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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 2125


Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (15:01): I move

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Senator Conroy) to a question without notice asked by Senator Boswell today relating to Cape York.

It has been a great victory for the Wilderness Society, which made a one-page submission to the minister, Tony Burke, and was able to stop a planned $4 billion bauxite project going ahead. What a wonderful victory for stupidity and what a great loss for common sense when a one-page submission can halt a $4 billion project.

We cannot say the Wilderness Society did not keep trying. First they found the bat—a bare-rumped sheathtail bat was found in the region. The Wilderness Society can always find something. When the bat did not work to stop the bauxite project, they found a crab. When the crab did not work, they found shipping. They said, 'There will be more ships going through the Barrier Reef.' Aha, that was the trick! That was the thing that stopped it. Do not worry about how the refineries are going to work without bauxite in Gladstone. New bauxite refineries are being developed in Gladstone and unionists who the Labor Party purport to represent have got jobs, but there is no bauxite because it cannot come down on the ships. Do not worry about the loss of Aboriginal jobs, because when it comes to a black vote or a green vote the Labor Party will always bow their knee to the Greens. What has happened to the party who said they represent the underdog, the underprivileged and the Aboriginals? They do not represent anyone except the Greens.

It is passing strange, and I raised it in question time today: would you believe that the very day the minister announced that the South of Embley project was halted there was an announcement from the Greens that their Queensland election preferences would go to Labor candidate Kate Jones in the electorate of Ashgrove! Who was the person who passed the wild rivers legislation? Kate Jones. One thing about the Greens is that they do not forget their friends. They do not worry about the Aboriginals and they do not worry about the workers, but they do not forget their friends. We learnt on the very day of the announcement to halt the project that Kate Jones would get Greens' preferences.

It is a pretty sad state of affairs when Rio Tinto can go to enormous trouble, conduct all sorts of environmental reports and spend billions to get this project up and running and the Wilderness Society can put in a half-page submission—it was not actually a full page—and the whole project is run on the rocks. This is mickey mouse stuff. Who is going to invest in this country when someone puts in a half-page protest and a $4 billion project is stopped? Who is actually going to put any money into this place? You would not invest Confederate money in Australia if you were an investor at the moment. You would not take a punt on this mob because you would never know where your money was going to end up.

Rio Tinto have said that most of the bauxite will be going up through the Gulf of Carpentaria and to the north and not travelling through the Barrier Reef. They say that to maintain their bauxite refineries in Gladstone another 70 ships will have to come in. That is going to happen whether or not the South of Embley project goes ahead. They anticipate that another 30 ships will be going through the Barrier Reef. It is not as though the bauxite ships are running up on the reef every now and again or every year or every 10 years. Bauxite ships have been going up and down the reef for 40 years and none of them have ever run on the reef.

What a limp-wristed excuse to stop a $4 billion project, a project that was going to create huge numbers of jobs for Aboriginal people. Do not worry about them, Mr Labor Party; consign them to passive welfare for the rest of their lives. That is what is what you do. (Time expired)