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Monday, 7 July 2014
Page: 4211

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:19): Mr Deputy President Marshall, congratulations on your appointment.


Senator IAN MACDONALD: If any of the new senators or anyone who might be listening to this debate needed any evidence of the hypocrisy of the Greens political party, they have just heard it. Senator Ludlam gave a magnificent speech this morning about how he was offering himself for the position as the President of the Senate because he did not want the crossbenchers to be ignored. Why was that? Because it was a government senator who was being nominated for the President of the Senate. But, when it came to your position, Mr Deputy President—the deputy's job—did the Greens have the same high-sounding principles about giving the Senate the opportunity of voting for a crossbench senator? No, of course Senator Ludlam did not. Why? Because there is no difference between the Greens political party and the Australian Labor Party. Why the Palmer United Party have been put between the ALP and that section of the ALP called the Greens, I will never know, but, if the new President is listening, he should do something about it so that all of the Labor Party can actually sit together.

I am still waiting for answers to questions of the previous government that were never answered, and I know that the Greens had questions of the previous government that were never answered either. But did they ever embark upon this stunt of spending 15 minutes, when we were on broadcast, when there were a couple of people in the gallery? Did they ever bother about it then? No, because it was the Labor Party, it was their other faction, that was refusing to answer.

Senator Ludlam interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Senator Ludlam is right. Yes, I think I can count two times in the last six years where they did move such a motion. This is just typical of the Greens political party. If you happened to be listening to Senator Ludlam, you would think, 'Horrors! Native timber in Australia is just about to disappear'. Most of what Senator Ludlam just spoke about is incorrect. For a start, it was Richard Court's Liberal government—much to my disgust—which shut down a lot of sustainable logging in karri and jarrah forests in Western Australia. I was well familiar with the statistics on the logging industry and the forests in Western Australia back earlier in this century. I am not quite so up to date with the statistics at the moment but I can guarantee you—because I have seen the Greens here for a long period—that most of what Senator Ludlam has spoken about in relation to Australia's native forests would be incorrect.

Australia has an enviable record of sustainable management of our native forests. We have built up that reputation over many years, but the Greens have determined to shut down in this country anything which is productive. That takes jobs away from the workers that I thought the Labor Party were concerned about. I remember a time when—and I pay credit to the CFMEU; wash my mouth out!—the forestry section of the CFMEU had the courage to stand up to the Greens and to the Labor Party to save logging jobs in Tasmania. They knew, as we all knew, that logging in Tasmania was sustainable.

We have just had the farce of the United Nations group suggesting that some of the forests in Tasmania which have been logged for centuries are now so pristine that they have to be protected. Senator Colbeck, photographically as well as verbally, made the case on why some forests in Tasmania should be delisted. I see Senator McLucas mouthing something here. She well knows the forests on the Atherton Tableland. I can still remember Senator Richardson going up to Ravenshoe and saying, 'These are the pristine forests which have to be saved.' The locals told him, 'Minister, these forests have been logged for 100 years and you are saying they are pristine!' In his book Whatever it takes, former Senator Richardson gave the truth to that campaign, writing that it was all about whatever it took to get the Greens second preferences in the elections in 1990.

I challenge senators to go through most of the facts Senator Ludlam has just related. They would see that, as with most things with the Greens political party, it will be a fabrication, an exaggeration, and this misleading of the Australian public must be brought to account. I was involved in the committee on Northern Australia. The other day we had the Wilderness Society following the Greens political senators around the North, giving them information about various things. Not once did they mention the oil leaking into the Great Barrier Reef. You would think the Greens would have 10 motions before the Senate about oil from ships leaking into the Great Barrier Reef. Did we hear a squeak from the Greens about that? No. And why not? Because the oil leaked from the boat Bob Brown was on doing some sort of campaigning. When Bob Brown's boat leaks oil into the Barrier Reef, it is not something the Greens are too interested in, but when anyone else does it you will have the Greens there in spades.

We were in Weipa the other day, and Senator Waters, to her credit, was asking questions of Rio. She said, 'But you've got all these new boats going through the Barrier Reef and we are campaigning to stop them.' It took about 15 minutes of patient explaining by the Rio executive that there were absolutely no additional boats going through the Barrier Reef, that there were a few extra boats taking bauxite from Weipa but they were going straight to China. I almost felt sorry for Senator Waters, but at least she now has the truth of the matter. This is a motion to taken note of—

Senator Ludlam: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I ask you to draw Senator Macdonald's attention to the question before the chair, which has very little to do with any of the stuff he has been going on about.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Ludlam. I will say that the question before the chair is to take note of minister's response. In your contribution you also ranged rather broadly on that subject. It is a debate about that now, and I think Senator Macdonald, for the whole, is responding to some of the matters you raised, but I ask him to keep the question in mind.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr Deputy President. As Senator Ludlam interrupted me, I was about to refer to the fact that this is a motion to take note of the failure to answer a question, notice of which was said to be given to the minister but about which the minister—and he is checking—is unaware. Again, that I have seen as a Greens tactic in the past. It may be that they did give notice this time, but this happens often. It even happened under the former government, I might add, on the one or two occasions when this matter was raised.

I have finished my conclusion. I do not wish to take the time of the Senate on these matters. I want to take at least five minutes less than Senator Ludlam. I point out that this becomes such a great issue for Senator Ludlam and the Greens now because the coalition is in government, but it is an issue which the Greens never seemed to worry about when, week after week, Labor ministers would take questions on notice in this chamber and never answer them. I think the hypocrisy of the Greens is there for everyone to see.

Question agreed to.