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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8164


Mr HAASE (8:56 PM) —It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise this evening in support of the member for O’Connor’s private member’s motion. Mr Tuckey has always been a great supporter of the potential of north-west Australia. I recognise there is a potential greater than that for the name ‘Australia’ in the collective ‘Northern Australia’. It is not a time for parochialism here; it is time for collectivism. I hate the word but, on this rare occasion, I will recognise the need for collectivism. It seems we have in the Kimberley region of Western Australia the opportunity to solve this nation’s dilemma of sustainable energy that we have been locked into with this crazy debate about global warming, which we call ‘weather’. More importantly, we have the situation in the Ord Valley reaching through across the border into the Northern Territory. We have the opportunity to take away the problem of a failing food production industry with the weather change in the Murray-Darling by having the Ord stage 2 development extended.

We have a major problem, however, with the Northern Territory government. We have just replaced the head-in-the-sand Western Australian government. Hopefully, we will eventually change the head-in-the-sand Northern Territory government and give some vision to the people of Australia, which will encourage them to go to Northern Australia and take up the challenge of using the collective resources of land and water that is the Ord Valley stage 2. The potential is there. We have a body of water. The popular debate now is: ‘What are we going to do? We are running out of water in Australia.’ Lake Argyle in flood is 21 times the size of Sydney Harbour and it is being ignored by a head-in-the-sand government in the Northern Territory and an equally head-in-the-sand government led by Mr Rudd, and something needs to change.

We need to embrace these resources; we need to utilise them for the people of Australia so that we no longer have the debate that goes, ‘Oh dear—wring the hands—we are running out of water in the Murray-Darling Basin!’ If we want to solve the problem of food shortages globally, certainly at least in Australia, look no further than the Ord River. We need to put a few bob in federally and support the M2 channel. We need to get behind the Northern Territory government, drag their head out of the sand and say: ‘Wake up! You have a job to do here on behalf of Australia.’ It may be on behalf of feeding Asia but certainly there is a resource to be harnessed here. All this hand-wringing does no good, you know. We actually have to do something. We have to recognise the potential that is available there. We have the natural resource; we have the expertise.

For 10 years the Department of Agriculture and Food at the Frank Wise Institute in the Ord Valley in Kununurra has been growing GM cotton and getting incredible results. We can save on pesticide, we can save on water and we can double production from normal cotton crops. We have the potential to do that in canola as well. We have endless opportunities. But it seems that the people in government in the Northern Territory and now in government federally would rather wring their hands and talk up the problems rather than recognise and embrace the solutions. The solution is simply this: recognise that we have the resource; recognise that we have the science; and recognise that we have, during this time of the greatest economic boom that Australia has ever enjoyed, the finance to fund the development of Ord stage 2. The people are there, the science is there and the resources are there—why can we not develop the political will to put the pieces together and drive the Ord River, thereby solving so many problems that we simply wring our hands about today? The people of the Ord do not know why. They were led by the nose into electing a Rudd government. They expect the same Rudd government now to stop simply watching and reporting on grocery prices and to actually do something about moving this nation forward and solving the problems. (Time expired)