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Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Page: 9321

Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (10:07): Well, where does one start? It is a wonderful day: I have just been informed that I have lots of friends—that is a turn up for the books—and I have just found out that I have $11 billion—that is also a new experience! I have to admit that, as perverse as it is, sometimes when people from the Australian Greens get stuck into me it is advertising—very good advertising. So I would like to thank Senator Hanson-Young for her exemplary promotion of the work that I do. But it was an absolutely absurd statement that we have just heard. It was also completely convoluted and confused.

How on earth can you say that we are talking about a process that would actually limit buybacks? They would have to pass a socioeconomic test of neutrality or, better than that, no detriment. Because there is no detriment, even if I did have these multibillionaire big irrigation mates—and this is like Disneyland—they would not be able to do that with this amendment that I have moved. They would not be able to do it because it would bring detriment to the community and therefore it would not be allowed. So the whole purpose of this is completely at odds with the dissertation that we have just received from Senator Hanson-Young.

I also find it amazing that, all of a sudden, the Greens have been endowed with financial purity. Where they become financially prudent is when they decide that the frogs are more important than the people. Then, they become pure. When it is actually people who are going to be hurt then they are financial purists. The whole purpose of this from the start was that $5.8 billion was to go to infrastructure because we did not want to destroy communities. But the Greens, by Senator Hanson-Young's own advocacy now, have said, 'No, forget about the people. They don't matter. It is all about the newts, the frogs and the swamps. Let's forget about the people and what this is about.'

This is a parliament that is supposed to represent, first and foremost, people—the rights of the Australian people and the future of those towns. But the Greens do not care about that. Today, Senator Hanson-Young has become an economic rationalist—an economic rationalist at the expense of the rights of the people who live in the basin. This is not an amendment for irrigators. This is an amendment for the people who live in the brick and tiles in the streets of the town of Mildura, who live in the weatherboard and iron of Dirranbandi, who live in the houses of Berri and who live in the irrigation towns up and down the basin. This is their amendment, not the irrigators' amendment.

This is the amendment for the vast majority of the people who actually have no right to any compensation, who are never going to be compensated. It is an amendment that talks about social justice, which I thought the Greens, once upon a time, believed in. We now see that their social justice mantra is a ploy that is wheeled out from time to time for purposes that they determine fit. It is not a genuine outcome. I am not surprised in the least by the Australian Greens' position on this. I am disappointed, but surprise at the hypocrisy from the Greens is something that, in this place, we have grown awfully accustomed to.