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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2513


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (15:16): Being a little bit more senior than most people in this room, I can remember the days when Australia was a coal-importing nation. Very few people know that in 1959 Australia was a coal-importing nation not a coal-exporting nation. Now, how did we go from being a coal-importing nation to being a coal-exporting nation? In Queensland, we, the Country Party government, were not a government that said, 'Oh, if private enterprise wants it, then private enterprise will build it.' We were not a government that said, 'When you've got the mines, we'll build the railway line'—the chicken and the egg. The mines said, 'We're not going to open the mines until you've got a railway line.' We didn't worry about the chicken and the egg; we didn't worry about this concept that said if private enterprise wants it private enterprise will build it. No, we went out and built the railway lines. In a 29-year period, we built 6,000 kilometres of railway line. Under the ALP government in the following 28 years there was no railway line built—none, zero.

We have to ask ourselves: who is the socialist government here and who is the free enterprise government? Using traditional definitions, one would have to say that the Country Party is the socialist government and, of course, the Labor Party is some other sort of government—and there is no doubt that in Queensland they are a Greens government. There is not the slightest scintilla of evidence that would indicate that they are a Labor government. Over their 50 years in office, the Labor governments of Queensland, under the great 'Red Ted' Theodore and his governments, built the sugar mills and the dairy factories. Actually, the Queensland government built some of the mines as well.

Let us move on and ask: if you want the Galilee opened up, why do you want the Galilee opened up?

Mr Keogh: I don't know why; tell us!

Mr KATTER: This gentleman here said, 'I don't know. Why?' That is actually an excellent comment, because in this place you seriously don't know why. I'll tell you. With your free market policies, you decided that you would have no manufacturing in this country, that you would slowly crush agriculture out of existence and that you would buy everything from overseas. Those of us sitting in suits in this place are in apparel that now comes from overseas. We wear boots the leather for which comes from overseas. We have a telephone that comes from overseas. Our biros come from overseas. Our glasses come from overseas. Everything comes from overseas. I say to the honourable gentleman: if you want to buy all your white goods, all your petrol, all your motor cars and everything else from overseas, well, you've got to sell something. Thanks to you free marketeers, we don't have anything that we can sell! There is nothing left that this country can sell! And don't tell me there's mining. I've been mining since I was a kid; I was raised and teethed on mining. I'm a mining man and I will be until the day that I die, so don't tell me about mining. We are not a mining country. A mine is when you dig it out of the ground and sell a metal. We dig it out of the ground and sell the ground. That is quarrying. It's not mining; it's quarrying. We're reduced now to two quarries.

Let me be very specific: the income to this nation is supposedly $364 billion a year. If you take out the derivatives and the round robins, which were only put in four years ago—namely, the selling of student visas and the selling of coal seam gas—yes, it brings in $23 billion, but, thanks to idiocy of the people in Queensland and the people in this place, it just boomerangs out again. There's no wage structure in coal seam gas. We sold it for 6c a gigajoule and we're buying it back for $16 a gigajoule. That's a free market! It's a free market run by numbskulls!

I reeled off in question time today how the free marketeers decided to deregulate the wool industry, the biggest income item for this country in its entire history. In the year it was deregulated it was still the biggest export earner at $6,000 million, $16 billion a year in today's money, and now it's gone; gas—$23 billion gone; the motor vehicle industry—$21 billion gone; petrol, no ethanol—$19 billion gone; the Galilee coal rail line, worth $12 billion a year to the Australian economy—no Galilee rail line. That's $91 billion a year that this government is losing because of free market policies.

I praise the government fulsomely on their aggression with respect to the Galilee. But I've got to say to them: are you fair dinkum? If you were fair dinkum, you'd set up an authority tomorrow to build the railway line instead of some poor beggar from overseas desperately trying to build it and being the target of everyone in the world who, for one reason or another, wants to close down the coal industry.

I happen to a be a bit of an expert in this field, because I was the mines and energy minister in the Queensland government in 1990 when we had the cheapest electricity in the world. How did we do that? We didn't have private enterprise build the power station; we built the power station. It was manned by about 160 to 200 workers, exactly the same manning level as the Collinsville power station. Collinsville put out 200 megawatts, and Gladstone, which was the biggest power station in the world, was putting out 1,400 megawatts with the same manning levels, because the coal was free—but whenever there's a free market government it's the opposite. We took one per cent of the coal, so consumers in Queensland got their electricity from free coal. That's a government that is doing its job. So, we commend the government for their aggression on the Galilee, but, please: will you get fair dinkum and set up an authority to build the railway line instead of asking some poor beggar from overseas to struggle in a situation where it is very difficult for any of us to see how he's ever going to be able to build the railway line?

Let me turn to the ALP. There is no doubt that the government is 100 per cent right on this: the ALP are singing one tune in North Queensland and they are singing an entirely different tune in Brisbane. We all know Jackie Trad runs the government, and we all know that she scraped in by two per cent ahead of the Greens. Well, it's a pity that some in the ALP didn't take a page out of Mr Albanese's book, because, when he was trailing by two per cent, he went after the Greens. Slap! He bashed them and bashed them and bashed them.

Similarly, I use the example of Mr Latham going down to Tasmania and announcing he was going to save the trees and beggar the workers—well, he said he was going to look after them, but everyone knew that was a lie. It is a little known fact of history that John Howard was going down to say exactly the same thing. Some very sensible people got hold of John Howard and talked sense into him. When he went down there, he announced that he was going to save the jobs and not the trees. The much-maligned head of the CFMEU in Australia, Michael O'Connor himself, the current president of the CFMEU, held up John Howard's arm and said, 'I direct every genuine Labor man in this country to vote for the Liberal Party.' And, of course, the polls switched 6½ per cent. Latham lost 2½ per cent when he went down there appeasing the Greens. When Howard said, 'I've really got to look after jobs—these are human beings,' he leapt up 4½ per cent and comfortably won the election.

So, if for no other reason than your own political survival—and, as the member for Dawson will endorse, this election is about North Queensland—there are seven marginal seats up for grabs. If the Labor Party—the CFMEU have told them very, very clearly, 'If you persist with opposing this rail line then you are going to be annihilated'— (Time expired)