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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1418


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (11:28): We join the opposition in, and we are very, very pleased to hear, their positive remarks. We should work together as a team in this place to achieve good outcomes. We thank Minister Clare for adopting the same spirit of bipartisanship on this issue. He is a young minister who we hope will go on to bigger and better things in this place.

We are a very, very rich nation. We will secure, from our gas resources alone, $45,000 million a year, from which the Australian people will receive virtually nothing. I think people like me will have to revise our positions with respect to the minerals resource rent tax, because previous governments have allowed all of the gas industry to be owned by foreigners.

Since there are almost no wages involved in the gas industry, and it would be flat out with $4,000 million a year, what do the Australian people get out of the gas industry? What the Australian people get out of that $45,000 million is virtually nothing, except some dirty aquifers. It seems to me that some $5,000 million or $6,000 million is ready to be picked up from that industry. If we were to introduce ethanol and build a railway line into the Galilee Basin, a canal and an electricity transmission line to get the great mineral resource of the north-west mineral province in Queensland, and if we had the same rules for our prawn farms as Thailand does, there would be figures of $20,000 million and $20,000 million, $10,000 million and $10,000 million, and the tax revenue would be $20,000 million to add to that $5,000 million.

There is a 10 per cent customs duty on everything coming into this country. Surely we should protect jobs in our motor vehicle industry with at least a 10 per cent customs duty. An extra 10 per cent is going to make no difference to a person buying a Volvo. It would bring in $34,000 million a year and help to protect jobs, manufacturing and industries such as the timber industry in my electorate and yours, Mr Deputy Speaker Adams.

Those few simple things would bring in an extra $60,000 million a year. This is not radical. The Americans have already made huge moves towards ethanol. China, India and the United Kingdom all moved down that pathway. Those things would make the cake bigger and bigger. I saw that when I was in government in Queensland. We had a lot of money to spend on community services, such as the benefit for disabled people that we are talking about today. As each day went by, we were making the cake bigger and bigger. But this place does not concentrate on making the cake bigger and bigger. All it talks about is balancing the budget and screwing every government service down through the floor—and that is true of both sides of the House.

I was pleased to hear the previous speaker refer to Christianity. The second sentence outlining the values and principles of my own political party states that we are a Christian nation, and we go on to define 'Christian' as being our responsibility to our fellow man. At the very heart of our cultural inheritance—whether we are atheists or agnostics, whether we want to admit it or not—built into our thinking DNA, is Christianity: we do have a responsibility to our fellow man. We are seeing that manifest today in this much needed and greatly overdue legislation. We pay the government and the opposition great tribute for their bipartisan remarks today.

Everyone will get their turn. I have always been amazed that, through many generations on both sides of my family, we have never had a family member with a disability. Suddenly, one of my grandchildren was born with a very rare disease called Williams syndrome. One says, 'That's terrible.' But, when I see little kids and babies, I always say, 'We should pass a law stopping them from growing up,' because they are so cute and lovable at that age! There are two ways to look at these things. If you have Williams syndrome, you will not grow beyond the age of seven, so my granddaughter will always be a little kid.

I reflect greatly upon my generation, who were told that women should have careers, not children. So, within 10 years, we become a vanishing race. Those women of my vintage are very old and very lonely. Their careers have left a very bitter taste in their mouth. They have no-one to love; they have no-one to love them. Even if you have a child who may be very greatly impaired, at least there is someone to love and someone to love you. I feel very sad and sorry for those people that have not enjoyed that experience.

In my family we are great pet lovers. When the abortion debate was on in Queensland, a leader of the Liberal Party said to me, 'People love their pet dogs, yet they have a different attitude towards a debilitated human being, who is infinitely more lovable.' I thought it was a profound insight by Tony Bourke, pharmacist and later Mayor of Toowoomba.

Family breakdowns often follow the birth of a crippled child. Families that stay together have a very strong relationship, because a terrible stress is placed upon such families. The mother is chained to the child 24 hours a day every day of the year, in many cases forever. The enormous psychological burden, the crushing burden, that occurs can break a human being. If we can provide money for respite care, which I think would be one of the major uses for this money, that will be a huge advantage. Sholto Douglas's wife in Townsville was a great advocate of this, saying to me on many occasions that respite care was desperately needed. 'Chained' is a pejorative word and I do not like using it in this context, but I have to use it for the metaphor I need. The trauma and hardship that is placed on a woman by being chained to a child 24 hours a day every day of the year for the rest of her life can be a very shattering experience. We will be able to overcome that problem with this legislation.

I have a very good friend named Wayne Maitland. The highway into Gordonvale is called Maitland Road, after that old pioneering family. Wayne's brother was head of the CFMEU and is also a very good friend of mine. Wayne lost his leg in a very simple accident. He slipped off a ladder while climbing onto the roof. He did not fall from a very great height. He nearly lost his life but he lost his leg. Wayne has always been a leader of men. He is the unofficial deputy mayor, deputy sheriff, of Gordonvale. They sent up an assessor, who travelled a long way at very great expense, to find out whether Wayne needed a lift. Wayne has got a two-storey house and he has only got one leg—and you have to have an assessor spend a day or two, with huge travel costs, to assess whether he needs a lift!

There are a lot of people making a lot of money out of this gravy train. There are a lot of people thinking Christmas has come, with this money flowing in. If this is not oversighted properly you will find that the actual benefit that flows to the disabled will be very, very small indeed. We have had a doubling of the cost of administration in our old people's homes because of the runaway public liability terror and also the terror of ministers and departmental heads who are protecting their own backsides. So people are not being looked after because people in power want to protect themselves—

Mr Neville: Excessive bureaucracy.

Mr KATTER: Yes, excessive bureaucracy. I thank my honourable colleague from the great city of Bundaberg. It is because of excessive bureaucracy and the cost of it. I ask, Mr Clare, if you could please take note of this. There will be a huge bureaucratic absorption of that money. The communication breakdown between the government handing out that money and the people who are disabled receiving that money is already in many people's opinions—not just Wayne Maitland's—a huge problem now. They are simply not getting the message through on where that assistance needs to go.

Many people have heard me say many times in this place that the amount of money going into first Australian affairs, Aboriginal affairs, in this country is excessive—and I speak with extreme authority because I was a minister in this area for the best part of a decade, and I did so well that I do not hesitate to say that there are still two books on the reading list at the university which are highly laudatory of the things we did in those years. I took all the credit for it. I do not think there was a single thing I did that I deserve credit for—it was the first Australian people themselves that were involved in every initiative—but I was perspicacious enough to realise that the people I had to listen to were the people with black faces that lived in the community areas and in the towns and cities of Australia. That is all I was interested in listening to. I was not listening to the bureaucrats and the do-gooders and all the people who man these mechanisms that absorb the money. Wilson Tuckey and Ian Causley said in this place again and again that the money should be put in a box with a chain around it and it should be sent to Doomadgee or Yirrkala or wherever. At least that way the people who need that money will get it. Whether they misspend it or not, at least it will be misspent by black people instead of white people in Australia. But the vast bulk of that money goes into white pockets.

I plead with the minister to take into account that this money needs to go to the person who has been born with a disability or has lost a limb through injury in their lifetime. The money should go to them and not be absorbed by the in-between people. A lot of them are well-meaning people, but that is not the way that it ends up. As minister I really came to loathe and detest the do-gooder class, even though there were some very good people amongst them.

Finally, Wayne said the government are listening to the big service providers, where there is huge money involved. They are not listening to the little local groups that are close to the people with disabilities. I asked him to give me examples. He immediately mentioned St John's, who are his contact point, and Blue Care. So we would plead with the government to ensure that, unlike in the field of first Australian affairs, the money actually goes to the people it is supposed to go to and not to do-gooders dreaming up new and ever more sophisticated methods of service delivery. (Time expired)

(Quorum formed)

Debate adjourned.

Leave granted for second reading debate to resume at a later hour this day.