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Thursday, 26 June 2003
Page: 17815

Mr KATTER (9:55 AM) —I deeply regret that the member for Maranoa got up and castigated the Queensland government. All of the statements on tree-clearing in Queensland that I saw were, in fact, made by Dr Kemp, the federal minister. I asked the library who was responsible for them and, most certainly, all the stuff that the library has sent me was from Dr Kemp. For those people who do not know, there is a narrow band in the south of the state of Queensland, probably no more than 100 or 200 kilometres wide, where the clearing has taken place—past tense. All of Central Queensland, with the exception of an area south-east of Emerald, is completely uncleared and completely untouched. It never will be touched because it is worth only $50 or $100 an acre. You most certainly cannot clear country like that. Also, it does not have many trees. Most of it, in fact, is naturally untreed. The interesting part is that seven million hectares of the formerly treeless part is now covered in trees. The proposal that is going forward is absolutely stupid, but it shows so clearly how the government of Australia is not the government of Australia. It simply does not understand huge sectors of its own country and how the ecology of those areas works. Here is a classic case of that. And, Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, I am terribly sorry that you and other people in the National Party have to bear the brunt of these dreadful decisions.

As far as I am concerned, the last four weeks have probably been the worst weeks in politics because of the damage that has been done to the people that I represent and the people of my homeland. When I was handed a rifle and given 24 hours notice to go and fight the Indonesians in Borneo as a young man, standing behind me were 150,000 SLRs—self-loading rifles—and a million semiautomatic weapons to defend this country. There are now 50,000 semiautomatic weapons—that is all. We were given away to the enemy in the last war—we are very sensitive about these issues. With the sale of Mount Isa Mines—the last of our giant mining companies—80 per cent of the mineral resources of this country are now in the hands of foreigners. Seven years ago, that 80 per cent was in the hands of Australians. And the government has sat idly by and let all of this happen.

The decision on ethanol smells to the high heavens. The National Party, I deeply regret to say, came out publicly and said they had secured this benefit for the ethanol industry. Every single potential ethanol operator in this country has rolled his swag and gone away because there is absolutely no hope. The decision will close down forever the ethanol industry. The hypocrisy of those in this place to get up and say they were saving it—(Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! In accordance with standing order 275A, the time for members' statements has concluded.