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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5587

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (10:02): The burning question for productive Australia—certainly agriculture but manufacturing probably even more so and tourism even more so again—is interest rates. Our interest rates are wildly out of step with the rest of the world. I keep being accused, with my non-free-trade viewpoint, of being out of step and ridiculous. The only place I am out of step is in this chamber, in this parliament. This is the only place I am out of step. The rest of Australia agrees with me. Eighty per cent of Australians continually say that they would be prepared to pay a few bob more for whatever they are buying to protect and create Australian jobs. Interest rates are a classic example. Europeans are on one per cent; Japanese and Americans, last time I looked, were on 0.1 per cent; and Australia is on over 4½ per cent. Where are you going to park your money? Of course you are going to park your money in Australia, where you get 4½ per cent. You are not going to park it in Europe, where you get only one per cent interest. And also, we have got an appreciating dollar under this regime. So there are two reasons to park your money here.

It is a self-reinforcing mechanism which has pushed the dollar up. In Mr Costello's second year in office, the dollar was at 52c. The dollar is averaging more than 100c now. Mr Costello can take most of the blame for that, but the Labor Party can most certainly take their part of the blame. They are in office, they should be doing something about it, and they are not. Having said that, we praise the Treasurer because he said that the interest rates coming down is good. I think there was pressure from the Treasurer to bring them down half a per cent. But they are still four per cent above the rest of the world—most certainly 3½ per cent. They are 300 times higher than they are in the rest of the world. So, if you invest your money here, you get 300 per cent more money than if you invest your money there—if the dollar comes down. When the dollar rose under Mr Costello from 52c to 90c, the income for my cattlemen halved and the income for my miners halved. And we closed down mines. We closed down mines; Kagara zinc mine is closed at the present moment—a great company.

We plead with the government to take the bit between their teeth and do the sensible thing that every other government on earth is doing. I am telling you that, with the Europeans moving to an increase in money supply, money will drain out of Australia, interest will drain out of Australia, their industries will surge forward and ours will continue to die.

Let me be very specific. As I get up to speak today it looks like this year we will have 82 per cent of motor vehicles in Australia come in from overseas. Mr Keating started this stupidity—and I can remember vividly hearing him on the radio when I crawled out of bed one morning; he said, 'We will be the freest economy on earth.' I thought: 'This imbecile. Are we going to go to Chinese wages or are we going to import all our jobs to China?' Those are the only two possibilities if you move to a free market.

No-one else in the world moved to a free market. The only two countries on earth that have a free market are Australia and New Zealand—and, if you want to include a third country, it would actually be Canada. One cannot help but believe that the colonial spot marks are showing. Why would these two—arguably three—countries be the only three countries on earth that move to free trade?

Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, you are well aware that we cannot get a pound of beef into Europe. We were allowed technically 6,000 tonne but we cannot even meet the requirements for 6,000 tonne. To put that in perspective for other people here: America takes 400,000 tonne a year, and they are one-half or one-third the size of Europe. What a joke. We cannot sell beef to Europe. We cannot sell a pound of beef to China. These are the two biggest economies on earth, and we cannot sell a pound of beef to either of them. So much for free trade.

When Mr Keating made his wonderful statement that we were going to become a 'free economy', over 72 per cent of the motor vehicles in Australia were Australian made. This year, 82 per cent of them were imported from overseas. We all know that within 10 years there will be no motor vehicle industry in this country. We cannot build a tyre in this country. We cannot build an electric motor in this country. We will not be able to build a motor car in this country. We will be a Third World technology country.

As for agriculture, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would be well aware that the Fin Review and the Sydney Morning Herald have said loud and clear—this place has not listened to them—that within three years this country will be a net importer of food. It will not be able to feed itself. We are a net importer of fruit and vegetables now. Three years ago we were an exporter of seafood. This year 80 per cent, it would appear, of our seafood will be imported from overseas. We are a net importer of pork. But soon overall we will be a net importer of food. We live in a country that cannot feed itself.

So, to that silly fella that led a party—which I am ashamed to say that I was once a member of—who walked around with his hat turned down and said, 'We will be the food bowl of Asia,' I say: listen, you fool; we are going to be the begging bowl of Asia. All this country now has, as a result of the policies of this place, is an iron ore quarry and a coal quarry. That is all it has.

I predict the new government, the LNP government in Queensland, will be the worst government in Queensland history, because they have the terrible combination of arrogance and no vision, perspective or intelligence. They have already announced that the Galilee Basin—half of our entire coal reserves in Queensland—will be mined by people from overseas. Thanks to the policies of this place, all six of our great mining companies are now all foreign owned. They were all Australian owned 15 years ago. Now they are all foreign owned. Thanks to this place, we allowed every one of them to be sold overseas.

We do not own the resource. The resource is owned by China, China and India. Those are the three groups of people that own the resources. We are not going to get any profits out of it. We are not going to get any wages out of it. What the hell will we get out of it? All the machinery and equipment comes from overseas in mining. We do not produce any machinery or equipment for mining in Australia. So what do we get out of it? We get a hole in the ground; that is what we get out of it.

But a grubby little government like the outgoing ALP government was grasping for some taxation out of it. The grubby little government that has come in, that cannot see around the doorstop, just want to get some taxes out of it and look after their corporate friends. Who are the front men for the two Chinese areas that are owned? The front men are Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer. Who owns the LNP? Clive Palmer. Surprise, surprise.

If you are a Chinese person, you say: 'Well, hold on a minute. Our boys back home are getting paid $5,000 a year'—that is the average weekly earnings in China. 'What are we going to pay your people? $160,000 a year?' Fair damn go. I mean, naturally, Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and the Indians, the Adani Group that own the top of it, are going to say: 'Hold on a minute. We are going to fly our people in from overseas. None of this paying you Australians $160,000 while our people back home are being paid $5,000. No more of that.'

We do want to thank the government very sincerely for the $350 million which is still in there for the transmission line. Governments throughout Queensland's history gave us railway lines and ports. The great Theodore governments up to the 1950s, and they were Theodore governments, gave us railway lines and ports. The government built the railway lines and ports and made absolutely unconscionable amounts of money out of it. The great Bejelke-Petersen government created the coal industry and the aluminium industry in Australia. They built the power station for the aluminium industry. They built the railway line for the coal industry. That is why we have a coal industry and an aluminium industry here today. So we thank the government for that $350 million for that transmission line. But, if you give us that transmission line to send coal into the Galilee Basin, you can use that railway line to sell coal. Have the courage to say: 'No, we will not fly in 40,000 workers from overseas. Those jobs are for Australians.' Yes, you might have to pay an extra $10,000 and, yes, you may not be allowed to kick the workers around. God bless the CFMEU. I stand 1,000 per cent behind the CFMEU and their stand against fly-in mining—and that is in Australia.

I will be out there at every rally and stop-work meeting that the CFMEU have, because, if they are turning it on for fly-in mining in Australia, what are they are going to turn on when the LNP government in Queensland attempts to fly workers in from overseas? I leave it to your imagination. We have a proud history of industrial force in Queensland and we will not be resiling from that position, I can tell you.

If you give that to us and we get those wages out of the coalmines, then we will give back to Australia $75,000 million a year from the Galilee Basin. My homeland is the richest mineral province on earth, with vast uranium, phosphate and iron ore deposits. If you give us a little canal, about 150 kilometres—that is all; most countries have tens and hundreds of thousands of kilometres of canals—so we can get out through the gulf instead of coming all the way back through Townsville, particularly for phosphate and iron ore, then we will gift to Australia an extra $15,000 million a year. That is $90,000 million a year, nearly $100,000 million, into an economy of $1,000 million a year. e will increase your GDP just in the income from those ore and coal reserves by $100 million a year. That is what we will give back to Australia.

We have a commitment from the federal government—$350 million on that transmission line, but the LNP government has knocked the transmission line on the head. They have already announced that they are going to fly the miners in from overseas; they are not going to give you any infrastructure to open up your resources and this is all in two months! They have announced they are tightening the gun laws and, effectively, strangely enough they have announced that they are going to do nothing about flying foxes as well, which of course is the burning question in the state of Queensland.

If we get a government that builds things—a nation-building government—which we have not seen for 30 years in this country; not since Doug Anthony, one of the greatest figures of stature in this country's history. When he left the stage we had no one. When Bjelke-Petersen left the stage we had no one. And to our eternal shame, Ted Theodore is remembered for the Mungana scandal and the Bjelke-Petersen government is remembered for silly, stupid rubbish: there was not a single, solitary minister went to jail for corruption—they went for misuse of their parliamentary expenditure. Be careful, everybody, because what it was for was using their cars for private purposes. That is what the four ministers went to jail for in Queensland—so much corruption!

But these great builders like Theodore and Bjelke-Petersen—I plead, Mr Deputy Speaker, for people to read my book where you will see it in detail and flashing neon lights. Those who may have been brought up in the Labor tradition will walk with very great pride. It is only $39, too, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Ms Saffin: Is it in the library here?

Mr KATTER: Yes. But the details of what those successive Queensland governments did to hand to their nation the coal industry, the base metals industry and the aluminium industry are in there, and I named the chapter, 'Walking with giants'. Probably Les Thiess was the greatest of them.

We can build again, but we need money from the budget. We thank the government for the $350 million but the government must do a lot more because there will be no enlightened government coming out of Queensland. The one project that was needed for nation building they knocked on the head.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! Before I call the parliamentary secretary I will just remind members once again. I was reluctant to pull up the honourable member for Kennedy for the use of the word 'you', the word 'you' referring to the occupier of this chair. It is a reflection on the chair. I have reminded him of that and also other members on both sides of this House before. Next time I will interrupt, and I am sure that members do not want to be interrupted in their precious time of speaking in this chamber or in the main chamber. I just ask members to remember that when they use the word 'you' they are pointing directly to the occupier of the chair, and it is a reflection on the chair. Refer to 'the member' or to 'the government' or other bodies but do not use the word 'you will'. It is a habit that has crept in that I have observed as an occupier of the chair.

Mr Katter: Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I have great respect and friendship for you, and I would never, ever put you in the category of the contempt in which I hold many other members.