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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 143

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (10:07 PM) —As a life member of Young Liberals and a former patron I was delighted to be invited by the Young Liberal Movement to address their 2005 national convention in Hobart earlier this year. It is invigorating to see young people engaged in serious debate on issues of importance to our nation. Congratulations to Queensland Young Liberal Mark Powell on his election to the position of federal vice-president of the movement. This follows a long line of Queenslanders who have held the top position in the Young Liberals, including the immediate past president Grant Muller and Young Liberal luminaries like Gerard Paynter and Matthew Boland.

My address to the Young Liberal convention focused on the resounding success the Liberal Party had in Tasmania at the last federal election where we won two additional seats, Bass and Braddon, in the north of the state. Our success in these seats was clearly the result of us appealing to unionists and blue-collar workers. We were prepared to save their jobs and their futures whereas Labor was prepared to sell them down the drain in trying to attract the latte set in both Sydney and Melbourne. Our appeal to the working men and women of Australia also resounded in the suburbs of Sydney and Perth and, indeed, in Queensland. These ‘Kath and Kim’ voters are the type of people who appreciate the policies put up by the Liberal Party. All of our policy direction should be and is aimed at encompassing all Australians who want to seek rewards from extra effort. It is also for all Australians who want to be safe and relaxed in this great nation. Similarly, Young Liberals need to reach out and encompass more tradesmen, apprentices, shop assistants, trainees and blue-collar workers, who make up a substantial part of our population and who, in many instances, are the backbone of Australia’s economic success. The involvement of young people through movements like the Young Liberals gives the federal government an ongoing insight into all age groups of Australians.

On a different matter, I will turn to Queensland. With the swearing in of the third Liberal senator from Queensland imminent, it is time perhaps to reflect on the success of the Liberal Party in Queensland in the Senate in recent times. It has been my honour to lead the Liberal Party Senate ticket on three occasions. The first was in 1990, when the ticket consisted of me, Dr John Herron and Ms Carmel Draper. In 1996 I again led the ticket, with Senator Herron as the No. 2 candidate and Ms Debbie Kember as No. 3. I was privileged to again be selected to lead the ticket in 2001 when we had a resounding victory.

All of my time in the Senate has been dedicated to seeing the return of a Liberal government in Canberra, but a very close secondary goal has always been my absolute determination to see a third Liberal senator elected from Queensland. This was achieved at the last election when Senator Brett Mason, Senator George Brandis and Senator elect Dr Russell Trood were elected as the Queensland Senate team. I should congratulate and give particular credit to that team and their strategies on a great campaign that ended so successfully. I think this sets the benchmark for the future, and I look forward with my Liberal Party Senate colleague Senator Santo Santoro to emulating this success at the next election. The third position on the ticket henceforth will be a very winnable position for the Liberal Party and should attract a large field of particularly qualified candidates for the position.

Over the years, I and other Queensland Liberal senators have put a lot of work into raising the Liberal Party profile in the rest of Queensland. Our success in the electorates of Herbert and Leichhardt in 1996 and our substantially increased Senate vote in country Queensland this time around are dividends from the additional work the Queensland Liberal senators have done in the past 15 years. I look forward to making the election of three Liberal senators from Queensland a matter of course in the years ahead.

Finally I am particularly grateful to Senator George Campbell for refusing to allow me to incorporate those two wildly exciting speeches. I would have thought that as a matter of good sense, so we could all get out of here, it would have been appropriate to incorporate those speeches in the Hansard. But, as I say, I am indebted to Senator George Campbell from the ALP for refusing me that. It has meant that all of the people in the gallery, all those people clamouring to hear my words, have now been able to hear me. Unfortunately we are not on broadcast tonight, so the rest of Australia—

Senator George Campbell —And there’s nobody in the gallery either!

Senator IAN MACDONALD —can’t hear me either. But Senator Campbell doesn’t that show the stupidity of your position? That is the point I am making—you are too silly to understand.

Senator McLucas —Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I request that the senator withdraw those terms. I do not think they are parliamentary.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Macdonald, I do not think there is anything unparliamentary there. I will look at the Hansard on it, but just be a bit more temperate in your comments.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Certainly, Mr Deputy President. If I offended Senator George Campbell then I deeply apologise to him for his sensitivities.

Senator George Campbell —I’ve been offended by experts—

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I would say there would be many, Senator George Campbell, because you would be a very good target, I have to say.

Senator George Campbell —and you’re not one of them.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —You lend yourself to that sort of thing. As I was saying, all of those people in the gallery would have benefited by listening to this. Unfortunately it is not being broadcast, but now all those millions of Australia who read every word we say in the Hansard will now be able to read this. I am very grateful to—

Senator George Campbell —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President, in terms of the relevance of what Senator Ian Macdonald is doing in using the adjournment debate to raise this issue. This is not something that has occurred on the spur of the moment. The issue was raised with the government whip some months ago—and in writing—because people have been abusing the adjournment debate to deliberately use time to incorporate speeches and also to attack the opposition. It is not going to happen any further, Senator Macdonald, on my watch.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order, Senator Campbell.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Thank you, Mr Deputy President, for that erudite ruling. It took a long time for Senator Campbell to make his point. It was more like a speech, I would have thought. I accept—

Senator George Campbell —I’ll give you one if you want one.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Even you have to—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Ian Macdonald, address your comments to the chair rather than take interjections.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I am being interjected upon and I require your protection, Mr Deputy President. Even Senator George Campbell might understand the rules of the Senate after this time: you cannot speak for 10 minutes while allegedly making a point of order—but I am sure the Deputy President indicated that to you. Now the people have had the benefit of hearing me speak, as I mentioned.

Senator Campbell, I can understand your sensitivity to this issue. The first speech I made clearly indicated that the working men and women of Australia who used to be supporters of the Labor Party are no longer at all interested in your party, because your party has no interest in working men and women. In Tasmania the result of the election, which I mentioned in the earlier part of my speech, clearly demonstrates that. Your party and your leader, Senator Campbell, were more interested in the latte set in your town—and I guess you hang out in the coffee shops of Sydney as well: all those people who did not mind who they put out of a job in Tasmania. They did not mind all those timber workers and forestry workers that the Labor Party policy would have thrown out onto the street. They did not mind about those people in the smaller country communities of Tasmania whose major asset in the world, their house, would have had its value destroyed. They would have lost an enormous amount of money because of that, had the Labor Party won the election and your Tasmanian forest policy been put into play.

I am delighted that we won, not only because we will give another three years of good government to Australia but more importantly because those workers in Tasmania can now be guaranteed their jobs. We are interested in those workers. We are very interested in the blue-collar workers of this nation because they are the backbone of our nation. I am distressed that the Australian Labor Party, which had a long history of supporting working men and women, has simply thrown those working men and women to the wolves. What better way to demonstrate that can there be than the Labor Party’s ridiculous policy on forestry in Tasmania?

I am sorry to say that your colleague from Sydney still seems to think that it is a great policy. Mr Albanese—a mate of yours, no doubt, Senator Campbell, from the Left—wants to continue his campaign to destroy the jobs of those working men and women of Tasmania. Fortunately, our government cares about those people and we certainly will not be doing anything that will in any way damage their prospects of future employment and prosperity in the Australian nation. Senator George Campbell, I am delighted that you have given me the opportunity of speaking on the adjournment when I would have taken the easy way out of simply incorporating my speech. I am glad that you have had the benefit of listening to me in person. Thank you very much. I am very grateful to you for your action.