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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8165

Mr BIDGOOD (9:01 PM) —I rise to speak to the member for O’Connor’s motion. While we sit on opposite sides of the House, and opposite ends of the nation for that matter, I do acknowledge that we both share a concern for the future prosperity of our electorates; they are both important electorates that contribute to the nation’s bottom line. We both want to see our beautiful north develop and prosper. I will, however, take this opportunity to assure the member for O’Connor that the Rudd Labor government not only recognises the energy, water and agricultural potential of Northern Australia but also is investing in it. The commitment that the Rudd Labor government is giving to my electorate of Dawson in North Queensland is proof of that. The election commitments by the Rudd Labor government are commitments that are being delivered.

Since being elected, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has visited and met with key stakeholders in the Burdekin, in Bowen and in Mackay in my electorate and has spoken to them on issues such as ethanol, biofuels—

Mr Katter —Hear, hear!

Mr BIDGOOD —I was waiting for that, Bob—and the future of cane. Since being elected, the Minister for Resources and Energy and the Minister for Tourism has visited Mackay and met with mining industry stakeholders. The minister has an excellent grasp of the issues in the area. Since being elected, federal cabinet has come to Mackay and heard about the real issues from the grassroots—all within eight months of forming this new government. The Rudd Labor government are giving the northern electorates of this great land the recognition they deserve—a recognition that the National Party would not give, even though they had the opportunity while in government for 12 years.

On the issue of energy, I, as part of the Rudd Labor government, have been in talks with Chinese delegations about the future of Chalco and Abbott Point. I am heartened to see the Queensland state government, through their memorandum of understanding, backing the development of Bowen as the preferred site for Chalco. I have pushed and will continue to push for the development of a baseload power station for the region to boost the productivity of the entire north. As many in this House are aware, our coal industry in the north produces some of the world’s finest grade coking coal. Our research and development investment in clean coal technologies is testament to our commitment to the industry—an industry that is contributing to the nation’s bottom line.

One way I will not advocate for powering up the north, though, is through nuclear power. While the previous National Party member for Dawson was an advocate for it and many of those opposite still defend it, the government and I state proudly that we will not have any of it. We will not be putting nuclear reactors in the north, or anywhere else for that matter.

I attended the Central Queensland mining expo in Mackay this year, where I met with many local mining service companies based at the local industrial estates in Mackay as well as multinational mining companies. All of them are optimistic about the resources boom that is taking place and are confident that the Rudd Labor government is serious about building the basic infrastructure that is an essential part of productivity and nation building. This government is about developing all productive areas of this great land. We see the potential and we are delivering for the people of Dawson. We are delivering for far north Australia and adding to the economic bottom line of the whole nation. I support the motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.