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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8551

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3:22 PM) —Senator Williams’s question in question time today highlights that for the Labor Party politics and power are always far more important than policy. You only have to look at the issue of national parks to see that. Right around Australia, state Labor governments set up national parks—why? Because, politically, they are threatened by the Greens political party—the successors to the Communist Party of Australia—that, unless they do that, they will not get preferences. If they did not get preferences, very few Labor governments would ever achieve power.

Look at the Traveston Crossing Dam in Queensland—the Greens on one hand said they were against the dam and on the other hand gave preferences to a party that was determined to build the dam, so ensuring the election of that party. Right around Australia the Labor Party do the same thing. They set up these national parks to get Green preferences. The problem is that they do not resource them and they throw out of what used to be good Australian forest the people who used to manage them. The timber industry very selectively harvested Australia’s native forests. In doing that, they put tracks through all the forests, they had a workforce on hand and they did controlled burns so that in the fire season the forests were much safer. But the Labor Party and the Greens political party got rid of those on-the-spot protectors of the forests, leaving the forest without any protection.

As Senator Williams and Senator Back have pointed out, more trees are destroyed in the annual bushfires than were ever harvested under the controlled forestry regimes of Australian governments. We got rid of the people who controlled them because the Greens said: ‘You’re cutting down trees. You’re destroying trees. You’re destroying the habitat of the koalas.’ And what did they leave us with? A situation where the forests are decimated. It is not every second tree, every 10th tree or this hectare against that hectare—the whole lot is destroyed, and every living animal with it. That is the result of the Greens political party and the Labor Party taking away those that protected Australia’s native forests. The Labor Party set up these national parks because it was good for politics and they never resourced them. That was the point of Senator Williams’s question.

The New South Wales Labor government—initially in power because of the Greens political party—is reducing the number of national parks employees by 200. You would think that, at this time of the year, in the height of the bushfire season, they would be putting on an extra thousand employees. But, at this crucial time, the New South Wales Labor government is axing 200 jobs in the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services—that is, 200 fewer people with knowledge will be available to help quell the bushfire disaster that is waiting at our doors.

That is why I return to the truism that, for the Labor Party, politics—getting Green preferences so they can stay in power is far more important than decent policy in looking after our national parks and wildlife. Wherever you look in Australia, you will find that, for the Labor Party, politics and power are far more important than policy. A look at the way the parks and our natural landscape have been managed under Labor will show you that the Labor Party have no interest in properly addressing the issues and are only making sure they can hold on to the power that they achieved with the support of the Greens political party. The sooner Australians wake up to this political power struggle, or push, by the parties of the left, the sooner we will be able to get back to real policy which will look after and properly manage our national parks— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.