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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 2300

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:51): I thank Senator Abetz for drawing the attention of senators to this Auditor-General's report, which identifies yet another scandalous waste of money by the Labor Party government supported by the Greens political party. I note Senator Abetz's comments and I see on page 145 the reference to the Byron Shire Council, one of the few councils in Australia that is controlled by the Greens political party. It is no surprise to me that that council got a considerable grant for their cycling project. Can I declare an interest. I also cycle here in Canberra, in my hometown of Ayr and in Townsville. I have a cycle in each of those places, which I try to ride every morning. But I can be assured that we will never have to worry about money being spent in my hometown of Ayr, because the Labor government has no interest whatsoever in rural and regional Australia. There is no way in the world that there will ever be any grants for cycleways in most parts of rural and regional Australia.

I am concerned about the Greens and the Labor Party and that the financial mismanagement we see highlighted again here in this Auditor-General's report will be repeated should the Labor Party again win government in Queensland. We know the Greens have entered into another unholy alliance with the Labor Party in Queensland, and I think Mr Katter's party as well will be helping the Labor Party to be returned to office in Queensland. Certainly the Greens have done some dirty deals for preferences, and, again, it is a pay-off for things like the wild rivers legislation, which the Labor Party introduced at the request of the Greens. The payoff was Greens preferences; in this case, Greens preferences in the electorate of Ashgrove.

In passing, I note that there are two Greens candidates in Queensland who will not be bullied by the head office of the Greens and have refused point-blank to distribute preferences in the Queensland state election. Whilst the candidate in the electorate of Townsville, Jenny Stirling, and I do not agree on much, I admire her principle in refusing to take orders from headquarters about the allocation of preferences to the Labor Party. Congratulations to her. That is a rarity, I might say. You have only to see the leader of the Greens political party in this chamber to know that those ideas of principle and honesty are never close at hand in this area.

I draw the Senate's attention to page 127 of the Auditor General's report. He says:

… the processes used to select the successful applications for bike paths component funding unnecessarily departed from the published program guidelines, particularly with respect to the decision not to limit funding to only those applications that had been assessed as meeting unemployment gateway criterion.

The Auditor-General goes on to clearly point out:

… the distribution of funding would have predominantly favoured projects in electorates held by the Australian Labor Party. Specifically:

76 per cent of such projects were located in an electorate held by the Australian Labor Party, involving more than 81 per cent of funding being sought in respect to such projects …

I think this report does indicate yet again that there is a preference indicated by the government going to electorates held by the Australian Labor Party.

Could I also show, as part of Labor's mismanagement, for which Labor is renowned, that this was supposed to be a stimulus program. The global financial crisis was three or four years ago now. The stimulus was meant to create jobs then, but we find again that with the typical mismanagement of the Labor Party the money is still being dribbled out now, two or three years after the time that that stimulus program was supposed to create job creation. This confirms my concern for my state of Queensland. Labor and financial management just do not go together in the same breath. I keep reminding the Senate that Queensland—a very, very wealthy state, with its fabulous agricultural output and its very wealthy mines—has lost its triple-A credit rating under the Labor government in Queensland and, if the Greens, with their influence on the Labor Party, have their way, Queensland will go further into debt.

I note with interest a funding proposal for an Australian anticoal movement put out by John Hepburn from Greenpeace Australia Pacific, from Bob Burton from a group called Coalswarm and from Sam Hardy from the Graeme Wood Foundation. We know all about Mr Graeme Wood. Mr Graeme Wood is the man who gave Australia's biggest political donation ever—$1.6 million—to the Australian Greens. There have been allegations made in this place—I would not make them, of course—that this was simply cash for comment.

Senator Siewert: Madam Acting Deputy President, on a point of order: Senator Macdonald keeps repeating these allegations, despite the fact that the Privileges Committee has reported on this. In saying he would not make the allegations, of course we all know he is making them. I ask you to ask him to please not repeat the allegations, even though he says he is not repeating them.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Fisher ): Thank you, Senator Siewert; there is no point of order.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I understand the Privileges Committee report—all of us here know what the Privileges Committee can and cannot do. But allegations have been made and methinks that perhaps it is not the Privileges Committee that should be investigating these things but perhaps the police. That would be something that I think should be more closely pursued.

As I was saying, this funding proposal for the anticoal movement is a typical Greenpeace-Greens blueprint for how you destroy Australia. It has happened in the timber industry and it has happened in the forestry industry, and here is the blueprint. It tells how you can make it happen in the coal industry. The strategy is all set out there for anyone to see: disrupt and delay key infrastructure, constrain the space for mining, increase investor risk, increase cost, withdraw social licence, build a powerful movement. And so it goes on, chapter and verse in fine detail, as to how you can destroy an industry and destroy Australia. It is this political party, supported by these same groups, that is supporting the Queensland government on Saturday and wanting the Queensland government to get back into power. We have seen the price of that in Queensland—shut down Cape York and shut down western Queensland. It does not matter to the latte sippers in the leafy suburbs of Brisbane if people in the north, who make their livelihoods out of that country, are dispossessed; it does not matter if Indigenous people in Cape York and western Queensland are dispossessed; it does not matter if those of us in rural Australia and regional Queensland who rely on farming and mining are dispossessed—because the Greens want to lock more and more places away. Don't worry about that! The Greens, who generally live in the leafy suburbs of Brisbane, do not care, as long as it does not worry them. Shut down the means of production! This document I refer to—partly funded it seems again by Mr Graeme Wood—about stopping the coal export boom is a cracker. I would urge everyone to have a look at that and understand how the radical green movement, supported by the Greens political party, works in this area.

This report of the Auditor-General on the mismanagement of the bike paths component of the local jobs stream of the Jobs Fund should be compulsory reading for any voter before they go to vote in any election anywhere. They will see yet again that you simply cannot trust the Labor Party and their Green mates with money. They are incompetent, have no financial understanding and just waste taxpayers' money. (Time expired) I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted.