Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:10): Senator Carr is correct when he says that this could have been avoided. It could have been avoided if the previous Labor government had done something in its six years. Instead the Labor government in the six sad years when it was in power did absolutely nothing except buy a warship from the United Kingdom. Senator Carr should remember when his government purchased the HMAS Choulesfrom the British government. Why did they not do something then? Senator Carr is walking out the door, not interested in this debate at all. I remind the Senate that in 2012 BAE offered the then government, the Labor government, the opportunity to build supply vessels in a hybrid build—part of it in Australia and part of it overseas. What did the Labor government do with that offer from BAE? They did absolutely what they did all the way through their sad six years in office: absolutely nothing. Had they accepted that offer from BAE at the time there would be people involved in that shipbuilding at present.

The Abbott government has nothing to be ashamed of in relation to shipbuilding. Indeed, conservative governments, Liberal governments since time immemorial have built ships in Australia. I remember the patrol boats that were built in Cairns very many years ago. Senator McLucas, who is based in Cairns, will well remember this. There was a Cairns company that built those ships. They were tendering under the last Labor government for a new lot of ships. In fact they had been given the tip-off that they were going to get the contract. At least then the Labor government would have done something with shipbuilding in Australia. But what happened at the last minute? The Labor government of Queensland and the Labor government federally cut the ground from under them and refused to give them that contract—

Senator McLucas: Tell the truth!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: as a result of which the Cairns shipbuilding industry, once very vibrant and successful and employing people, was shut down. And Senator McLucas has never criticised the Labor government for that horrendous decision that destroyed a shipbuilding industry in my state of Queensland. The coalition government is working towards a shipbuilding industry, and I am delighted that this has been done. I thank my colleague Senator Sean Edwards for his part in building this industry in Australia back up.

The motion before the chair is to take note of all Labor questions. I will briefly mention a couple of other questions that came up at question time. One of them related to the issue of emissions of carbon. I just point out to the Labor Party and the Greens, who criticise the government all the time, that it was the Howard government that committed to a target in Kyoto and that the Australian government is one of the few governments around the world that actually met and exceeded its Kyoto targets. We will do this under the plans put forward by the Prime Minister just yesterday. It is important that we concentrate on this issue. Again, we will see in Paris that Australia will make commitments that it will keep—unlike other countries, which will make commitments and not keep them, unlike the Labor Party, who will make commitments that they know they have absolutely no chance of committing to.

Finally, there was a question about same-sex marriage. I again point out to those who might be interested: unlike the Labor Party, which is directed by the unions to vote in a particular way, in the coalition we have a full debate on these issues and come to a conclusion that is guided not by the unions and some faceless men in the Labor Party but by the people of Australia, represented by their representatives in this parliament. (Time expired)


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