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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5125


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (18:26): This place never ceases to fascinate me. I have great respect for the member for Paterson and have worked with him on other issues. But there is an onus upon you to do your homework; there really is. If he had done his homework he would have known that it was his party that destroyed the fishing industry of North Queensland. There were 2,000 jobs in my electorate that vanished—

Mr Baldwin: If you'd been here you'd have heard me say that.

Mr KATTER: I take back the implied criticism of the member for Paterson because I am very pleased to hear him say that. But the complete destruction of the fishing industry and the prawn and fish-farming industries was done by the LNP. A Nationals party member got up and said that all you are leaving us is 18 per cent of the North Queensland seas.

An opposition member interjecting

Mr KATTER: He said, 'a good Labor man'. I will tell you, my friend, that when I come into this place I represent the people of my electorate, and I could not care less whether it is the Labor Party or the Liberal Party. But you will have to stand and defend your party's decision to close two-thirds of the fishing industry of North Queensland and take 2,000 people's jobs out from under them. The minister might today be doing a little bit of fence building and face-saving before the election, but we will see how you vote when I move the resolution that it be cut back to one-quarter of its existing area. We will see how you vote. I welcome your support, but I doubt I will get it.

There were 7,000 people who turned up to the meetings. I heard the Liberal member advocating the closures, and the National Party member for Dawson had gone completely silent upon the issue. Before an election you were out there saying how terrible the Labor Party is. Unfortunately—and sadly for you, my friend the honourable member for Dawson—you will be judged upon the performance of your party, which closed the fishing industry of North Queensland. And not content with that, they proceeded to close the prawn and fish-farming industries.

I will stand by my record. The Courier-Mail, in a front-page article on me as the minister for northern development, said, 'Since you became the minister for northern development there has not been one single square inch of North Queensland declared a national park.' I said, 'Could you please put that on the front page of your newspaper and watch the ALP savage me over it!' Every time they savage me I hope and think that my fellow North Queenslanders will take a position and say, 'Good on you!' So I will stand on my record, my friend. But, unfortunately for you, you have to stand on the record of your party—and the record of your party smells to the high heavens.

And if someone is out performing—and I think that the federal government is performing on this issue, just grandstanding before an election—at the expense of my fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria and at the very great expense of the fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria, they have already done colossal damage to them. One of the remaining fishermen there has just said: 'I am going to throw the towel in, mate. If they don't get me now, they will get me later on.' He said this on the John McKenzie program in North Queensland.

We watched as Australia very proudly exported $300 million or $400 million of seafood product more than we imported. But thanks to the actions of the free marketeers and to the free-market policies of the two parties that dominate this parliament, and thanks to the closures of the Liberal Party—the Labor Party were not there but I am sure that they would have done it if they had been there; I do not have any illusions that the ALP would have done if they were there; but the Labor Party was not there and the Liberals were—they did the damage.

Let me just go back to the seafood figures. There are about $300 million more in exports and imports. I think this year it will be $200 million more imports and exports. You could draw a graph. You could talk to Alistair Dick, who is the leading authority probably in prawn farming in Australia. I rang Alistair and I said, 'I am looking at these figures from China on prawn farming and fish farming.' If you extrapolate them out—and the graph is almost vertical—then I would say that within about 40 years all of the world's protein will be coming from China. There will not be any moo-cows walking around or piggy-wiggies or chickens or anything like that. I am not saying that the graph will continue to be vertical, but at the present moment it is.

As a minister I was given great credit for founding that industry and most certainly we played a key role. Dr Joe Baker from the Institute of Marine Science and those great heroes—the Wardays, the Sharkers, Jimmy Riles, the Irwin Viadors—and many others were the people that risked their money and pioneered this industry and created for Australia some $600 million a year of income. Now I think that our prawn production is down to about $20 million and I cannot see the industry lasting much longer.

We have got to clean the water four times thanks to the environmentalists on both sides of this parliament. We have got to clean the water arguably four times, most certainly three times, before we put it back into the river system or into the sea. Whereas our competitor nations put raw sewage into the Yangtze River and all the other rivers up there. They just pump the water out of the river into the ponds and then dump it straight back in. We just simply cannot compete against that sort of practice.

All right, if you say that it is fair enough to impose those conditions upon Australian farmers, do not let the product in from the countries that are not measuring up to those environmental and health requirements. If you put raw sewage into water that goes into the ponds then you have a very high bacteria level and what you then have to do is to kill the bacteria. So you need a very high antibiotics regime. So the prawn and fish farming product coming in here is rife with bacteria and rife with antibiotics. But there is no labelling. It would be interesting to see whether the honourable members on my right will vote for the labelling laws. I will leave it to them to explain to the growers of Bundaberg and Bowen and all of those other areas why they are not voting for labelling laws. If you are going to let this product come in, at the very least you should be warning consumers that it is coming in and it has not been grown or processed under Australian conditions.

I applaud the LNP for moving this resolution. I applaud them but I have got to point out to the House the overwhelming hypocrisy of their actions as most of them were here when the marine parks were declared. They declared them. They voted for them. They created the marine parks. It is a weird situation.

A very good friend of mine, a very famous North Queenslander, was out with his grandson. He used to go out with his dad when he was young bloke—his dad migrated from Italy about 70 or 80 years ago—and they had been going out fishing there for nigh on 70 or 80 years. A helicopter came down and he waved to it, as he is a very friendly bloke—I do not think that he has ever got a parking ticket in his life. Then the helicopter took off and a police boat came out. He said good day to the police and asked whether they would like a stubby with him—a very friendly bloke—and they said, 'We are here to arrest you. You have gone into a green zone.' The green zones were created by the Liberal Party and the National Party.

Mr Entsch interjecting

Mr KATTER: No, you will cop it, my friend! It is your hypocrisy and you will sit there and you will cop it. You voted to impose upon North Queensland the closure of all of those areas.

Mr Entsch interjecting

Mr KATTER: You voted to impose that upon all of those areas.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Cheeseman ): Order, member for Leichardt! The member for Leichardt will stop interjecting!

Mr Entsch interjecting

Mr KATTER: I went along to every one of those meetings and did everything I could possibly humanly do. You voted for it. You are the architect of it. This gentleman over here from Leichardt making all the noise, the temporary member for Leichardt, and his party voted for it.

I want to go back to this gentleman. Let us call him Fred. The police boat came in and Fred waved and he offered the police a couple of beers and they said, 'No, we are here to arrest you.' This person came to see me. He was dreadfully upset. In all of their years in Australia—and his family had migrated many years before—no-one had ever been arrested before. He was left with a criminal conviction. We had enormous difficulty having the criminal conviction removed. I for one grovelled on my bended knees to the government and government officials on both sides of the parliament—it was a transition of government—to try and get the criminal charges removed and the criminal record expunged.

I will conclude on this note, Mr Deputy Speaker. I recommend to everyone to go along and see that wonderful movie of Russell Crowe's called Robin Hood. It is very historically correct. It is a rundown to the Magna Carta. I raced home and got out all my books on Magna Carta because I would bet London to a brick on that it would be in that great piece of architecture for our culture and our laws called the Great Charter—Magna Carta in Latin. Sure enough, there it was: the people have a right to sustenance from the land and the sea. The Crown has no right to take away their right to sustenance. Our right of sustenance was taken away from us on a massive scale by the Liberal Party and now today it is being taken away from us by the ALP. If members on my right, on the opposition benches, are in any way genuine, when we move the motion and divide the House to get the marine parks back to one quarter of their current size, I would expect that if they are consistent they will support that resolution of the parliament. I will deeply appreciate their support.

My family go back 130 or 140 years in North Queensland. For all of our history North Queenslanders have farmed those areas and there has been no diminution in the fish populations. There was never any evidence produced at any stage that there was diminishing of the fish populations. When you consider that the average fish has about 20,000 eggs it lays every year then you can realise that it is a bit silly to talk about some bloke going out there destroying the fish populations. So the argument was very spurious and the Liberal Party were playing to the environmental push and influences in their own party. The ALP were most certainly playing to those influences and under the puppet masters the Greens, which please God in the forthcoming election will be eliminated. They will be eliminated by my party.

Mr Entsch: Oh!

Mr KATTER: You laugh, which gives me an excuse to explain it, because these things are a bit complicated for you, I know. I will lay it down in the simplest terms. When we went in there we got 12 per cent of the vote; their vote dropped from 12 per cent to six per cent. My case rests. We are out there to destroy the Greens, let there be no doubt about that. Let me add that we will be determined that we will use the power given to us to cut back and give back to our boys the right to go fishing, camping, hunting and shooting, the right again to be boys, to give back to the people of Australia the freedoms that our forebears died for at Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede. They wrote down and they died for a principle that the land and the sea do not belong to the Crown, they belong to the people. (Time expired)