Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (16:20): I am also a proud member of the draper family, and the member for Brand and I caught up on that, as we were doing our work interstate last week. I am a very proud small business person as well, and the heritage that I and the member for Brand bring to this place is an honourable heritage. I am also an unabashed friend of the worker—an unabashed friend of the workers in Gippsland especially. I refer to Ed Gannon’s article, ‘Saving the environment comes at the cost of jobs’, where the Labor Party in Victoria is walking away from 230 workers at the timber mill in Heyfield. Two hundred and thirty workers in Heyfield—a town of 2,000 people—is equivalent to 460,000 jobs in Melbourne. That is what they are threatening.
I have been very close to the CFMEU forestry division workers and have worked closely with them over a long period of time, not only on the timber mill issues in the timber industry but more importantly in the paper industry, which is vital to thousands of jobs in Victoria.
Thousands, and you cannot mock what I am saying because you are not one of the workers under threat here. Until such time as your livelihood is under threat, do not mock me as I stand here on their behalf. Thousands! Not only is this mill important to Heyfield but it affects 7,000 more jobs across my region and into outer Melbourne. Why 7,000 jobs? Because the seconds taken out of that forest supply the paper mill, which some of the departments in this place use. This is a serious issue about families’ livelihoods and it is not to be discounted.
At a time when Hazelwood is closing down, with a loss of 1,000 workers and all that goes with that, Theo Theophanous, a former energy minister in the Bracks government, argues that renewing or rebuilding Hazelwood could mean a greener and a cheaper future. In fact, I have had people in my office saying that this closure puts our national electricity grid under threat. On our worst day we could be under threat nationally, not just in South Australia. I do not know whether that argument is correct. I do not know whether it can be tested. The only day it will be tested is the day we run out of power.
We have taken 25 per cent of Victoria’s power needs off the grid when Theo says that we could have done it a different way. We could have supported Alcoa in a different way. It was put forward to them, but what happened? The Greens stopped this happening in the Labor government. I have spoken to this House about the Labor Party’s need to be beholden to the Greens. You are affecting the livelihoods and jobs of ordinary people, people who are basically and truly your base, your voters, your blue-collar workers. Why do they vote for people like me and Gary Blackwood? Because we put their interests first: we argue their interests in our party room, we argue their interests on the floor of this House and we argue for their livelihoods. It means their school. It means their primary school. It means the Heyfield Primary School. It means the Heyfield secondary college. It is all of the issues around the whole town. It is about the drapery store in Heyfield that will not exist if you take 200 workers out.
Where is Michael O’Connor? Michael, where are you? You and the CFMEU should be right behind these workers getting this issue fixed with Dan’s government. It is time. We have not got any more time to fluff around. We are losing jobs left, right and centre in Gippsland. If you want to really do damage to families, schools, kids and opportunities of the future keep doing what the Labor government is doing in Victoria—pandering to the Greens at every occasion. Some time in this House somebody is going to start to put the national interest first; they are going to put Australia first.