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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4290


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (12:56): It always amazes me in my years in politics, particularly over recent years, when speakers get up and say, 'We have to get rid of this terrible government.' During the last state election campaign, I asked over 4,000 people at various meetings or talking to two or three people in the street: 'Why? What will change? In Queensland, what will change?' And I say to you: if you change governments from the ALP to the Liberal Party, what will change? In this country, what will change?

I think the first thing you would say, if you were intelligent—I do not know whether you are—is the carbon tax. I would say that the carbon tax was not announced by the ALP; it was announced by the Liberal Party. John Howard said there would be an emissions trading scheme that was fully operational by 2012, and the person standing beside him when he said it was Malcolm Turnbull. The minute you got out of office you immediately became anti carbon tax. When you get back in, please excuse me for thinking you might be back on the other side of the fence. But all I can say to you is that I asked—

Mr Craig Kelly: I've got 20 bucks on that.

Mr KATTER: I will remember that. I am not putting 20 bucks on it because I would not trust people to do anything.

Mr Craig Kelly: I'll make it $100.

Mr KATTER: I will take that interjection. The honourable member said that he will pay $100 if they do not abolish the carbon tax, and I will nominate the charity to which he can donate it.

I asked 4,000 people what would change. They were not our supporters; this was just at meetings at the chambers of commerce or public meetings. Out of 4,000 people only four people said that anything would change. Most of them burst out laughing when I asked them what would change. It was a good idea to get rid of the Labor government in Queensland; there is no doubt about that. But what will change? Why do you change it? Nothing is going to change.

One said it as a question: 'Would we get better economic management?' The other two said we would get better economic management. The fourth one said there would be an expectation that things would get better and that there would be an environment of investment that would come in Queensland. I said, 'For how long?' and he burst out laughing. Those who have been around with me can verify what was said. But there are no fundamental differences between that side and the other side. If there are, you can tell me about them when you get up to speak because I will be interested and fascinated to know what they are. But do not start on the carbon tax, because you blokes in opposition announced the carbon tax, not this mob. It is a disaster for this country—let there be no question about that.

The ultimate consequence for a race of people is that they simply eliminate themselves from the gene pool; that they simply cease to exist as a race of people. I am among the first of the baby boomers; I was born in 1945. Statistically, I will die in 10 years time. I will be dead. All of the baby boomers will die in 10 years time. In 10 years time, when that occurs, there will be more deaths in this country than births. In Australia, at that point in time, we will officially become a dying race. There are people who say, 'Yes, but people will come in from overseas.' Yes they will, but they will not be Australians—they will be migrants. They will not be the race that is here now. I do not know about other people, but my forebears have been living in this country for 130 years. That is not true for everybody, but the race of people that are here will simply vanish. Before they vanish, there will be this terrible problem of half the population being very old and decrepit and having to be looked after by less than half the population—if you take out children, less than half the population will have to be looking after the old, decrepit half of the population.

I was not aware of this until Dr Bob Birrell from Monash University, the leading demographer in this country, wrote a landmark article in the Weekend Australian newspaper. In that article, he said that in 100 years time the population of Australia will be between six and seven million people. I thought, 'This is ridiculous; this can't be right.' I went down to the Parliamentary Library to the demographer there and I said, 'Is this ridiculous?' and he said, 'No, you can work it out for yourself'. He said that when 20 Australians die they are replaced by 17 Australians. If you do that for five generations over 100 years, you will find that you will have a decline, a very significant decline. I went back up to my office and did the mathematics, and I was quite amazed and very worried that I now belong to a vanishing race.

There are enormous, horrific costs associated with having a child. My wife and I brought up five children. I think it would be impossible to keep a child for under $25,000 a year, and even in the most grinding of poverty it would still be $15,000 a year. A child is not tax deductible, as it was when we were originally bringing up our children, when it was fully tax deductible. Now, the DINKs—double income, no kids—pay the same tax as the poor beggar whose wife has to stay at home because he has got three kids, and they are trying to stay alive with four or five people on one income. It is Christmas time for the DINKs; it is horror time for those people who would love to have children, who want to see an Australia in the future and who would love to see more Australians. It is horror time for them.

I enjoy immensely coming in here and tearing into the mainstream parties over economic issues and other issues, but in this case I have to say that the Liberal Party under Peter Costello—one of the worst Treasurers in Australian history, but Paul Keating will tip him out well in that race—doubled taxation and trebled the national debt. I am not referring to the government debt; Costello skited about the government balancing the budget, but it is a pity he did not take the time to think about the nation's book of account and its debt problems. He fixed his own by nearly trebling taxation while he was here, so do not let the Liberal Party ever get up and say, 'We're the low-taxing party'. They are the highest-taxing party in Australian history.

But I give Peter Costello his due. His comment, 'One for mum, one for dad and one for the country,' was a very good comment, and he did not just say it; he backed it up. There was a huge increase in the amount of money going to families having kids. It did not go back to anything like it was when I was a young father and the kids almost made our taxation negligible. We did not pay much tax at all because we had five children. He did not go that far, but all the same he started a big movement back towards defraying the enormous prohibitive costs of having a child.

The current government has continued with this and I praise them for the fact that they have provided a continuingly increasing amount of money to get to where we should be. But even this, which I refer to as $2,000 for three kids, the best way to explain it to the electorate is to say, 'If you have three kids, you will get an extra $2,000 a year'. It is not a huge amount of money but it is significant. We as a party—the KAP Party that I belong to—believe that every child must get $7,000. If we are going to turn that birthrate around then there has to be a payment for the birth—I cannot remember exactly what the figure was that we determined—with $7,000 per year per child in addition to that initial outlay, which is a very expensive item in the budget. It comes to $26,000 million—a huge budget item. But if you want to have a nation and a people with a future, and still exist as a race of people, then you had better do that and do that quickly. People say, 'Where will we get $26,000 million from?' but we have a 10 per cent customs duty on everything coming into the country, which will provide that amount of money. We can justify that, WTO neutral, because it is a customs duty not a tariff.

I return to the theme of a vanishing race. We had a very large number of suicides in one of our towns. I will not repeat the name of the town. It got a lot of bad publicity at the time. I said to one of my very good friends, who is very active in my political party as well, 'How is this occurring?' because it was occurring to middle-class families. I was quite staggered when I found out who the people were, because I knew them. He said, 'What if you were a young mother and the police knocked on the door and said, "Your kid's been throwing rocks through windows. We want him. He's going to have to be charged,", then the next day the housing commission—Qbuild or whatever they call them; they change their name every 10 minutes these days—turns up and they say "You're behind in your rent; we're hitting you with an eviction notice. You're going to be out on the streets," and you know you have to buy food for tonight but your husband's taken the money for the food and spent it on grog and if you complain he might duff you up a bit"?'

My friend said, 'Really? What do you think their frame of mind is?' Let me go back to the fact that the mother cannot pay the rent. One reason, as this gentleman said, was that the father was spending it on grog. He was not referring to a specific case; he was generalising. Another reason is that they just simply have no money to pay the rent. We in Australia have three characteristics that differentiate us from every other country. One of them is that we have the highest juvenile male suicide rate in the world, consistently and continuously now for over 20 years. I have my own views on why this is occurring and I am not sure whether they are correct or not. Boys are no longer allowed to be boys. They can no longer go fishing, camping, hunting or shooting. There are no male teachers anymore in the schools. Football is not available to them; there is no-one to take them there or to train them. They have no male role models. Probably a third of the population of Australia now live in families where there is no father. All of these things come together.

One of the issues that arise, and it is most unfortunate in this budget, is that we say to that little mother, who is trying desperately to raise three kids after her husband selfishly walked out on her and dumped her, and she is fighting to stay alive, 'Oh, no. You're not going to get any money unless you go back to work.' Then you complain because the children are on the streets causing trouble all of the time and a lot of them commit suicide. They have no mother because the mother has to go out and work. That is what is being imposed upon people here. If you think child-care centres and the education system can raise your kids then have a look at your statistics. You have the highest male suicide rates in the world. Is there a single member in this place who does not have a complaint every single week about misbehaviour of the juvenile section of our community? That has always been there but it is infinitely worse now than it has ever been before.

The honourable member for Herbert has come in. He would be well aware, in the Townsville region, of the great battle that my own party is leading, and I disagree with one aspect of this. They say that the parents should be made responsible. The parents have no disciplinary powers whatsoever now. That is another reason potential parents are not having kids. You cannot control the kids. The kids control the parents now. You cannot impose this, and Justice Wall quite rightly drew attention to it. But I say to Justice Wall, even though I love and respect the man—he is a great bloke—that without the disciplinary powers we cannot go in that direction— (Time expired)