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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4

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Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (12:22): We view with considerable apprehension the proposal being brought forward today. The Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia has the reputation—and, I think, a well-earned reputation—for being open minded as well as a man of action, and he has been given a very short time frame in which to get something done. But both the ALP and the LNP have no understanding that we do not want to hear what they are 'going to do'. When I was in a government that won every single election for, I think, 35 years, we did not go to an election saying what we were going to do, because that is an advertisement against you The immediate question, then, that leaps to people's minds—and I said this many times in the Queensland cabinet—is: 'Why haven't you done it? You've been there for three years, and you've been there for 14 of the last 20 years; why haven't you done it? You've had all this time and now you tell us you're going to do it next time.' Well, 'going to do it' is not good enough. We will be having a great picnic, please God, at the expense of the majors and saying just what I am saying here. I am not in the business of playing political games. I am in the business of reality.

The reality is that we were promised $500 million for water and we have not got one cent for one single project. Of the projects that the minister for water—and I am not knocking him, because he is one of the better guys over there—named for North Queensland, one is extremely detrimental to economic development and the other is the Ord, stages 2 and 3. I will not say anything against the last speaker, the member for Perth, or the positive remarks that she was making, but as a person at a distance I say the Ord River stages 2 and 3 will easily be the biggest farming operation in Australia, and it will be foreign owned. The biggest farming operation in Australia at the moment is Tasman Farms; it is foreign owned. The third biggest operation in Australia is Cubbie Station; it is foreign owned. What the hell do we own? If you want to know where is the money is, $23 billion of superannuation money is shipped overseas and put into the roulette wheel of the American stock market. That is a wonderful use of our money! If people knew where their superannuation was going, they would lie awake at night in a cold sweat.

Before the age of 'marketisation', as the wonderful Billy Wentworth, one of my great heroes, used to call it—before free markets, market fundamentalism, globalisation, whatever words you want to use; we all know it means economic rationalisation—occurred, 60 per cent of all superannuation moneys went into government securities, and, heavens, isn't that where it should go? If I put money away for my retirement, if the government is taking it off me and off my employer, shouldn't I get some sort of guarantee that it is going to be there when I retire? If you think that investment in the Australian stock market or, even worse, the American stock market is a good, safe employment of my moneys, then I do not think you know very much about economic history, recent or past. It is appalling to think that this money is at huge risk.

So, in the past, that money went into government securities and bonds. From the government securities, it built all of the rail system into the coal industry of Queensland, which up to three years ago carried the nation's economy on its back. Queensland coal was far and away the biggest export item, something like four times bigger than its nearest rival, with the exception of iron ore. How was the coal industry created? Where did it come from? Did it just drop out of the air? In 1960, I think it was, we were a coal-importing nation. How did we suddenly become a coal-exporting nation? (Extension of time granted)How did the coal industry, which carried this nation on its back for 50 years, happen? It happened because the money was there in the superannuation funds, and that money, with a government guarantee, was spent on building rail lines into the coalfields. We build 6,000 kilometres of railway line, at a cost of about $1 million a kilometre—and that is in dollars at the time, not dollars now, so maybe you would treble that to almost $20 million.

The great Sir Leo Hielscher—of the four biggest bridges in Australia, two of them are named after Leo Hielscher—was offered the head position at the Reserve Bank three times and at the World Bank once. He was maybe the most frugal, penny-pinching treasurer in Australian history. If you were a minister in those days, you would not even think about getting an increase in your outlays, I can assure you! But he said there was never any danger. We knew the markets were there. We knew the economics of producing the coal. All we needed was a railway line and a port, and we could get the coal out.

For the last 25 years, I have not known of a developmental project financed by the government anywhere in Australia. When the Liberals announced a $12,000 billion infrastructure package to boost the Australian economy, it was roads and rail in the city. As our little party says all the time: what do you get for a $5,000 million tunnel in Brisbane? And the ALP was skiting about this. They said for a $3½ million rail across the river, in Brisbane, you would get a 15-minute saving for the commuter, so he gets home 15 minutes early to watch the television. A few thousand people in Brisbane get home 15 minutes early to watch the television!

The LNP proposed, last year, that they were going to build a $5,000 million tunnel—which would make Brisbane the most tunnelled city in the world. To quote the great economist John Quiggin : 'If there is one thing that characterises recent Queensland governments, it is tunnel vision.' It is a beautiful phrase. Queensland would have 21 kilometres of tunnels and Sydney would only have 14 kilometres of tunnels.

If that $5,000 million were given to Minister Frydenberg and used to build a railway line into the Galilee, I would give you $4,000 million a year in revenue for the Australian people. I would give you 20,000 jobs, for the next hundred years, if it were used on the Hells Gate Dam and the Upper Herbert River proposals, which are almost identical but just further north. If that $5,000 million were used for those three projects—the two water projects have an income of $4,000 million a year. That is 40,000 jobs forever. The wonderful initiatives taken by our miners, along the Northern Territory border, for getting our phosphate out with a canal would give you $4,000 million a year and 40,000 jobs for the next hundred years. It would be similar with the silicon.

If you give us $7,000 million over a period—I think we can do it with guaranteed loans but maybe we can't—Minister—through the chair—if we can be provided with $5,000 million I most certainly can give you the canal and the phosphate for $4,000 million. I most certainly can give you the Upper Herbert River proposals and Hells Gate proposals and the Galilee coal— (Time expired)