, something which is in this government's DNA. This bill should make a
substantial saving in reduced litigation and increased investment security for
business, something which those opposite will never understand and is more the
pity. The previous Labor government, as we all know, left us a legacy of gross
debt which is projected to rise to $660 billion. Suffice to say, those opposite
have been financially reckless and have no idea when it comes to managing the
country's finances. Debt and poor financial management are in Labor's DNA.
Section 487 of the EPBC Act is currently a welcome mat for
radical activists who have a political, not a legal, interest in development to
use aggressive litigation tactics to interrupt vital job-creating projects.
These radicals are impacting on the country's economic growth and our jobs—jobs
for young Australians, jobs for older Australians. I call on the Labor Party to
leave the politics at the door and join the government in protecting Australian
jobs. Let us see whether Labor are as committed to Australian jobs as they say
or whether they will buddy up once again with the Greens.
Importantly, the proposed amendment will not affect local
agricultural producers and others with legitimate proprietary, economic,
financial or other direct interests. They can rest assure that their voices
will be heard and the courts will be available to assist with the protection of
their rights, and of course that is the way it ought to should be. The
government will repeal this provision to return the law to the usual position
where only someone with a legitimate interest in commencing legal action has
standing to do so—someone who merely wants to prosecute a political cause does
not. This bill is part of the federal government's long-term economic plan.
Monday of this week marked the second year since our
government was elected to office. The people of Durack regularly tell me that
they are pleased that this government is a breath of fresh air after six years
of some of the most dysfunctional government in the Western world. Female
workforce participation is at record levels, with over 171,000 more women in
jobs at the time of the election. This has filtered through to Durack, I am very
pleased to say, where women from around the electorate often tell me about a
new job they have secured since our government was formed. The confidence which
has been instilled in the business community has been sound, with a record
223,013 new companies registered last year. We have delivered tax cuts for
small business, reducing the rate to the lowest it has been since 1967.
We are backing hardworking families through lower
electricity prices by having abolished the carbon tax. We are backing seniors
by providing certainty on superannuation. We are backing farmers with new tax
write-offs for fencing, water infrastructure and fodder storage. We are backing
homebuyers with interest rates at a four-decade low. We are backing job seekers
with jobactive, which will assist jobseekers find not just a job but a career.
We are backing northern Australia through the northern Australia white paper
with a plan for sustainable development through better roads and other
This government have a record which the opposition could
only dream of, and that is why I call on the Labor Party to join the government
in protecting Australian jobs and support this bill. The Abbott coalition
government want the highest environmental standards to apply, but we will not allow
jobs, investment and our economy to be threatened by activist litigation.
Business confidence and conditions are into positive territory, as Dun &
Bradstreet said on 1 September:
… we’re seeing robust levels of
optimism across all sectors in the … business community.
And they said, 'Retail trade is 4.2
per cent higher than it was 12 months ago.' The proof is in the pudding, and I
am pleased to say unemployment has dropped to 6.2 per cent, down one per cent
compared to this time last year. According to the Australian Financial Security
Authority, bankruptcies are at a 20-year low—more good news.
There is an increasing trend by green groups and other
organisations to use the court system to sabotage important economic projects.
Their obstructionist behaviour is sacrificing tens of thousands of Australian
The Abbott government want to build on this strong economic
footprint and build more regional jobs, especially in Durack, and that is why
this bill is essential. The federal government have applied the highest
environmental standards since coming to office. But, by doing that, we have
still managed to halve the time for environmental approvals and we have cleared
the backlog of projects that were left to languish by those sitting opposite.
This government's pragmatic approach to the environment since being elected has
created 3,000 new jobs for young Australians aged between 17 and 24 across over
350 projects throughout Australia.
Last week, I was very happy to be able to meet a vibrant,
dedicated group of the Green Army who are currently working on restoring the
Chapman and Greenough estuaries in the mid-west. This team is responsible for
protecting, restoring and celebrating the significant national environmental
and heritage values of these regionally significant waterways. The project
employs nine people and goes to the heart of one of my key priorities, which is
to give young people in my electorate a job. The Green Army is just one element
of the government's environmental platform, which has approved 176 projects
around Australia, valued at more than $1 trillion.
The people of Durack are a resilient, hardworking
community—as you know Acting Deputy Speaker Broadbent because I have told you
this before—and they are particularly frustrated by vocal minorities. It is not
news but there have been some job losses in WA's north, and this government
wants to ensure the right legislative environment, as do I, to encourage other
resources projects to get out of the ground and create more jobs for the people
of Durack. While I welcome people to exercise their democratic right to
protest, I do not support the obstructionist behaviour, which unjustifiably
wastes time and taxpayers' money and, more importantly, developers' money and,
ultimately, Australian jobs.
Vocal minorities have been ruling
the airways for far too long, sometimes for no other reason than to just be
adversarial, and regrettably the media gets sucked in every single time.
Currently under section 487 of the EPBC Act, radical
activists who have a political interest can and do disrupt important projects,
and this disruption is increasing. Activists themselves have declared that
their objective is to use the courts for the political purpose of stopping
developments. Alarmingly, we have learnt that one green group in their
document, 'Stopping the Australian coal export boom', declared litigation as a
strategy to delay and disrupt, and to reduce the financial viability of key
infrastructure projects, including ports, rail and mines. And no doubt many of
those potential projects would be in my electorate of Durack. This bill will
repeal this provision to return to the acceptable position where somebody with
a legitimate interest in commencing a legal action has standing to do so but
somebody who merely wants to prosecute a political cause does not.
I stand here commending this bill not just as a Liberal but
also as a lawyer. I also stand here commending this bill as someone who has
worked in business development in the resources sector. I 'get' jobs, you 'get'
jobs and the Abbott government 'gets' jobs as well. This bill is an element of
the Abbott government's long-term economic plan, which supports jobs. The bill
will disallow vocal minorities from engaging in vigilante time-wasting. Here is
an opportunity for the opposition to join the government in protecting
Australian jobs—existing jobs, but also the jobs of the future. I commend the
bill to the House.