Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Page: 75

Senator JOYCE (5:44 PM) —Thank you, Mr President. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge my parents who brought me into this world, my wife, Natalie, and children Bridgette, Julia, Caroline and Odette who support me in this world, and my God who oversees all and who hopefully I will meet in the next. I read this speech to my wife in the TV room at home and was impressed how diligently she listened until I realised she was asleep.

To the people of Queensland, I am your senator and your servant. In serving you to my best ability I will be fulfilling the best role for our country and fulfilling the constitutional role laid out for our nation at its inception and after years of deliberation. For all Queenslanders who are here for the first time, you might be surprised to know that the colour scheme was once blue in this chamber but we have since had it changed to maroon and I hope you are happy with the result.

What cannot be changed and is still the dilemma is that politics talks in riddles and packs with verbiage what is absolutely crystal clear at the mothers morning tea or the local hotel. Politics appears to be the art of telling half the story and your followers guess the rest while using the absence of the complete message as a defence against the implication drawn by your deriders.

When things get contentious we blame our faction or the joint party room as a reason that plasters over a personal political ambition. As with human nature, this is not unique to Australia but leaves a political monoculture that can be less than inspiring and does not give credit to the public’s ability to hear all sides of the debate and understand that a decision which favours one side has to be made.

I know it may be truly naive but it would be nice to see the debate unencumbered in this chamber, not in the caucus room or in the joint party room. Neither of these are mentioned in the Constitution and it is a convenient appendix designed by political parties that was specifically not entertained in the Constitution.

Our nation stands at the edge of a new epoch. Together in this house we have all been given the immense honour and responsibility to navigate our Australia in a world tormented or governed by new elements—elements such as new diseases, including the H5M1 virus which could decimate our country’s social and economic fabric; Islamic or other fundamentalism; or, as mentioned here earlier tonight, the emergence of China as a new superpower. Managed well, these issues will drive our nation’s sails to a new destiny or, alternatively, not managed, cast us upon the savage rocks. Eternal vigilance alone will not sustain us. It has to be a partner of considered but resolute action. There will be as much in amendments to the rules of this century as there was between the turmoil of the 20th century and its antecedent.

Compounding this is that the efficacy of previous alliances may wane as new threats to our belief structure rise. There is only one defence to this and that is our internal belief that we must construct a strong and self-sufficient nation on a platform of a society where children live quiet and unaffected prior to the turmoil of adulthood. To achieve this we must encourage a just parliament, vibrant enough to consider all alternatives.

There is a new troika whose reins we hold. The horses are, firstly, the relationship between the new international dynamics of emerging superpowers and our future in reference between that and our current economic and personal freedoms. Next is the survival of the Australian principle to pursue your own potential in business and belief so as to attain your highest potential of personal freedom by being master of the greatest portion of your life. Whilst pursuing this there must be the respect of the totality of the lives of others, irrespective of what stage that human life is at. Finally, to be brave enough in this house that we believe that it is not only good for our nation but intrinsically good for our region and our world that we develop a strong and robust country that inspires the freedoms we hold dear as a common goal of all peoples and, as such, is our legacy to the world in which we live.

My small part in this greater design is to work with and be considerate of all my colleagues here in protecting those wider principles whilst pursuing those issues that the National Party has given a commitment to the people of Queensland that I would pursue on their behalf. My National Party Senate team took to the people of Queensland four issues and these were framed on the greater freedom of the individual in balance with the greater interest of the community in which we live: the overcentralisation of the retail market, mandated ethanol usage, zonal taxation and core family values. As particular as these issues are, they reflected a wider and deeper philosophical commitment by the National Party to the lives of its constituents and reflected the Senate’s role as the house representing not a factional or particular interest but the interests of the state.

The purpose of the economy is not to produce the lowest price product for the end consumer. That may be a consequence of a good economy but it is not the purpose. The purpose of the economy is to create the greater nexus between the wealth of the nation and its people, and it generally does this through small business.

Today we have accepted a situation in Australia that would be unacceptable elsewhere in the world: we allow two retailers to control between 75 and 85 per cent of our retail market. In the USA you need to count the top 12 retailers before you arrive at the market share that our top two have. In the UK it is the top eight. In Australia this disenfranchises the right of our citizens to attain the greatest level of their personal freedom by attaining the highest level of control over their destiny, which comes by being master of your own business.

The freedom I will pursue is the choice to enter and chart your own commercial life and in doing so give a greater breadth to the economy in which we are all benefactors. New and expanded products, new managerial techniques, new holders of wealth investing in new areas of the nation is a vision that is peculiar to any economy or part thereof that stays in front of the vast wave of economic prosperity. Likewise, we must look to those areas of our nation that have been left behind or have never been part of the economic prosperity that is so apparent in Australia today.

This government, the government under whose stewardship we currently prosper, has responsibility to look into the corners where the dust has settled and there is a socioeconomic bind. If a regional area produces little or no return when we compare the tax revenue with the social security cost then little is lost by capping the tax rate. If we cap it for the individual who both works and lives in this area then we have proceeded on the first step to inspire development of new areas of our continent. We have to believe that this house represents a nation that has the bravery to frame a new chapter that utilises the gifts God has bestowed on us in a form that goes beyond minor manipulations of the residential construction based service industries of current major metropolitan coastal centres.

We must bolt on to those sections of the economy that place product on a boat that sustains the standard of living that so many of our citizens take as a birthright. You cannot be a great nation of kitchen renovators. In developing our current industry strengths in new areas by new entrants we also relieve the public infrastructure gridlock that is becoming so apparent in the Sydney basin or the south-east corner of Queensland. There is little wrong with the roads in Sydney or Brisbane—it is just that there are too many cars on them. If we do not decisively move now to give a greater reason to live elsewhere, preferably inland, then what are we to expect, except an exacerbation of the current water, transport, social and environmental problems that are becoming more and more evident in these megacities in the most sparsely populated nation on earth?

The only thing that is stopping us is the fear of trying. It seems peculiar for a nation that prides itself on the stoic heroism of Gallipoli or the Kokoda Track that we are fearful of setting up a concrete new agenda of development of new areas. Further, it is essential to deal with the evermore evident problem—of which water restrictions in Sydney and the Gold Coast are only one of the most minor of the impending manifestations—of an urban coastal development saturation point.

Our nation cannot expect to prevail with its transport needs if it has to import an oil based product that is limited in supply, with an ever escalating demand driven by nations such as India and China. Every 10 years, at the current rate, India and China will alone produce a middle-class the size of the United States. And, as will be the case with many products essential to our day-to-day lives, they are quite happy to pay a price for fuel that makes our economy unviable, as we could not afford to operate with that overhead.

As a nation, we have to prepare for this. We cannot deal with it once it has arrived. It will overwhelm us and cause a dislocation that we may not have experienced before. Mandating ethanol is a path that offers the nation not only a way to deal with our own transport requirements but also the ability to supply others with the fundamentals of theirs. Mandating ethanol assists in alternatives to deal with our ever-escalating trade account deficit that is itself driven by the chase for the expensive oil based fuel of our oil based fuel economy. Ethanol allows us to develop the seed base for Australian producers to be the benefactors of the biorenewable fuel industry of the 21st century, and not the casualties of it.

We are a nation that relies on terms of trade and those items that we put on the boat to pay for the goods that maintain our standard of living. These products generally come from the regional areas of our nation and we must bolt on to these areas and not replace them with imports that greater exacerbate our vulnerability. If I sell you a pizza, or you do my tax return, or a solicitor fulfils his conveyancing for a client, even though all these jobs are inherently valuable and part of our gross domestic product, they do not pay for one drop of our nation’s fuel that is imported, nor the imported car it is in. We have to ask ourselves: what did we put on the boat today to support our nation and what did we consume that came off it? If the equation is unfavourable, make sure you support those who balance the equation for us all.

The future of the National Party has to evolve and is evolving. John Anderson correctly pointed out that there are fewer than 100,000 farmers, and so the vast, vast majority of our voters are not farmers, nor would we survive if they were. We are the party of small business and our heritage is that of the small business of primary production. We are now the party of many, including builders, plumbers, newsagents, hairdressers, pharmacists, fishermen, accountants, real estate agents, graziers, regional townspeople and those who believe that the socially conservative society is a protection against the pains of social experimentation and who prefer not to take the risk. When large and small business clash we will support small business. As such, we should strengthen section 46 of the Trade Practices Act, increase the powers of the ACCC and investigate divestiture powers when market domination is unwarranted, unmanageable and unable to be curtailed in other ways.

In the Senate, I believe that my job is to represent my state, Queensland. Not only do I believe that, but it was the decision in formulating the Commonwealth at Federation that this would be the case. The same Constitution that has given our country the period of unbridled internal freedom should not be manipulated unless absolutely vital and no alternative exists. The Australian people so categorically endorse this when we take into account the vast majority of their decisions on these issues at a referendum. The questions have now to be asked: has the custom and practice created a constitutional change by default that has never been taken to the Australian people? Have we evolved to a point where a new form of voting by secret ballot in the Senate would address this and bring a better representation of the particular issues of states or areas within?

There is more in common between the centres of south-east Queensland than between the south-east of our state and the north. Perceptions on issues such as vegetation management, although predominantly a state issue, are one of many indications of this. A free and unencumbered vote by those from different states or different areas within states may reflect this. It also includes perceptions on issues such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the feeling that many have that the yoke of environmental conscience has been foisted on them without fair compensation of the loss of income or loss of asset. This is an eternal and justifiable complaint. Brick-and-tile suburbia of the capital cities have to be mindful of the encumbrances they place on the property of others, as it works to the detriment of the value of landed assets—the calibrator of personal wealth so fundamental to our freedom. It also detracts from the capacity of our nation to produce export income, which is the calibrator of our standard of living.

For all those who are wondering why I have not mentioned Telstra, well, it is an issue in motion. If we had not fought for parity of service and parity of price in this house then it would be sold with only the conditions achieved in the lower house. It is difficult to argue against something passed by my colleagues in the lower house but I do not resign from it. I am not convinced as to the reason to sell Telstra. Similarly, I was never convinced as to the reasons to sell the Commonwealth Bank. I am convinced that the ramifications of not participating in the debate would be to the detriment of regional Australia, as the decision made by others may be far worse. There are those who have called for me to be expelled from the coalition because of it, but that just makes me motivated to get it right.

Likewise, the anomaly that we have managed to package the cessation of compulsory student unionism with sporting infrastructure—a long-held, accepted part of university life—is something to behold. That some believe it is abominable that you have to reach into your pocket for $100 for the football, cricket and netball courts, but are apparently at ease with the fact that the nation reaches into its pockets for tens of thousands of dollars per year per student to keep the vast majority of university students in tuition is perplexing to say the least. These are two different issues. It is obvious that they are, and they should be treated as such.

Debate on these and other issues will be the case whilst the coalition has a majority in both houses. It shows the Australian people there is nothing to fear from the coalition having a majority in both houses when the senators fulfil their duty their Constitution gives them to represent their state as the best means of representing their nation.

Away from partisan politics, I would dearly love to have this house open its heart and have the courage to have a broader debate on when we attain our right to be nurtured, protected and supported to our full potential. At what point between conception and when we leave the moorings of our family as an independent adult do we attain the rights of a human with the protection it affords, and what is the philosophical premise of this position? I believe, if we are brave enough to have a respectful, non-politically-aligned debate on this, the most important of all issues, then we will have already grown by reason of this and as such be on the road to being a greater nation.

Abortion is the slavery debate of our time. It is brokered by good people on both sides. Long after the annals of time have forgotten that there ever was a National Party, a Liberal Party or a Labor Party, the immutable argument of the worth of human life will prevail and the acknowledgment of those who stood to defend it. My debate is with the action, not with the qualities or attributes of the person. There are no winners on abortion; all are left scarred and hurt, and there has to be a better way.

The fact that I stand here is a testament to firstly my wife, Natalie, and my children—to my mum and dad and family, who did what so many families do in so quiet and unassuming a way for little or no reward, to teachers such as my grandmother Troy, James Rogers, Mel Morrow, Father Drake and to the National Party and its supporters, such as Bill and Marilyn Taylor, Martin Tenni, Lenore Johnson, Denise Jeitz, John Grabbe, John and Beth Honeycombe, Terry Bolger, the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen—who was my mentor and whom I never met—Lady Flo Bjelke Petersen, who is my mentor now, the Weller family, Charlie Brownlow, the marvellous people of St George, Ron Bauhnish and so many, many more who have placed so much faith in me that I only hope to somehow repay them by respecting and working diligently for our state of Queensland, and by doing so making our nation of Australia a continuing legacy of justice and freedom.

I would like to finally acknowledge the work of Len Harris, and it should be some solace that we have replaced one regional based office in Queensland with another. Although there are many issues with which I disagreed, I respect absolutely that those who supported him have an equal right as any to be heard and treated with respect.

In summary to my purpose, I reflect on that of my grandmother Troy Roche, who left me with this piece from Kipling, and I conclude by leaving all here with the same. I hope that it may serve all of us in some fashion in the aspirations it lays out. It says:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the will which says to them ‘hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that is in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a man my son.