Thursday, 27 November 2008

Hansard 2008-11-11 Water Commonwealth Powers Bill

The government introduced the Water (Commonwealth Powers) Bill to hand over control of the Victorian part of the Murray-Darling River system to the Federal Commonwealth Government.
Mr Kavanagh’s comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Activity: Second Reading
Date: 11 November 2008
Page: 4865

Second reading


Page 4878


Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I have only a few words to say about this bill.

Of course the Murray-Darling system represents the most precious asset we have in this country; indeed it is the most valuable resource we have on our continent. It is an asset and a resource that, of course, crosses state boundaries, and that is a situation fraught with some difficulties. We all know that with any water resource like this those downstream can easily be held hostage by those upstream and by whatever actions they take in removing water. The fact of the matter is that basically Victoria is downstream in the system, so it seems to me that Victoria has quite a lot to win from a situation where power over the river is transferred to an independent superstate authority -- in this case, of course, it is the commonwealth of Australia. It seems quite appropriate that a national government should have control over a national resource, particularly one that crosses borders between different states.

Hansard 2008-11-13 Manufacturing: regional Victoria

On 13 November 2008, Mr Peter Kavanagh DLP MLC for Western Victoria asked in Parliament Mr Lenders the Acting Minister for Industry and Trade about government action that had been taken in recent weeks to ensure the survival of manufacturing in regional Victoria
Mr Kavanagh’s comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Title: Manufacturing: regional and rural Victoria
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 13 November 2008
Page: 5014

Manufacturing: regional and rural Victoria

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question without notice is for the Treasurer in his capacity as Acting Minister for Industry and Trade, and it relates to manufacturing policy. Recent closures, including partial closures, in Ballarat and Geelong indicate that, partially due to the current global economic climate, regional manufacturers in Victoria are under unprecedented stress. I ask: while we await the government's manufacturing strategy, what actions, such as innovations or changes to policy, has the government taken in recent weeks to ensure the survival of manufacturing in regional Victoria?

Mr LENDERS (Acting Minister for Industry and Trade) -- I thank Mr Kavanagh for his question and his interest in regional manufacturing. Mr Kavanagh's question was: while awaiting a manufacturing statement, what is the government doing in the short term, in the interim, in regional areas?

The actions we have been taking in manufacturing for a period of time -- what we have done and what will be put into place -- have been specifically directed towards regional Victoria. I will be very brief on this.

Victoria was the first state to bring in a Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), and it was brought in by this Labor government. It was opposed in this house by the Liberals and The Nationals in the first instance, and it was only passed when it was introduced a second time. The significance of the fund is that in Mr Kavanagh's electorate and in all other regional electorates there is now the capacity for the state government to work with local government and with industry to build on infrastructure to assist in manufacturing. I could give numerous examples across the state of where that sort of infrastructure has been the key for new manufacturing to be able to come into an area.

Secondly, the Victorian industry participation policy that we were discussing before in this house was brought in by this government to assist manufacturing. There are ongoing examples of this: reductions in payroll tax which came into effect on 1 July, helping manufacturing; reductions in land tax which came in on 1 July, helping manufacturing; and the cut to WorkCover premiums which came in on 1 July, helping manufacturers. In addition to that -- and this is obviously nothing to do with the government -- for those manufacturers relying on exports the Australian dollar has gone from around US98 cents, I think the

Page 5015

figure was, in late May down to the high 60s now. That is obviously assisting regional manufacturers.

More immediate than that is the investment the government has made in infrastructure in some industries in regional Victoria. This is not in Mr Kavanagh's electorate, but as an example, investment in infrastructure has meant that concrete castings for some road projects are being built in the Latrobe Valley. It is a $4 billion infrastructure project, and much of that money goes into manufactured products. That is happening now.

Mr Koch interjected.

Mr LENDERS -- Mr Koch interjects about John Valves in Ballarat. Yesterday the head of Regional Development Victoria was there. We are in ongoing dialogue in the area to find a buyer for that company and work it through.

These are not easy times, and Mr Kavanagh is certainly not implying they are. What he is saying is: what are we doing in the interim? In the interim we are working with companies and we are working with their workforces. Those policies relating to RIDF, WorkCover, policies land tax, stamp duties and payroll tax are all assisting manufacturing. Many of these things are only kicking in now; these policy initiatives are just coming into place. There is a lot more to be done. The manufacturing statement will articulate a lot of the things we are doing and the things we will do. Mr Kavanagh and I both share a great regard for manufacturing, particularly in regional Victoria. This state has a great future, and this government will work with manufacturing to deliver on that.

Supplementary question

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- Of the changes the minister just outlined, I ask: which of them represent responses to the new international environment in finance and the economy that has developed in the last couple of months?

Mr LENDERS (Acting Minister for Industry and Trade) -- All of them. There is not a single item that alone assists an individual manufacturer -- it is a collection. All the things I mentioned in relation to the budget -- land tax, stamp duty, payroll tax and WorkCover premiums -- assist in reducing the burden on manufacturers. The single largest issue for a manufacturer who relies on exports is the fluctuating dollar, and the government can claim no credit for that -- that is obviously an international factor.

The other thing I did not mention which is making a significant difference to manufacturers now is the intervention of the national government along with most other G20 governments in stabilising the banking system.

Banks are now lending to banks again, and banks are lending to customers again. We are seeing the effects of that guarantee flowing through. Similarly share markets are partly stabilising. The share market has gone down a long, long way, but we are seeing governments attempting to address that volatility at a national and international level with the freeze on short selling and a range of other things.

Together, all these are necessary for business confidence and consumer confidence, which will assist manufacturing. There is no single answer, as Mr Kavanagh well knows, and he is not implying there is. All of these measures come together to assist manufacturing. I think anybody who believes a single manufacturing statement or a single action by a government will make a difference is ignoring the fact that there are multiple factors coming together.

We have strategies and they are all coming together, but we are working with individual manufacturers in what are, particularly for those who do not export, trying times in the current environment.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Hansard 2008-10-16 John Valves Pty Ltd in Ballarat

John Valves Pty Ltd, a manufacturing company operating in Ballarat since 1896 and employing 120 to 130 workers, had been placed into administration.
Mr Peter Kavanagh DLP MLC for Western Victoria Region called on the government to assist the affected workers and industries in Victoria.
Mr Kavanagh's comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Title: John Valves Pty Ltd: government assistance
Activity: Members Statements
Date: 16 October 2008
Page: 4461


Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I referred yesterday to John Valves Pty Ltd, which has been placed into administration. The company has been operating since 1896. I support many of the comments made by Mr Vogels this morning. Like Mr Vogels, I visited John Valves in the middle of this year and was told by company representatives that they felt it was not getting a fair deal from the Victorian government. Neither was it getting fair treatment from the commonwealth government, because protection at that level is very low -- much lower than that provided in other countries that give protection to their industries.

In addition, the company felt it was not given fair consideration by the Victorian government for many projects in Victoria. Mr Vogels referred to a long list of them. Although the company was supplying other states, it had not won a contract in Victoria.

On behalf of John Valves Pty Ltd I asked the minister at that time to give the company better consideration.

I call on the government, firstly, to do what it can for the 120 to 130 workers whose future is now in jeopardy; secondly, to do what it can to guarantee better consideration in the future so that a new buyer may be found for the company; and thirdly, to provide better treatment of all industries in Victoria, especially in rural and regional Victoria.

Hansard 2008-10-29 Innovation: stem cell research

Professor Martin, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, had recently written a letter showing that cloning for research purposes has been absolutely superseded and has become completely redundant.
Mr Peter Kavanagh, DLP MLC for Western Victoria Region, asked Mr Jennings the Minister for Innovation about changes that have been made to government policy in response to this fundamental change in research technology.
Mr Kavanagh's comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Title: Innovation: stem cell research
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 29 October 2008
Page: 4611


Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question is for Mr Jennings, the Minister for Innovation. It relates to a topic that was raised yesterday in the house regarding cloning for stem cell research. I refer to a letter written by an emeritus professor of medicine, Professor Martin, at the University of Melbourne. It was a letter that I think was received by most members, and it shows that already, over the last 12 months, cloning for research purposes has been absolutely superseded and is now completely redundant. It concludes:

"As it stands now, there is no basis for any further efforts to achieve therapeutic cloning using the transfer of adult cell nuclei to human eggs. Indeed it would be irresponsible to attempt this."

I ask the minister: what changes have been made to government policy in response to this fundamental change in research technology?

Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Innovation) -- I am happy to answer the question from Mr Kavanagh. Every time I talk about stem cells I pre-empt the eventual arrival of his question and probably matters that he will raise in consideration of a matter that I will not pre-empt by talking about what is on the notice paper. I am well aware of Mr Kavanagh's enduring interest in this matter.

When I talk about the funding that has been provided by the state of Victoria and joined in a collaborative effort by the New South Wales government in recent times in supporting stem cell research, I take the opportunity to talk about the parallel stream of embryonic stem cell research with induced pluripotent stem cells, which is the alternative stream that Mr Kavanagh and other members of the community have a greater degree of confidence in because it is derived from other forms of tissue rather than through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). I have taken the opportunity to reflect on the intention of the government through its funding arrangements to test the validity and the application of these various forms of stem cell research.

I understand Mr Kavanagh is not alone in having ethical considerations about SCNT stem cell research; others in the community share his concern. However, what Mr Kavanagh purports to be the accepted scientific wisdom is an assertion which I refute.

That it is well established and recognised and that there is no longer a valid reason to pursue SCNT stem cell research are assertions I reject.

Part of the scientific research program that we have in Victoria, part of what is happening around the world and part of the collaboration between ourselves and the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is to test what is the appropriate application of that field of scientific endeavour and what benefits the community may derive from it.

I am happy for us to be tested in this field and I am happy for us to see the relative effectiveness of these two forms of the significant streams of stem cell research, but I do not accept that there has been unequivocal scientific evidence to fall on one side or the other.

I will assert in this place, in the public domain and in subsequent debates, in terms of providing support for research into the future, that there are still many reasons why we should continue with determination to explore the application and effectiveness of stem cell research.

Supplementary question

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- If the obsolescence of cloning as a research technique can be shown to the satisfaction of the minister, would that not warrant, indeed necessitate, a change in government policy?

Page 4612

The PRESIDENT -- Order! In my opinion Mr Kavanagh is asking for an opinion, which is contrary to the standing orders.

Mr Jennings interjected.

The PRESIDENT -- Order! I am sure the minister can answer, but the question is whether the Chair will allow it to be answered. I will allow Mr Kavanagh the opportunity to rephrase his supplementary question.

Mr KAVANAGH -- If it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the minister that the cloning technology is now obsolete, does he intend to change government policy?

Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Innovation) -- I thank the President for the opportunity to allow Mr Kavanagh to ask his question because it still warrants some personal opinion of mine and in terms of my responsibilities, but I am happy to outline what the sequence of events would be. In terms of the evidence and in terms of the commitment to research, I do not desert for 1 second from what I have said in my substantive answer. There are still many reasons for us to pursue with vigour the potential for SCNT research.

If the hypothetical situation of Mr Kavanagh's assertion came to be the scientific opinion that I would accept, then subsequently I, as a part of the government, would have some opportunities and obligations to share that with my colleagues and, with the collaboration within the policy development process of the government, to determine what the appropriate policy framework may be, and then, if necessary, to lead to legislation.

But at this point in time the Victorian government absolutely reaffirms its commitment to the legislative framework that we have in place in Victoria, to support the scientific research that we have in place and to consider -- on the basis of the best evidence, the best science and the best ethical considerations -- our position going forward. At this point in time we have got a lot of work to do.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

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