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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1758

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (12:06): I seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

Mr KATTER: Northern Australia, stripped to a 100-kilometre belt, is an area comparable to the size of Europe. If it were a separate country, it would be one of the wettest countries on earth. Taking out that little narrow strip and a little dot around Darwin, it is populated by fewer than 70,000 people; there is no-one living there. Yet here is an area with tens of millions of square kilometres of arable land. Here is an area awash with water; it has three-quarters of Australia's water. Outside northern Australia, there actually is no water for irrigation except on the Murray-Darling and little, tiny, short streams that run from the divide into the sea, so there is no potential for development of agriculture outside the northern third of Australia.

Let's have a look at what we have done. In the last 30 years, there has not been a single dam or a single weir, yet each government has come in, as this government has come in, and said, 'Oh, we're going to develop the water resources of the North.' Where? Getting out a white paper is not developing a resource. If under the Bjelke-Petersen government you had put out a white paper or had a study on it, you would get sacked from the ministry immediately, and I can name you three ministers who were sacked for just that. As he quite rightly said: 'If you can't make a decision then get the hell out of this room. We make decisions; we don't say what we're going to do.' We have discussions with the alternative governments in Brisbane and the LNP—some of them—about what we are going to do. Well, we are not interested in what you are going to do. When we went to an election in the eighties, we would tell you what we had done. We would not tell you what we were going to do, because no-one is going to trust a politician's promise.

Talking about another white paper—for heaven's sake! We have had white papers and green papers and purple papers and tissue papers, and what have we got out of it? I will tell you what we got: getting those papers out slowed us down. Do not listen to me, Madam Deputy Speaker. A candidate for the LNP in the last election told the minister in Canberra what he could do with his white paper. I cannot use his language here in this chamber, but we are not interested in white papers. There has been $120 million spent on studies and white papers in the last 30 years, but there has not been one politician with enough ability to build a single weir across a single creek—not a shovel-load of concrete across a gutter in 30 years. Everyone gets up and talks about 'developing the North' and 'food bowl of Asia' and, 'We're going to build all these dams.' Do not talk about it. Tell us you are doing it or shut your mouth, because we are sick of hearing about your white papers. No-one has even bothered to attend the meetings. I mean no disrespect to the member for Leichhardt, who I think is very genuine in his attributes.

In the minute or so that is still available to me, let me paint for you a picture. Instead of spending $25,000 million a year to buy petrol from overseas, we produce the petrol ourselves—renewable so that it does not send CO2 up into the atmosphere. Yes, it does send CO2up into the atmosphere and the sugarcane and grain pull it back down the next year. So it goes up and down; it does not stay up there. Al Gore, in his book, An inconvenient truth, says ethanol was the first answer to CO2. Every country on earth is now doing ethanol, with the exception of Australia and the African states. That is outside of the oil producers, of course, in the Middle East. Every single country is doing it, and they are not doing it to look after their farmers, I can assure you. They are doing it because of health reasons. In Australia, surely it is preferable that we have a source of our own petrol—which we do not have, for the first time in our history, virtually. If we have a hiccup in our security, all they need do is cut off our petrol and it will close down the whole country—because it all comes from overseas. We can produce $10,000 million worth of petrol every year without much outlay and capital cost whatsoever. That is what we can do.

We can produce $10,000 million worth over a period of 10 years in prawn and fish farming. We can do that immediately. We can stop the erosion and destruction of our natural flora and fauna with the creeping Prickly acacia tree. We can stop that by putting strip pasture along the banks of our creeks, increasing our cattle production 600 per cent. (Time expired)