Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme
I had the privilege of speaking in Parliament last week to support the motion of my friend and colleague the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Member for Riverina, to continue the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
The PALM scheme helps to fill labour gaps in rural and regional Australia and agriculture nationally. It also allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up seasonal jobs in Australia, develop their skills and send income home.
I have spoken to people who are benefitting from this scheme and I believe it should be continued in its current form, as it has proven to be a positive connection between Australia and our neighbours in the Pacific.
I do not support the proposal to use a ballot system to determine participation in this scheme, as it’s my view that we need to be specific about the skillset and aptitude of the people that come in to work in our country.
I also have reservations about shifting the scheme to include permanency, as the danger is that this then completely removes good, hard-working people from communities in the Pacific. I would prefer to see them build their skills, support Australian agriculture, then go back and lift the economies of their own countries as well. This is what this kind of partnership is about.
The full transcript of my speech on the PALM scheme is available at: https://www.markcoulton.com.au/private-members-business-pacific-australia-labour-mobility/
The importance of kidney checks
There were several key meetings held in Parliament House during what was a busy sitting week, and in between I was able to find time to visit the pop-up clinic hosted by Kidney Health Australia to participate in a kidney check.
I spoke with Brad Rossiter, who has both kidney disease and diabetes, and learnt that one in three Australians have an increased risk of kidney disease, with the added danger that 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost before symptoms become apparent.
The Parkes electorate has a high number of people with kidney disease or a vulnerability such as diabetes or high blood pressure, so I’m encouraging everyone to make it a priority to contact your health professional and get checked.
National Reconstruction Fund
I have serious concerns about the Labor Government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund Bill, which is supposed to boost manufacturing in Australia but actively undermines the resources it relies on.
The Labor Government have caved to demands from the Greens to push the National Reconstruction Fund Bill through Parliament. This will pour $15 billion into manufacturing but prohibits investment in coal, gas and native forestry, effectively turning its back on these industries.
The Labor Government says it wants to build our industrial base and boost regional economic development, but without affordable and reliable energy I fail to see how this can be achieved. Renewables technology is not yet able to supply our manufacturing industries with the power they need, so cutting some of our major energy suppliers out of this picture seems counterproductive. Power prices are through the roof and shutting out the energy resources we currently have within reach is not a good move.
Another area of concern is that smaller businesses will be less able to access assistance under this Bill than they were under the Coalition’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which the Labor Government is seeking to replace. I question how this money will be spent. What I don’t want to see is the National Reconstruction Fund Bill enabling the Government to install a Labor-picked Board to spend up to $15 billion of taxpayer funds on Labor-picked priorities. Labor priorities rarely result in a good outcome, especially for people in the Parkes electorate.