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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4172

Ms MacTIERNAN (Perth) (12:14): We are very keen to support these amendments, which will give some justice to Western Australia. It was quite bizarre that the approach to Western Australia was so different to that of Queensland or the Northern Territory. In the Northern Territory a decision had been made that the North would be taken from the 26th parallel. Although in the north-west of Western Australia the North had always been taken as being from the 26th parallel, the definition in the legislation took it as the Tropic of Capricorn with some exceptions. In Queensland the definition was from the Tropic of Capricorn, but with around 65 per cent of the area between the Tropic of Capricorn and the 26th parallel added back in. In Western Australia, it went in the other direction and actually took areas that were north of the Tropic of Capricorn out—areas like Coral Bay, the Cape Range National Park and all the little communities up there. Major horticultural areas like Carnarvon were also excised. The contrast with Queensland could not be greater.

It is true that representations had been made to the member for Durack but, unfortunately, the bill kept on its course with these discriminatory exclusions and exceptions for Western Australia. The matter was brought to my attention—I mentioned this the other day—when I was in China at a Northern Australia investment conference. I was approached by Tony Beard of the Gascoyne Development Commission. I then started looking in detail at the legislation and found that it was worse than people had originally thought. It had the consequence, no doubt unintended, of excluding some of the areas north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I then paid an emergency visit to Carnarvon and met with the Gascoyne Development Commission, the Pilbara Development Commission—which was supporting the Gascoyne commission on this—and Karl Brandenburg and the Shire of Carnarvon, along with the growers from that region and with Vince Catania, the local National Party MP. I put together some amendments, got support from our side of the equation, spoke with Warren Entsch and contacted the member for Durack's office as well; I am sure they backed the need for change.

The real point is that Western Australia needs to be constantly vigilant. I have no doubt that this bizarre definition somehow emerged from the bureaucracy, but how can a bill treat Western Australia in such a discriminatory way? We need to be constantly vigilant in Western Australia to ensure that our needs are properly attended to and that the metrics of legislation and policy and programs are not forged in such a way to cause our state unequal treatment. This is a plea to all Western Australian members to be vigilant and to prosecute our case harder. It is not a case of being unreasonable; we simply want fair and equal treatment with the Northern Territory and Queensland.

I do thank all those colleagues—particularly Glenn Sterle and Warren Entsch, who has chaired the Northern Australia committee in an excellent way and has encouraged the development of a bipartisan approach. I would like to add that the Labor Party has always been quite a strong proponent of development in the north. (Extension of time granted.) Just yesterday we saw the celebration of the life of the now departed Rex Patterson and the role he played to ensure Darwin was rebuilt as a modern city after the cyclone. I could nominate many other instances, but the one I would bring to the attention of the House is the very substantial investment in social infrastructure by the last Labor government which allowed the second stage of the Ord River development to go ahead.

I have previously mentioned the developments in the Kimberley, where Chinese investors are bringing a great deal of energy, creativity and contact with supply lines into horticulture in the Kimberley. I do thank the minister for seeing the good sense and agreeing to the proposed amendments. With these we have the ability to take horticulture forward and to set up connections within Asia to bring in investors from our north in a collaborative partnership to open up new markets for us. They will bring some creativity to allow, for example, a vertically integrated beef business that promotes Kimberley and Pilbara beef as specialist brands, rather than as mere commodities. We need to bring horticulture and agriculture together to achieve this and we need to have serious investment by the CRC into those areas. I really want to thank again all those people in Carnarvon who brought this to my attention and who got behind the campaign. It has been a very good outcome for everyone.