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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3877

Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaChief Nationals Whip) (11:29): I would like to rebut the previous speaker's comments. Since being elected in 2013, I have put over $1 billion in projects in Central Queensland. I have to laugh about the hypocrisy of Labor going on about Rookwood Weir, when it took over 600 days for a business case to be done and, once the federal government put $175 million on the table, they still then said, 'Oh, we need money for operational costs.' Well, I say: let's get on with the job.

As politicians we don't often talk about things that set the world on fire. We talk about jobs, industry, health services and education. These are things most people would consider not exciting but necessary. The other thing they think is necessary is to be consistent. We currently have a fellow who sits in this place who dismisses the desire of the people for consistency. This man prefers to take a tailored approach to public commentary. He can give you exactly what you want, depending on where he is when he says it. Some have labelled this approach 'shifty'; some have labelled it 'unbelievable'. This is someone who can visit the mining regions of Central Queensland, declare his support for the local workers and then, just days later, pop up in Victoria, in a by-election, declaring he does not support the expanding coal industry in Central Queensland and even offering to shut down projects in the Galilee Basin if he were to become Prime Minister. 'How can this be? you may ask. 'Surely they would be caught out in this world of modern communications,' and you would be right.

The good people in my electorate of Capricornia are fed up with being strung along by someone who would like to be Prime Minister but cannot even be straight with those he hopes to receive support from. It takes a certain kind of person to sell out the jobs of the workers he professes to be fighting for. Central Queensland is a vital cog in the machine that is the national economy. It is home to energy, mining, sugar and the beef capital of Australia. We understand how these industries work. Being responsible for those who work within these industries gives one a particularly privileged and detailed understanding of the industries that, quite literally, keep the lights on and the wheels turning.

I always enjoy my trips to Canberra because I get to witness some of the greatest acts of hypocrisy one can imagine. For those opposite to have the audacity to cry out in the name of inequality and workers' rights while they systematically undermine the ability for everyday people to get a job is something to behold. Shutting down the coal industry would force thousands into unemployment. Those opposite have no answers to this economic devastation. You can't solar-panel your way out of that one. In Central Queensland we have two major coal basins: the Bowen Basin in the east and, tucked behind it to the west, the Galilee Basin. The natural resources within these basins are immense and provide enormous benefit to the state and national economies and to the government's budget. The Bowen Basin is a household name in Queensland, as it should be throughout the rest of the country as well. The coal seams of the Bowen Basin provide for thousands of direct jobs and billions of dollars in gross domestic product. These coal seams are more than that to me, though. They are the basis for thousands of families and dozens of small communities across the region. These coal seams do not just create a carbon-emitting hole in the ground; they create a home for so many Central Queenslanders.

When it comes to important items like national security, foreign aid and natural disaster recovery, we will tie ourselves in knots and abandon internal ideologies to ensure a bipartisan approach, because these things are considered appropriate. Why is it that we cannot prioritise economic advantage for rural Australians? As a National and passionate regional member, I have seen firsthand how much can be achieved by pulling appropriate levers to unlock the economic potential for the people in the bush—the real battlers, the men and women of the weatherboard and iron. Why is it that we cannot prioritise bipartisan support for these people and their lives? I say to those opposite: go to towns like Clermont and Alpha where the projects are already having a positive effect and tell them they don't deserve an opportunity for a better life; tell them while you sip on your coal powered soy lattes that their jobs are somehow immoral and must end. I know you won't because you know that to do so would be hugely offensive. Continuing the same line in parliament or on the hustings is no different. If you don't have the gumption to say it to their faces, don't say it in this place. Bipartisanship is reserved for important issues. What could be more important than the economic development of our region? I will keep fighting for them and I hope that some of those opposite can join me in fighting to give these people a real chance.