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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 13994


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (10:09): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

In writing my history of Australia, there was an interesting anecdote when Laurence Hartnett was trying to convince everybody that cars should be made in Australia; we should not buy them all from overseas. One of his key backers—they were talking in an American context at the time—said that when they were building the Brooklyn Bridge, they proposed that they would have to get the English to build the bridge, because they were the world's greatest bridge builders and it was a great challenge in engineering. The American Secretary of State said: 'I know this: if we, Americans, build the bridge, we will have the bridge and the money.'

The sale of Darwin Port—we will not have the port and we will not have the money. We are doing the double: we will have neither. If the House could reflect upon the fact that half of the entire coastline of Australia lies between the Port of Townsville and the Port of Port Hedland. There is a big indent with the Gulf of Carpentaria but, if you stretch that indent out, it is half the Australian coastline. The American fleet, which has protected us and stopped the invasion of our country, needs deep water. Darwin is the only port in the South Pacific, and the only port has now vanished and the Americans are not happy.

I cannot remember in my 41 years as a member of parliament a President of the United States giving a pointed, direct slight to a head of government except where they were in a position of conflict in the Cold War. You have got to understand, when they were proposing that the Queensland government sell the Port of Townsville, I said, 'You can forget about development up here, because no-one is going to develop where someone has a toll over the only road leading out of the area. If you've only got one way that you can get that product, whatever it might be, out, and there is only one tollgate there, then you would be a damned fool to open up any industry at the back of Townsville.' The people of that area listened to us, and the LNP were slaughtered throughout that area in the next election.

They talk to us about free trade agreements as if there is something free there. It is not free. What it is doing is fettering the power of the Australian people to be able to make laws and regulations for the government of this country. You let a mining company in and they propose to mine in a certain way, and we find out that that mining is very detrimental to the health of the workers or the people living in the surrounding areas. It might be enormously destructive of our river systems but, if you let them in under certain agreements, then you cannot pass laws after those agreements are in place. That is the nature of the free trade agreements that we getting here. We are not giving freedom to someone to trade; what we are doing is fettering the sovereign powers of the Australian people—that is what is really going on.

As for foreign acquisitions, the FIRB did not back Woodside Burma. I have got to admit that that did occur, but now that Woodside Burma is going to be sold to overseas interests anyway, it would appear that all they were doing was just asking for more money. It was rejected.

The dairy factories of Australia, before the brilliant and clever deregulation of the industry undertaken by both parties in this place, were almost all then owned by the Australian people and by the farmers themselves. They are now almost all owned—with the exception of Murray-Goulburn—by foreign corporations. On the Friday we were on 60c; on the Monday we were on 40c. It happened a little bit more slowly in Victoria, but it was worse there.

The sugar mills were all Australian owned before deregulation. Once again, the removal of the tariffs and the deregulation of the sugar industry took us a for a ride of about 20 per cent—and that is your profit margin, so you are now operating at a loss. Both side of this parliament—and, I might add the crossbenches, both here and in the other place—have refused to go ahead with ethanol. Our sugar mills, after all this wonderful free trade and deregulation, are now all owned by foreigners, with the exception of Mackay—and the New South Wales mills are still holding out, God bless them, under the great leadership of Manildra and Ian Causley, formerly a very excellent member of this parliament.

This is not lightweight stuff. These are two of our 11 biggest industries—and they are now all foreign owned. Food processing in this country is over 80 per cent foreign owned—when, again, our big factory in Queensland, Golden Circle, used to be Australian owned. So what has the success of your policies been? Do you not think they should be judged on their outcomes? You are selling off Australia. We all know that. There are people here of no conscience and no country. They know no allegiance to our country and they know no allegiance to their conscience. These outcomes have been diabolical for this country. The latest asset they have sold is the Port of Darwin, seriously putting at risk the ability of the Americans to help us. I do not want to go into the precarious nature of Australia's future defence-wise.

In mining, if you go back 17 years, over 80 per cent of the mining industry of Australia was Australian owned. BHP, the biggest company in the world, was Australian owned. Mount Isa Mines, the fourth biggest mining company in Australia, was Australian owned. Over 80 per cent of our resources were then Australian owned. From the last report I saw, however, 83 per cent of our mineral resources are now foreign owned—and that does not include coal seam gas, which is one of the biggest ones.

Let us have a quick look at coal seam gas. It bears looking at. It has taken all the water from inland Queensland and left us with a pincushion of poisoned pins through our aquifers. What have we got out of it? We got a quick sugar hit of $50 billion or $60 billion of capital investment. But that is gone now. It was just there for four years. What do we have? The coal seam gas industry is almost completely foreign owned. It employs virtually nobody—I doubt whether there would be 2,000 jobs in the whole industry. We have had $25 billion of capital investment come in from overseas—this is our biggest area for capital imports outside of coal and iron ore—and it has just boomeranged straight back out again to the owners overseas, with no tax having been paid and nothing much at all left behind. We are giving it away and with it we are giving away—and this is where sovereignty comes in—our ability to say, 'Those holes you have drilled are poisoning the Great Artesian Basin, upon which our beef and our wool industry depend.'

The free trade agreement allows the Chinese to bring their own people in to man the Port of Darwin. They will be new initiatives, so it comes within the terms of the FTA. So you now do not own the only outlet for your product. It is now owned by a monopoly gatekeeper—a Checkpoint Charlie who can charge anything he likes. The Australian people are fed up and they are going to express that at the polling booth. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Wilkie: I second the motion of the honourable and indeed indefatigable member for Kennedy and reserve my right to speak.

Debate adjourned.