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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2387


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (19:55): That was a rather curious speech. It reminded me that we have put a lot of pressure on the Leader of the Opposition. I do not wish to disparage him on this; I wish to congratulate him. I think it is an excellent move but it should have been brought on before the Greens captured control of the Senate. If it had been brought on then we could have got it through. Well, I am sorry but your side of the House did not bring it on. It should have been put in the Senate then and I pleaded with you people to do that. I do not want to be critical, I must emphasise—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Kennedy will direct his remarks through the Chair.

Mr KATTER: Mr Speaker, I do not wish in any way to disparage the Leader of the Opposition on this. I think his actions have been laudable but I must make mention of the fact that it was available to you people to bring it on before and it could have got through. Now you are very anxious to get it put through and you know you cannot get it through. Excuse me for saying, there might be a little bit of hypocrisy involved here in an issue that is of immense value and importance to my particular area.

The SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member should withdraw the term 'hypocrisy' with respect to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr KATTER: I withdraw, Mr Speaker. Moving on to what I would like to speak about this evening, over many occasions I have drawn the attention of the House to the fact that more than half of Australia's entire water run-off is in the Kennedy electorate. I have pointed out on numerous occasions that the northern third of Australia has 304 million megalitres of water run-off and there are only 83 million megalitres in the southern two-thirds, which include little, narrow coastal streams that are of no use to anyone with the exception of the Murray-Darling Basin.

It is extraordinary that the government of Australia continues to try to run agriculture where there is no water and do no agricultural development where there is water. Yet, that has been the way it is. Years ago the Queensland government—God bless them—was building a dam every two years. They got up to Emerald and Ayr and the government fell at the end of 1989. The new government that came in never built a dam. The LNP state government that came in never built a dam. The LNP government that was here federally for 12 years never built a dam. The ALP state government that is there now in its years in office has never built a dam either.

In a country that is closing down part of the Murray-Darling because there is no water and cutting back on our agricultural production, would it not have been logical to proceed with some dam proposal in Northern Australia? But in 12 years the LNP never built a dam in this country—never attempted to—despite the great energies and exertions of Senator Bill Heffernan, who gave his first speech in this parliament along those lines.

If an Australia Party government is elected in Queensland—please God, it will be—it will immediately introduce ethanol into that state. That will fix up the grains, the cattle and the sugar industries. More importantly for all of the people of Queensland, it will lower the price of electricity and lower the price of petrol. I filled up in the United States at 84c a litre, I filled up at Sao Paulo at 74c, and I came back to Australia and filled up at 139c a litre. What a wonderful vista this would open up—some 10,000 jobs and dams at Georgetown, at the back of Mareeba, west or north of Charters Towers, north of Townsville. If properly done, those dams would almost double Australia's agricultural production potential. We have to have something we can make a quid out of and for that we need ethanol.

There was a failure to build any infrastructure in those 12 years and a failure by this state government up to date. But I cannot criticise them because they have been very strongly committed to transmission lines to bring electricity to north-west Queensland. Of the vast mineral resources there, 33 projects cannot go ahead because they do not have electricity. If those projects did have electricity and a short canal into the Gulf of Carpentaria they would be able to produce for this country an extra $12,000 million a year. Would that not be a wonderful thing to happen to our country, to provide jobs when people are desperate for jobs, particularly some of our first Australian people who are concentrated in those areas and prevented from any development by the Wild Rivers? That is a disgrace and a reflection upon every person associated with it. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Order! It being after 8 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 20:01