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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3260


Senator IAN MACDONALD (4:40 PM) —My colleagues in the Senate will forgive me if I express in this matter of public importance debate a little pride in the results of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Index survey. Townsville and Darwin, two of Australia’s northernmost cities, have come in first and third overall in this assessment. They lead the way in many areas. I think that indicates that, as in other areas, Northern Australia leads the way and should be recognised as such across the board of government influence. I also say with some pride that the capital city of my state, Brisbane, has featured very well, as has another significant city in the state of Queensland, the Sunshine Coast. There is a common theme running through these successful cities, and that is they have good governance at local, state and federal level. For example, Townsville’s results are in no small way a credit to the mayor, Councillor Les Tyrell, and the deputy mayor, Councillor David Crisafulli—who, I mention in passing with some pride, just happened to work for me once upon a time. Brisbane has done well because of the work of Can-do Campbell Newman, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane—another Liberal, I might add. Sunshine Coast has a great leader in Councillor Bob Abbot. Of course, all of the federal seats in that area are held by good positive members—Warren Truss, Alex Somlyay and Peter Slipper—and the other seat in that area, Longman, will shortly be represented by an up-and-coming, very able young fellow by the name of Wyatt Roy. I will come back to that later. All of the state members on the Sunshine Coast are members of the Liberal National Party. There is a common theme there.

I will look quickly at some of the individual rankings. Darwin was ranked first on employment opportunities. Why would that be? Because of two factors mainly. The huge resource of mining makes employment in Darwin so positive, but what is the Rudd government going to do about that? It is going to destroy the mining industry with this great big new tax and that, in future surveys, will have an impact on Darwin. The other thing for Darwin is that it is the location of a military enterprise. A lot of the employment opportunities in Darwin rotate off the defence commitment in that area. Darwin also ranked high in household payments. Why? Because a lot of the income of the Northern Territory, and Darwin in particular, comes from the mining industry; an industry that Mr Rudd seems determined to destroy in Australia. Darwin ranked sixth in food production. This is because the people of the Northern Territory—indeed, the people of Northern Australia—understand that more can be done to supply fresh food from the north of Australia because of our abundant supply of water.

Townsville did very well in biodiversity, and that I think is principally because of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which was set up by the Fraser Liberal government, and the green zones on the Barrier Reef, which were an initiative of the Howard Liberal government. Townsville ranked well in employment. For what reason? Three mine-processing activities—zinc, copper and nickel—are located in Townsville, and these again are supported by an industry that Mr Rudd wants to destroy with his great big new tax on mining.

Another reason Townsville did well was because of the Solar Cities program. That was a program initiated by the Howard government and fought for by Peter Lindsay, the Liberal member for the seat of Herbert. His good work there will be carried on by Ewen Jones, who I think everyone expects will become the next member for Herbert. Again Townsville ranked well with household repayments. Why? It is because of the fly-in fly-out from Townsville, supported by the mining industry which Mr Rudd wants to destroy with his great big new tax on mining. Townsville also benefits because it is the site of Australia’s largest defence establishment.

The Sunshine Coast did well on the subject of wellbeing. I can well understand that. One of the reasons it ranked well in food production is that fortuitously the Liberal-National Party in Queensland led the charge against the establishment of the Traveston Crossing dam against the Labor government, who were returned to office with support of the Greens political party. Wyatt Roy, who I mentioned before, comes from a family that has been involved in horticulture in that Sunshine Coast hinterland. It is that sort of access to fresh food that has seen the Sunshine Coast do so well there.

In Brisbane a lot of their high ranking in the biodiversity area is the responsibility of the Brisbane City Council. I might mention that Councillor Jane Prentice, who will be coming to Canberra hopefully as the member for Ryan, had a significant role to play in establishing Brisbane as the green city it is.

On a negative note, and time is escaping me, I did want to mention the other significant North Queensland city of Cairns. It has been taken down in the overall rankings because its employment is so atrocious under the Rudd government. It was the Rudd government that destroyed a very viable shipbuilding industry in Cairns, causing huge unemployment. It was the Rudd government that introduced the passenger movement charges that have had a lot to do with making things difficult in the tourism industry. For those reasons, unfortunately Cairns rated poorly overall. But all in all, it is a good result for Queensland and a great result for Northern Australia.