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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8626

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:34): It gives me no pleasure to follow on from Senator Lines, but I do have to respond to what is a manufactured scare campaign by Senator Lines and her ilk on the other side of the chamber. I would make this point: when a senator walks into this chamber and does not have a hook to hang their hat on, they make stuff up. We have seen the race button pushed today by Senator Lines in a grubby display of xenophobia, in which she said that we are going to import foreign childcare workers, in an attempt to whip up some hysteria about something that has not even occurred yet. Of course, those on the other side have a sudden, new-found appreciation for the reporting of The Australian, which, when they were in government, they denoted as the hate media. They used to mock anyone who quoted from it. That shows you just how shallow and removed from reality they have become.

I would rather turn my attention to the important factual matters attached to protecting the long-term safeguards for the black-throated finch habitat and to preserving the ornamental snake and the yakka skink and making sure that they are in a protected area. That is what this government has done in going through the approval for the Adani coalmine in Queensland, a matter which has been widely approved of, agreed to and celebrated by the people of Queensland, including the Labor minister for mines, Anthony Lynham. In going through the approval process for that coalmine, there was the protection of 31,000 hectares of habitat that is important to the black-throated finch. On the other side, they may not think the black-throated finch is important, but I do. Similarly, I think the ornamental snake is absolutely important. One of the environmental processes that had to be met was that there were strong habitat protections for the ornamental snake. One hundred and thirty five hectares of habitat has been protected for that snake. I congratulate this government for taking into account not only the importance of coalmining for the Australian people, our export industry and the coalmining workers but also the environmental protections for the ornamental snake.

Similarly, it would be remiss of me not to mention the protections for the yakka skink, with which you would be familiar, Mr Deputy President. The yakka skink is important to protect for many reasons but there are 5,600 hectares of protected area for the yakka skink. These are important, because we have taken conservation advice. It just goes to show that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, unlike those on the other side of the chamber. We have put in place a circumstance where we have a large coalmine that has comprehensively guaranteed work, exports, employment and the economy while also putting in place these strong environmental protections.

I think that is an outstanding win-win. But what do we hear from the other side? Do we hear any praise at all for this government? Of course not—because that would be too bipartisan and it would mean we are working cooperatively to get positive outcomes for Australia. It is not just the fact that they do not care about the black throated finch or the ornamental snake. I have not heard one of them talk about the ornamental snake in my whole time here—or the yakka skink for that matter. Where are they when the yakka skink comes up? They are silent. It is a disgrace! They want to whinge, carp and whine but they will not stand up for our native habitat—and that is an environmental embarrassment for the Labor Party. Although they are not prepared to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves, they are willing to manufacture scare campaigns to alarm people in important industries in this country. I say to those on the other side: reject the politics of fear, reject the vile xenophobic reactions that some of you will seek to play on, and look at the positives for both sides of the equation. We have got to balance our environment with the economy and balance work with flexibility. These are the challenges for the new millennium. (Time expired)