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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1501


Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (16:26): Senator Waters raises her concerns about the Great Barrier Reef. I share her concerns about the Barrier Reef, but under no circumstances do I believe the reef is under threat. Last night the Minister for the Environment put forward plans so that some mining and natural gas facilities could go ahead. They were put forward under the most stringent conditions, where there is going to have to be a net benefit for water quality, $89 million will be contributed to support the health of the Barrier Reef through programs such as Reef Trust and there are 95 environmental conditions at Abbot Point and 53 at Curtis Island.

The problem with Senator Waters is that she lives with rose-tinted glasses. She does not recognise that jobs are created. We have just faced one of the most difficult situations in Australia, with the biggest icon in Australia announcing its closure today, affecting many thousands of jobs and the jobs hanging off it. I do not want to debate the rights and wrongs, who said what and who did this. The main point of my argument is that those jobs have to be replaced somewhere or people will not have the standard of living that they have been able to afford over the last 20 years.

The Arrow liquefied natural gas plant proposal is owned by Shell and PetroChina, it is going to cost $17.46 billion and there will be 3,715 construction jobs and 600 operational jobs. That is vast. That is so many jobs created. When we turn to the Adani project, we are looking at thousands more jobs that are going to open up in Bowen. Senator Waters says there are many people who have been opposing it and ringing up the minister's office complaining about the decision. Well, I can tell Senator Waters that the town of Bowen is absolutely rejoicing. They have had many failures in Bowen. When the abattoirs went, 1,500 jobs went.

Interestingly, I understand that the town's resident Green is complaining, while her husband and son work at Abbot Point.

Senator Waters interjecting

Senator BOSWELL: That is the information I have, that one of the greenies in Bowen is out there spruiking—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Bernardi ): Order! Senator Boswell, please resume your seat.

Senator Waters: Thanks, Mr Acting Deputy President, I have a point of order. Senator Boswell has reflected incorrectly and has made an assertion that I know is not correct. I ask him to withdraw that false allegation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Waters, I regret I did not hear what Senator Boswell said, but I will ask Senator Boswell to consider his remarks and explain them, or reflect on his remarks and perhaps advise the Senate accordingly.

Senator BOSWELL: What I said is factually true, as I understand it and as it has been related to me. There is a person in Bowen spruiking the Green agenda who, as explained to me, is a resident Green in Bowen, while her husband and son work at Abbot Point. I am not saying that there is anything wrong. I am not casting any aspersions against anyone. I am merely making a statement that has been related to me by residents of Bowen.

The $10 billion that GVK and Adani are going to proceed with is a railway line. Already they have said that they will put their facilities in Bowen and the people in Bowen are rejoicing about this. So not everyone, Senator Waters, is ringing the minister complaining.

In the last 12 months the town of Bowen has taken major hits with local businesses closing. The Bank of Queensland has shut its doors, two legal offices and three restaurants have closed, and newsagents have also shut their doors. In July, Bowen residents turned up in the town square to support the Abbot project.

What has happened of course is that the Labor Party dodged this. They would not make the decision. Tony Burke delayed the decision before the last election. Mark Butler also delayed the decision, and this has held up all these jobs that were going to be created. They were afraid of offending the Greens and the latte set in Melbourne and Sydney. But they do not stand up for the blue-collar workers that would get these jobs in Bowen and Collinsville and Abbot Point, and they are the people that the Labor Party are going to need to get them back into government. As long as they dodge the decisions and side with the Greens, then the blue-collar workers who have already made a decision are not going to support a government that cannot take a decision.

Of course these decisions are hard, and I congratulate Mr Hunt for making them. They are hard decisions and he is an environmentalist at heart, but he has made a decision that looks after both sections—the environment, putting on the most stringent conditions, and then recognising that Australia has to have jobs. There has never been a time in Australia's history that I can report, certainly in my time, when the need for creating jobs has been so predominant. As for these changed new conditions, they are not saying that the companies will put these growth-promoting jobs into the community, but that it is possible to do it. They have got to go through a lot further process. But the decision by Adani and by GVK is going to open up thousands of jobs—and I do not want to be accused of going over the top by saying hundreds of thousands of jobs, but certainly thousands of jobs. The Galilee Basin will be open and jobs will flow into the little towns of Jericho and places out there.

You cannot have wealth in this nation without earnings. Senator Waters believes in the Magic Pudding—you can have everything. I am sorry, Senator Waters, the world is not like that. Your party has, at every opportunity, attacked the coal-mining industry and this, I believe, is another attack. In March 2012 a document called Stopping the coal export boom: funding proposal for the Australian anti-coal mining movement became public. It was a prospectus for large-scale funding to shut down the Australian coal industry. The preparation of the document was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in the USA and endorsed by Greenpeace and a number of national environmental activists.

One of their prime strategies is to:

… ‘disrupt and delay’ key projects and infrastructure the while gradually eroding public and political support for the industry and continually building the power of the movement to win more.

That is exactly what you are doing today, and then you are claiming that this has great support.

I do acknowledge that it has some problems attached to it in professional fishing and amateur fishing. I do believe that there will need to be some offsets for those people. Maybe boat ramps and fishing tables and cleaning tables will have to be offered, and, if significant fishing grounds are going to be lost, then I think there will have to be offsets. Fishermen want to continue to fish. But if they cannot, they are realists. They recognise that they cannot stand in the way of $17 billion or hundreds of billions of dollars of projects that will provide many thousands of jobs. They understand that. But if they are to be removed or if their fishing grounds are to be removed or taken away from them or put out of limits, then there have to be more fishing grounds given to them to compensate for the loss. If that cannot be done, then they have to be compensated to get out of the industry. (Time expired)