House of Representatives Speech- Geothermal and other Renewable Energy (Emerging Technologies) Amendment Bill 2009

We oppose the Geothermal and other Renewable Energy (Emerging Technologies) Amendment Bill 2009. This bill is a pretence by the opposition that it is in any way genuinely concerned about either renewable energy targets or renewable energy sources or indeed tackling climate change at all. The opposition’s real level of concern about renewable energy was shown by its attitude to climate change and its attitude to renewable energy while in government. That attitude was to do next to nothing about it, to refuse to ratify the Kyoto protocol and to refuse to engage with dangerous climate change in any real way.

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Music and Language Education Adjournment

Much of the discussion on the new national curriculum has focused on literacy and numeracy. Less focus has been given to the other important areas of the curriculum. I am pleased to note that languages, along with the arts, including music, are part of the second phase of developing the national curriculum.

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House of Representatives Speech- Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Bill 2008 [2009]

I am very pleased to rise in support of theFreedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Bill 2008 [2009]. This legislation is a precursor to much larger reforms to the freedom of information system in this country, reforms which are a commitment of this government and the details of which were announced by the Special Minister of State, then Senator Faulkner, in March this year. Of the reforms contained in this bill, the most important is the removal of the conclusive certificates procedure. As I have indicated, these were all commitments made at the last election. Many of them are based on a now quite dated joint report of the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Administrative Review Council in 1996, entitled Open government: a slow train coming, which was regrettably ignored by the former government. What this bill represents is the first step in the most substantial set of reforms to the freedom of information system since the legislation was introduced in 1982. I am looking forward to the legislation containing the much larger set, the further reforms, that have been foreshadowed by the Special Minister of State.

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House of Representatives Speech- Military Justice (Interim Measures) Bill (No. 1) 2009 and Military Justice (Interim Measures) Bill (No. 2)

I rise in support of the Military Justice (Interim Measures) Bill (No. 1) 2009 and Military Justice (Interim Measures) Bill (No. 2) 2009, which, as the House has heard from the second reading speech, are a response to the decision of the High Court in Lane v Morrison, handed down on 26 August 2009. In that decision the High Court declared the provisions establishing the Australian Military Court in the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 to be invalid. As we have heard from previous speakers, those provisions, which established the Australian Military Court, came into existence through legislation passed by the former government in 2006—namely, the Defence Legislation Amendment Act 2006. It was legislation which was criticised by Labor in opposition. Labor, indeed, drew attention to the very problem which has been identified by the High Court in Lane v Morrison and which has led to this legislation being struck down.

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House of Representative Speech- Foreign States Immunities Amendment Bill 2009

Members of this House saw and heard the devastating consequences of the Black Saturday bushfires, which afflicted my home state of Victoria earlier this year. The fires ravaged communities, devastated entire towns and resulted in the deaths of many people. We heard in many moving condolence speeches that were given in this House in February of this year the full horror of the fires and their effects on communities. The courageous efforts of local firefighting volunteers, Country Fire Authority firefighters and professional firefighters from other countries were critical in bringing those fires under control and in preventing the even worse damage that would have been suffered had those firefighters not been there to stand between the people of Victoria and the fires.

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House of Representatives Speech- Corporations Amendment (Improving Accountability on Termination Payments) Bill 2009

The Australian people have become accustomed in recent years to reading stories of failed companies and of reading stories of companies that have recorded very substantially reduced profits or, indeed, very substantial losses in particular years of operations. They have become used to reading stories of companies that have reduced profits or substantial losses retrenching very, very large numbers of employees. Equally, in the context of these same stories, they have become used to reading of executives rewarding themselves notwithstanding the failure or poor performance of their companies with excessive termination payments at the very time that the company is on the slide. Almost all Australians who read stories of that nature recoil. There is something wrong about a system where company directors and senior company executives sitting around the boardroom table together can decide, in effect, to reward themselves with extraordinarily large amounts of money. They are not mere numbers, as the member for Fadden would have us believe, they are real dollars, excessive amounts of money, and what this bill, the Corporations Amendment (Improving Accountability on Termination Payments) Bill 2009, seeks to do is to impose some check, some curb, on those kinds of excessive termination payments.

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House of Representatives Speech- Access to Justice (Civil Litigation Reforms) Amendment Bill 2009

Access to justice is important. We need our courts to be able to provide real, affordable access to all citizens, not just pay lip-service to it. The legislation which governs federal courts needs to encourage and assist real, affordable access. The Access to Justice (Civil Litigation Reforms) Amendment Bill 2009 goes a long way to achieving those aims and for that reason I am very pleased to support this legislation. This bill will amend the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976, the Family Law Act 1975 and the Federal Magistrates Act 1999, which are the acts of this parliament that establish the three federal courts: the Federal Court, the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court.

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House of Representatives Speech-Intelligence and Security Committee Report

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s oversight of the Australian intelligence community is a key element of our national security architecture. I am therefore pleased to present the sixth review of the administration and expenditure of the Australian intelligence community by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

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House of Representatives Speech- Economy Adjournment

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak during the grievance debate about the impact of the global economic recession on families and businesses in my electorate. In particular, I spoke about some of the success stories that we have seen locally, even in these difficult economic times, and how the Rudd government is working hard to support jobs and businesses throughout this period. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by a division on a very important bill. I wanted to come back to this issue because it is so crucial to our local communities—to families and businesses in my electorate. I had been talking about a number of great local companies—Clean TeQ, who have won funding of almost $1 million under the Climate Ready program and who have almost doubled their staff in the past 18 months, and Frontline Australasia, who are working closely with the CSIRO in developing new industrial processes for a form of titanium pipe which could save thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases each year and uses Australian minerals for manufacturing here rather than being exported as raw material.

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House of Representatives Speech- Economy Debate

It is clear to everyone in this House, to every Australian family and to every Australian business that we face extraordinary economic circumstances. Globally, we are experiencing the worst recession since the Great Depression: the world economy is expected to contract by 1.3 per cent; other advanced economies are in deep recession. In Australia, the early and decisive action that was taken by the government has helped stave off technical recession. Fortunately, our economy has been more resilient and better equipped to withstand the global downturn. We are now the fastest growing economy in the OECD and we are the only major economy to have avoided recession.

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