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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1932


Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaChief Nationals Whip) (11:41): Central Queensland is a vital cog in the machine that is the national economy. It is home to a range of national industrial capitals: Rockhampton, the undisputed beef capital of Australia; Blackwater and Moranbah, the coal capitals; and Gladstone, the energy capital of Australia. Living in such close proximity to and being responsible for those who work within these industries gives one a particularly privileged and detailed understanding of the industries that, quite literally, keep the lights on and the wheels turning.

I always enjoy my trips to Canberra because I get to witness some of the greatest acts of hypocrisy one could imagine! For those opposite to have the audacity to, in almost the same breath, cry for greater funding for health and education while downplaying and outright lambasting projects like the Carmichael mine is unbelievable. As they don't really understand, I'll explain it for them. The budget of your beloved Labor government in Queensland lives and dies by coal royalties. Just last year, the Queensland Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, recorded a budget surplus because of coal royalties boosting it to $3 billion. The Queensland government is dependent on mining royalties to keep its record-breaking program of hiring public servants going. Without said royalties, it would be forced to face the dire consequences of its drunken-sailor spending spree.

But don't get too down in the dumps. We do have coalmining and we do have royalties—thus, the budget is saved. In Central Queensland, we have two major coal basins: the Bowen Basin in the east and, tucked behind it to the west, the Galilee Basin. The natural resources within these basins are immense and provide enormous benefit to the state and national economies and to government budgets. The Bowen Basin is a household name in Queensland, as it should be throughout the rest of the country. The coal seams of the Bowen Basin provide for thousands of direct jobs and billions of dollars in gross domestic product. These coal seams are more than that to me, though; they are the basis for thousands of families and dozens of small communities across the region. These coal seams do not just create some carbon-emitting hole in the ground; they create a home for so many Central Queenslanders.

When it comes to important items like national security, foreign aid and natural disaster recovery, we will tie ourselves in knots and abandon internal ideologies to ensure a bipartisan approach, because these things are considered important. Why is it, though, we can't prioritise economic advantage for rural Australians? As a National and a passionate regional member, I've seen firsthand just how much can be achieved by pulling appropriate levers to unlock the economic potential of people in the bush: the real battlers, the men and women of the weatherboard and iron. Why is it that we cannot prioritise bipartisan support for these people and their lives?

Right now, we see a project in the west of my electorate that is being torn apart by policy uncertainty. The Adani Carmichael mine project has suffered at the hands of policy redirection, particularly, most recently, with the Labor state government deciding to veto a NAIF loan that they applied for. We now have the federal opposition leader gallivanting around the countryside undermining one of this country's great economic development opportunities just to try win a few extra votes in the Batman by-election. I have a message for the sellouts opposite: get on board and help us provide some certainty and hope to the men and women of rural Queensland, people who just want to get themselves and their families ahead and to give their kids a better, more prosperous future than they themselves enjoy—people who the Labor Party used to be about. These are the people who want to get a chance at a better life through the development of the Galilee Basin. These are the people we should be fighting for by not pillorying a project that has all of the approvals it requires—more than any mine in our history—and is already employing hundreds of Central Queenslanders for preliminary works.

I say to those opposite: go to towns like Clermont and Alpha, where the project is already having a positive effect, and tell them that they don't deserve a job. Tell them, while you sip on your coal-powered soy latte, that their jobs are somehow immoral and must end. I know that you won't, because you know that to do so would be hugely offensive. Continuing the same line in parliament or in Batman is no different. If you don't have the guts to say it to their faces, don't say it in this place. Bipartisanship is reserved for important issues. What could be more important than the economic development of our region? I will keep fighting for them, and I hope that some of those opposite can join me in fighting to give these people a real chance. (Time expired)