MPI – Science and Innovation

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (16:10): As this debate comes to its conclusion, I get the job of summing up. The positive about that is that we have no more contributions from those opposite that we have to sit through, which is very fortunate. The Assistant Minister for Science was right. We are investing $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation in the 2015-16 budget. That is $9,700 million. That is an enormous amount of taxpayers’ money. We are providing record funding to the CSIRO over four years—$3.1 billion—and it is going up every year; it is not going down. That is a very simple economic fact. It is increasing. We are putting money into things like the $395 million Entrepreneurs’ Program. There are things within the department of industry. We are helping local businesses to employ more people and expand.

We can look at what those on the other side of the House did when they were in government. We are fairly certain of that. When in government, they cut $82.9 million from the CSIRO in 2011-12 to 2016-17. They did not put it up; they cut $82.9 million from the CSIRO. There is not only that. In 2008, they took out another $63.4 million. That is a substantial amount of money and yet they are here telling us that our increases are not good enough. What did the CSIRO say about that? The CEO at that time said:

We are seriously disappointed, but that is their call and we disagree with it.

As they say, that is an understatement. What else did they cut? They cut $40.5 million from the Cooperative Research Centres in the 2011-12 budget, and what happened as a result? Three agricultural CRCs were abolished—gone. We hear a lot about these people with country Labor and the wonderful thing with a hashtag in front of it.

I am very pleased that the shadow minister for agriculture is here, because the people in the bush know exactly what happens when Labor are in government. They destroy the bush; they cut things like the agricultural CRC; they closed the live cattle trade overnight; and they cut thousands of jobs for people who are truck drivers, people who are musterers and people who provide services. Within 24 hours—overnight—and no notice, they shut them down and cost this country and the people who live in the bush millions of dollars. It is absolutely shameful.

There was the contribution from the member for Greenway. She talked about a big game and this side of the parliament being all talk. On this side, the things that we have include vision. We have vision, we know how to plan, we know how to implement and we know how to build structures that help business. It is not government that employs. Regardless of how much money we might have, the government cannot employ every Australian. It simply will not work. You need to have structures for them to be successful and you need to take action. We need to get it done. I will talk about that very soon—exactly what we are doing on the ground, in my seat, in the electorate of Hinkler.

On the other side, what do they have? They have a giant stack of drink coasters. Every now and again, they might come up with an idea and they will write it down with a pen and then spend thousands or billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. The member for Chifley asked rightly: what innovation do we have in Hinkler? I am quite happy to answer the member for Chifley. We have any number of people who have been incredibly innovative. We can look at Sweet Sensations Farm and Mr Craig Van Rooyen. He is using drone technology as a nonlethal method to combat flying foxes. Flying foxes and drones, would you believe, in Bundaberg, in my seat. Run4 owner, Dr Henry Thomas, has built a biotic runner to try to help people who possibly cannot run because of the impacts of running on the road. We have Bundaberg Walkers Engineering—someone who has been there for 125 years—innovating in not only the sugar industry but heavy manufacturing. They are a foundry. They perform activities all over the world. They are using 3-D spatial technology right now to map overseas infrastructure to try to make them more competitive with international companies.

Jack Milbank, a 2006 Nuffield scholar, with a Bachelor of Applied Science, is the CEO of three Bundaberg based businesses, including the Bargara Brewing Company. This is a gentleman who had been importing yeast from overseas and decided he did not want to import from overseas any more. ‘How do I get yeast? Well, I brew beer.’ At the recent science forum he really encouraged lots of students to take up STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—because STEM leads to beer. That was his line: STEM leads to beer! What a fantastic innovation for my electorate. Bargara Brewing Company, right there in Bundaberg, making their own product. This is the sort of thing we need.

Best Practice Software—Lorraine Pyefinch—is one of the largest providers in the country of software for medical people, for GPs, and it is based out of Bundaberg. So we have things on the ground. We are taking action and we are getting it done.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time for the discussion has concluded.


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