Media Releases

Applications now open to help strengthen supply chains

Businesses in Tasmania are encouraged to apply for a grant to help strengthen Australia’s supply chain capabilities and access to critical products in times of crisis.

Applications have now been opened for manufacturers under the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative – a key part of the Liberal Government’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy. 

Matched grants of between $50,000 and $2 million are on offer for businesses that can help address supply chain vulnerabilities across medicines and agricultural production chemicals –which were identified as sectors of focus in the Sovereign Manufacturing Capability Plan.

Eric Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, said projects could include scaling up existing manufacturing and workforce skills capability or increasing supply chain transparency through technology. 

“COVID-19 has taught us that we need to be able to have access to critical products in times of crisis and that’s why we’re investing in projects to strengthen our supply chain resilience,” Senator Abetz said.

“The Liberal Government has already worked side-by-side with industry, offering significant investment to scale up Australia’s ability to make PPE locally when we needed it most. Now we want to drive the same success for medicines and agricultural production chemicals.”

Senator Abetz said businesses with project ideas are encouraged to apply for funding. 

“The Liberal Government is working to not only strengthen our ability to access critical products for the health and wellbeing of all Australians but also to grow our manufacturing sector and create new jobs.”

“This initiative is a key way businesses in Tasmania can be part of important efforts to shore up the nation’s supply chains and I strongly encourage them to apply for a grant.”

Investing in manufacturing projects to support our resilience through the $107.2 million Supply Chain Resilience Initiative is part of a range of measures the Liberal Government is delivering to bolster Australia’s supply chain resilience. 

This includes the establishment of the Office of Supply Chain Resilience to provide ongoing capacity to monitor vulnerabilities and coordinate whole-of-government efforts to boost supply chain resilience. It also consists of the Liberal Government’s ongoing commitment to open trade and open markets, which drive our resilience by making our own economy more competitive and able to handle change. 

To find out more or apply for a grant under the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, visit business.gov.au/scri 

To read more in the Sovereign Manufacturing Capability Plan, visit industry.gov.au/smcp   

Extra 30,000 places to support first home buyers

First home buyers and single parents with children in Tasmania will be eligible to apply for 30,000 additional places under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, the New Home Guarantee program, and the Family Home Guarantee from 1 July 2021. 

Since the introduction of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and New Home Guarantee, 30,000 Australians have been able to enter the housing market.

As announced in the 2021-22 Budget, the Liberal Government will establish the Family Home Guarantee to support single parents with dependants. Starting 1 July 2021, 10,000 guarantees will be made available to eligible single parent families to build a new home or purchase an existing home with a deposit of as little as 2 per cent.

“We’re giving first home buyers and single parents with children in Tasmania the opportunity to enter the housing market and buy their very own home,” said Senator Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania.

“By supporting single parents and their children, the Liberal Government is helping more people in Tasmania achieve the security and dignity that home ownership provides.”

“With the 30,000 new places available from 1 July, now is the time for potential applicants to contact a participating bank or mortgage provider and get their applications underway.”

“The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme has been a landmark success of the Liberal Government since its commencement in 2020. 30,000 first home buyers have been supported into home ownership through First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and New Home Guarantee already.”

“We know how difficult it can be to buy a new home or re-enter the housing market, and that saving a deposit is the hardest part of getting into home ownership. That’s why the Liberal Government has established the new Family Home Guarantee, which recognises the challenge of saving for a deposit is that much more difficult when you are a single parent with children.”

The New Home Guarantee commenced on 6 October 2020 as a temporary expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. It will provide an additional 10,000 places for first home buyers seeking to build a new home or purchase a newly built dwelling with a deposit of 5 per cent and a construction commencement timeframe of 12 months.

Bob Brown’s High Court loss a win for forestry communities

The High Court has rejected a bid to appeal a Federal Court decision that the Regional Forest Agreement in Tasmania meets the definition of Federal environment law.

Now that this case has been lost, the Bob Brown Foundation must withdraw its protesters from Tasmania’s West Coast where they have invaded a working forest area to protest the Rosebery mine’s storage facility.

The High Court rejection confirms the Full Federal Court ruling and clarifies the relationship between the EPBC Act and the RFA.

Eric Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, welcomed the news stating that many Tasmanian businesses, forest workers and their families faced an uncertain future if the legal case had been successful.

“This decision confirms the previous Full Court decision in February that the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement meets the requirement of both its Act and that of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” Senator Abetz said.

Senator Abetz has previously criticised Bob Brown and his “eco- charity” for taking similar legal action, which is often referred to as “lawfare” and is a well-documented campaign tactic of the green movement.

“Bob Brown and his foundation have yet again failed in their attempt to deny jobs and sustainability of regional communities in the harnessing of a truly renewable resource. 

People are unwittingly donating to a foundation which is splashing around its funds on doomed legal processes for cheap publicity stunts.”

“Yet again, Bob Brown has got it wrong, very wrong, and the High Court has said so. As is their want, the extreme Greens never admit they are wrong and simply ramp up their rhetoric in the face of being comprehensively proven wrong.”

“This ruling should provide certainty for our hardworking forestry communities and their families.”

It also demonstrates that the special status of environmental lobby groups to take legal action is something that should be removed under the EPBC Act and brings into question the use of tax-deductible charity donations to fund legal action,” Senator Abetz concluded. 

15 MP's sign letter demanding action on Port of Newcastle

Fifteen parliamentarians have signed and sent a joint letter to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister requesting action on the monopolised Port of Newcastle (PoN), which is 50 per cent owned by Belt and Road Initiative actor China Merchants Port Holdings.

The parliamentarians are highly concerned about proposed regulatory changes to the National Access Regime foreshadowed in the 2021-22 Federal Budget and how it could give the Chinese Communist Party CCP a strategic geopolitical advantage over the export of Australian coal.

The Budget appears to retrospectively eliminate previous arbitration determinations relating to the port. In addition, the ACCC has no oversight on the port and its monopoly status. ACCC Chair Rod Sims has described the Port of Newcastle as "a monopolist without constraint.”[1]

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, co-signatory of the letter, said the Budget measures, the 50 per cent foreign ownership, the monopoly status and the lack of regulatory oversight of the port is deeply concerning and a serious issue that must be addressed.

“The Port of Newcastle is an important strategic national economic asset as coal exports that go through it represent around 40 per cent of Australia’s national coal export volumes and the port has used its monopoly position in relation to Hunter coal exporters, creating uncertainty that threatens jobs and the global competitiveness of coal exports through the port,” said Senator Abetz.

“In 2020, China imposed steep restrictions on Australian coal imports and ongoing price increases at the Port of Newcastle will impact the global competitiveness of Australian coal exports and Australia’s capacity to export coal to other countries.”

“The 50 per cent lease of an important infrastructure asset to a company backed by Belt and Road Initiative actor for another 91 years and its monopoly position needs urgent assessment as is currently being undertaken with the Port of Darwin.”

“We the signatories call on the government to declare the Port of Newcastle a monopoly under the National Access Regime, establish arbitration mechanisms between coal producers and the port and provide assurance that any regulatory changes in relation to arbitration determinations will not be retrospective.”

The Infrastructure Fund and China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort), each own 50 per cent of PoN. The PoN has 91 years of management rights and land lease left following its lease in 2014.

The parent of CMPort, China Merchants Group Limited, is a huge multinational state-owned corporation of the People's Republic of China. The company and its subsidiaries are key actors in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. CMPort proudly described itself in its 2019 annual report as “a crucial vehicle for China Merchants Group to implement the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative promoted by China and the ‘Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area’ strategy.”

China Merchants Group Limited also boasts that it is guided by “Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”

The port is the only gateway port for Hunter Valley coalfields which produces high-quality thermal coal, and it handles approximately 40 per cent of Australia’s export volume of coal. The port currently handles 4,400 ship movements and 164 million tonnes of cargo annually.

 


[1] ACCC perspectives on transport issues, Australasian Transport Research Forum, 30 September 2019

Defence investment delivers $16m boost for Tas economy

Almost $16 million will be invested in the delivery of vehicle workshops, hardstands and shelters at Derwent Barracks, Glenorchy, to support the modernisation of the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force vehicle fleet.

Lendlease will deliver fit-for-purpose facilities and infrastructure to sustain the new fleet of trucks and trailers being procured for the Australian Defence Force.

The project has an expected peak workforce of about 40 people per day during its 16-month construction period.

It is part of a larger, $150 million national infrastructure project that will deliver supporting infrastructure for the sustainment and maintenance of the Australian Defence Force’s next-generation defence logistics vehicle fleet.

“It is good to see Hobart gaining 10% of the national spend in this project,” said Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz.  

This vehicle fleet is capable of supporting combat operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and training to ensure the Australian Defence Force is prepared for both current and future operations.

Lendlease is committed to achieving a target of 90 per cent local workforce participation for the works being delivered at Derwent Barracks.

Senator Abetz said the investment was indicative of the Australian Government ensuring strong defence capabilities.

“The construction at Derwent Barracks will benefit the local economy by providing opportunities to local suppliers and subcontractors.”

“Our vehicle fleet plays an integral role in the logistical capabilities of the Defence Force and this modernisation investment ensures our Defence Force remains world class.” 

“It’s yet more recognition of the vital role Tasmania plays in our defence strategy.”  

Work on the Derwent Barracks works being delivered under the Land 121 Stage 5B project is expected to be complete by late 2022. Public or industry enquiries can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

$929,000 in funding support for Tasmanians with disability

People with disability across Tasmania will have access to greater support to participate in community activities and strengthen their self-advocacy skills thanks to a $929,000 grant by the Liberal Government.

Today, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, announced that disability organisation Speak Out Association of Tasmania would be provided with a grant of up to $929,304 to fund its “Peers for Success” program, which will combine the positive impact of peer support networks with self-advocacy/empowerment education. All activities will be co-designed and co-facilitated by people with intellectual disability (PWID).

The “Peers for Success” program will reinvigorate peer-led networks impacted by COVID,  extend networks and groups in hard to reach environments - e.g. group homes, remote areas, upskill PWID as peer educators, facilitators and mentors, deliver the Road to Success Self Advocacy Program and extend Speak Out’s individualised leadership development program.

Speak Out will deliver the Peers for Success program across the state. Capacity-building activities will focus on the areas in the southern region of Tasmania (including the greater Hobart region, Huon Valley) the north west region including Circular Head, the west coast, and the northern region of Tasmania. Speak Out aims for the program to assist over 350 people and is set to roll out in July. 

“One in five Tasmanians live with disability and Speak Out Association of Tasmania is therefore a much-needed organisation providing personalised advocacy and support to people with intellectual disability across our state,” Senator Abetz said.

“Covid-19 has had a negative impact on connectedness, motivation, independence and empowerment for people with disability and this grant will greatly advance the chances of people with disabilities living an ordinary life, developing a positive sense of knowing who they are, as well as their value and rights.”  

Speak Out Manager Jenny Dixon said that “People with intellectual disability have many skills and talents to mentor each other, raise community awareness about issues of importance, and lead change.” 

“Our Facebook traffic increased by more than 1000 per cent during Covid-19 as people sought support and information and this grant is a timely investment in working toward the goal for a more inclusive society that enables all Tasmanians to participate in their community.”

The grant is being delivered under the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants program. ILC provides funding to organisations to deliver projects in the community that benefit all Australians with disability, their carers and families.

The Speak Out Association of Tasmania is a disabled persons' organisation that aims to develop a respectful community for people with disability (PWD) by promoting and defending rights through our advocacy work, building the capacity of PWD, good governance that includes PWID and building the capacity of communities.

Port of Darwin deal review essential and long overdue

Today’s announcement of a review into the Port of Darwin is an overdue and vital step in maintaining the integrity of Australia’s critical infrastructure and protection from possible foreign interference. 

The decision to lease the Port of Darwin to Landbridge Industry Australia, a subsidiary of Shandong Landbridge Group, a Chinese company whose billionaire owner was named by the Chinese Government in 2013 as one of the top 10 ‘individuals caring about the development of national defence’ and the company was later found to have extensive links to the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army, was a serious mistake that must be rectified. 

In 2015, the Department of Defence “examined the possible security implications” of the lease of the port but did not have any concerns. Former Secretary of the Department of Defence, Dennis Richardson, said at Senate Estimates hearings on 21 October 2015 that “no part of defence had a concern from a security perspective in the respect of the sale.”

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, Chair of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee, said the review was vital and overdue and questioned how the Department of Defence allowed the deal.   

“It is unfathomable why the port was leased to a company whose billionaire owner was named by the Chinese Government in 2013 as one of the top 10 ‘individuals caring about the development of national defence’ and the company was later found to have extensive links to the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army.”

“The CCP would never let a foreign nation interfere with their ‘internal affairs’ with the purchase of such a piece of infrastructure that is so militarily, economically, and strategically important to the nation, yet DFAT inexplicably thought this was in the nation’s interest.”   

“From the Greek Port of Piraeus, sold to the Chinese state-owned enterprise COSCO for a 51 per cent stake, Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka, ceded to the Chinese Government – along with 15,000 acres of surrounding land – for  99 years, or the Port of Doraleh in Djibouti, which is now buttressed by China’s first overseas military base, China has a consistent record of buying ports in vital shipping areas and using their economic leverage to extract military and strategic advantages.”             

“Australia faces unprecedented levels of foreign interference aimed at undermining our political system, critical infrastructure and social institutions. Given the new powers of the Federal Government under the Foreign Relations Bill, it is a timely and appropriate decision from Minister Dutton to consider all investments and the purchase of critical assets by foreign nations that have the potential to subvert our national interests and security.”

Statement regarding Sue Hickey

Ms Hickey’s defamatory allegations under Parliamentary privilege are categorically denied.
Allegations of rape are serious matters and have always been treated as such by me. Sexual assault is an issue on which I’ve been consistently outspoken including domestic violence.

Ms Hickey’s suggestions otherwise is simply false. As some one who was on the inaugural committee of a women’s shelter and its honorary legal adviser for a decade prior to entering parliament, I reject outright her suggestions and gross mischaracterisation of our discussion.

Its noteworthy Ms Hickey has made her assertions some 3 weeks after she alleges they occurred.

At no stage has Ms Hickey ever raised concerns with me about any of our conversations.

Indeed, a fortnight later when we had a chance meeting in a coffee shop in Launceston Ms Hickey actually offered to buy me a cup of coffee which I politely declined because I was about to meet someone.

What has changed? The Premier telling her on Sunday she was no longer wanted by the Liberal Party. On her way out the door she is trying to destroy the Party – noting she has demeaned all her former female Liberal colleagues of Parliament and especially the Attorney General, the membership which initially endorsed her and even “unknown people”.

Standing firm against ugly dictatorships is everyone’s duty Mr Chiu

Standing firm against ugly dictatorships is everyone’s duty. I, therefore, make no apology for the exchange between Mr Chiu and myself yesterday. 

Mr Chiu appeared before a Senate Committee. His submission’s opening line was “Australian politics is too white”. His concern was clearly about identity politics of colour/race and not of values, beliefs and character. Criticism of a dictatorship that holds one million people of an ethnic minority in concentration camps and unapologetically commits a wide range of human rights abuses has nothing to do with race and everything to do with values. He was willing to criticise Australia on the basis of colour but not condemn China on the basis of values.    

I have been accused of “demanding proof” of Mr Chiu’s loyalty. The Hansard proves this to be a falsehood. Let the record speak:    

Mr Chiu: As I said previously, I support and believe in the universality of human rights. I don't support the Communist Party but I don't believe that it's helpful to get into a political game of denouncements.

Senator ABETZ: So you can't condemn it?

Mr Chiu: I think my statement was quite clear about how I don't support the Communist Party and I don't support what it does.

Senator ABETZ: There's a difference between not supporting something and actively condemning a regime that engages in forced organ harvesting and having a million Uighers in concentration camps—the list goes on, and all we have is this limp statement that we don't support it.

At no point did I question the loyalty of anyone. I did not even mention the word “loyalty”. Yet Mr Chiu’s twisted and distorted narrative is blatantly false. Unfortunately, some now have parroted this false narrative without checking the record.

I was questioned by another witness as to whether I had ever been asked “to be loyal to Australia because you were born in Germany?” Numerous times throughout my life I have been asked this question. I am still questioned about it to this day especially by left-wing operatives.

Further on, in the Hansard I say:     

That is why, might I add, that in nearly every single interview that I do unequivocally condemning the Chinese Communist Party I stress that this is not a condemnation of the Chinese people—because I believe that they are just as freedom loving as every other human being on the planet—but that I am condemning the regime under which they suffer, just as much as not all Germans were Nazis, or all Russians communists, or all Italians part of the Mafioso or Vietnamese part of the triads. But, as German-born, can I say that I have no difficulty in unequivocally saying that the Nazi regime deserved to be condemned. I'm just concerned that some of our witnesses have great difficulty in condemning a regime that has been responsible for millions of deaths; incarceration of millions; forced organ harvesting; illegal land grabs; ripping up of an international—UN sanctioned, even—agreement between the UK and China in relation to Hong Kong; and the list goes on. I'm just concerned that in this great freedom-loving country of Australia, that has adopted all of us as part of its citizenry, we are unable to fully celebrate the great freedoms we have and to condemn some of the backgrounds from which we come—not courtesy of the people but courtesy of the ugly regimes that were inflicted over them.”

If Mr Chiu, a prominent Chinese-Australian from a “progressive” think tank and whose submission was made in consultation with China Matters, which “strives to advance sound China policy”, cannot bring himself to denounce a regime that continually and systematically commits human rights abuses, there is no hope for the Chinese diaspora in Australia to speak out.

This example of prominent Chinese-Australians not speaking out for the rest of the Chinese-Australian community was a direct point made in a confidential submission to the inquiry. They are afraid to speak out because of reprisals within their community and the possibility of family members back home being targeted by the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship. Chinese-Australians look for leadership by prominent Chinese-Australians but often receive meaningless platitudes instead.

For all the hot air from Mr Chiu at the hearing and his hit piece in the media, his limp platitudinous  statements are cold comfort for the Chinese-Australian diaspora, the millions of Uighers, and all the others, languishing in detention and oppressed.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

Read more

Contact

136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001
(primary office)

(03) 6224 3707

48 Cecilia Street
St Helens  TAS  7215
(satellite office)

(03) 6376 1972

Senator.Abetz@aph.gov.au

e-newsletter