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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6130


Mr KATTER (5:09 PM) —Unfortunately, I represent Urandangi, Doomadgee, Mornington, Yarrabah, Normanton and Camooweal, which are six of the worst 10 schools. Charters Towers and Croydon make it eight out of the worst 20 schools. We say that school attendance is terrible, but I find the kids at Yarrabah the happiest kids that I have seen in all of Queensland. They are kicking footballs around; they are riding horses. I would prefer our kids to be happy, quite frankly, than well educated. I say that after a lot of forethought. I am a person who had the privilege of having parents who were reasonably well off and I had as good an education as it is possible to provide for your children.

Having said those things, the Kennedy electorate of North Queensland is the most certainly the eye of the storm. These are the worst performances in Australia. At Atherton Primary School, year 5 have been told that they have to find $2,000 for laptops. The government told us that everyone was going to have a laptop. That is not the case at the Atherton State Primary School. The proposed removal of PCAP funding will leave St Anthony’s at Dimbulah, St Therese’s at Ravenshoe, Mount St Bernard at Herberton and other state schools off the table. To a lesser extent, this funding was used by St Anthony’s at Dimbulah to allow kids to travel 160 kilometres to Cairns, the nearest regional centre. That costs $2 a kilometre if you are not going under PCAP.

Moving on very swiftly in the limited time available to me, this next point is rather interesting. The government said that the problem was alcohol and they are trying to stop people from drinking. How utterly stupid. I do not know how many deaths we are up to in Queensland now, but I would hazard a guess that there would be at least a dozen deaths attributable to the state government’s efforts to ban alcohol. Has prohibition worked anywhere in the world? Why should the first Australians be treated as second-class citizens? It is impossible to say that all are treated equally when any of the 40,000 people living in the communities in Queensland are not allowed alcohol. It was always part of our upbringing as young people. I was a person who did not drink much, but a lot of my friends did. I cannot think of any evils that emanated from drink that affected the young people who I mixed with.

They are now saying that, if the kids do not attend school in all of the centres whose names I have reeled off, they will not get welfare payments. Does the government really think that they can force people to do things—force them not to drink? I am sorry, you cannot. Human beings have drunk since time immemorial. Read your Bible to find that out or read your archaeological books to find that out. Every race on earth figured out how to ferment alcohol. The pygmies in the Congo and the people on obscure islands in the South Pacific all figured out how to ferment alcohol. It is verified that we are up to our third death now from what they call ‘the brew’, which is a fermentation of vegemite. What is the state government going to do in Queensland, ban vegemite? That will be their next move.

You have to go to the root causes. I have canvassed those root causes many times in this place. It gives me no great joy—it causes me great suffering—to go bed of a night knowing that this place has not taken any notice of a single one of those recommendations, with the exception of the last minister for aboriginal affairs in the last government, who made some efforts in the Northern Territory. They are now saying that if you do not have your kid attending school then they will take away welfare payments. What are people going to do, starve to death? How are they going to live without welfare payments? The parents cannot discipline their kids. I imagine that other members of parliament have had people in their office who have tried to discipline their children and the thought control police have taken their children off them. How unfair. (Time expired)