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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 70


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (16:24): Let me be caring towards my fellow crossbenchers, at the start, and say I agree with them totally in asking: just how competent is the government? You can't put an inspector on a boat!

With the live cattle trade, I was absolutely shocked to find out that Minister Truss had known for five years about the cruel way in which they were killing the cattle in Indonesia and had done nothing about it. The meat and livestock corporation had known about it and done absolutely nothing about it. Industry representative organisations had known about it and done absolutely nothing about it. If they are saying something should be done about the cruelty to animals on the boats then I agree with them totally. But if members here stand up and say the matter should be debated—well, they've all had a 10-minute go at it. I don't know how much longer they want to speak about it.

I've been away from this place, thank bloody goodness, for about six or seven weeks and I've listened to the people of Australia. People are not interested in you bleating and howling about sheep. They want a job next week. If you say, 'They'll get jobs in the sheep-killing works,' I've got news for you, because I represent the biggest cattle area in Australia and I've been through it. Our party is based upon meatworkers. It should be called the 'Knuth Australian Party' rather than the Katter Australian Party. A Knuth was president of one of the biggest meatworks in Australia, and one of our executive members was the secretary of that meatworks. So don't tell me about meatworks. I'm intimately familiar with them.

We had seven of our nine meatworks in North Queensland close down when there were virtually no live cattle going out of this country because we didn't have the cattle numbers. And we couldn't raise the cattle numbers because we have a drought every year and you people won't let us use the water. You're going to keep it. What are you keeping it for? I want to know what you're keeping it for. You can't say it's stopping the flow in the rivers. In North Queensland we don't have rivers; we have a flood and then we have dry creek beds. All we're asking for is a little tiny bit of those floodwaters to be held back.

But let me return specifically to the question. What you did with your ban on live cattle, my friend, was to cut our incomes clean in half. We had a person committing suicide—and I don't hesitate to say it—every five days. I said it was once every two weeks and I was wrong. It was once every two weeks in Queensland. That didn't include the other states. So thank you! It was a wonderful job you did in destroying us completely. And the farmers of Australia were destroyed completely, because our biggest industry is the cattle industry. You took one-fifth of our market out from under us and the price collapsed completely, to less than half. What happens then? We're now fighting to keep the last two meatworks open, because there are no cattle. When the price dropped by half, they had to sell their breeders. For those of you who don't understand farming—and, clearly, the previous speakers don't—when you're up against the wall and the banks are foreclosing, you've got to do whatever you've got to do, and that means selling your breeders. The breeders went into the meatworks weighing nothing. We got paid nothing for them. But it staved off the banks for a year or two. Now it will probably be 10 or 15 years before the cattle numbers are restored. If you pull this stunt, you'll have exactly the same reaction that you had in the cattle industry. And it won't help the meatworks. You'll be absolutely, definitely shutting meatworks in Australia, because the sheep numbers will not be there.

We said to the great geniuses in this place: if you abolish the wool marketing scheme, you will destroy the industry. Within three years the price had dropped to one-third what it had been before statutory marketing. It was ironic that one of the so-called socialists in this place, Keating, said I was the last socialist left in the parliament. I probably am, because I'm the only one who believes the government should interfere in the marketplace when the marketplace is not working. And it most certainly wasn't working in the sheep industry. When that great man Doug Anthony introduced the scheme, the price tripled over the next three years. That woebegone good for nothing Keating removed the scheme—a man who was put in this parliament by the fathers of arbitration. When I walk into this parliament, I proudly clench my fist with Charlie McDonald, the leader of the Labor movement in Australia—he was the second or third speaker in this place—because I'm very proud to carry on those traditions that Charlie McDonald had of giving work to his workers.

We need the sheep numbers out there, and what you are saying is: 'Abolish the sheep industry. That's the answer.' If you are naive enough to believe that you can take one-tenth of the market away and still have a sheep industry then you are obviously toweringly ignorant of economics. People know that with a five per cent undersupply, the market is going to go through the roof; with a five per cent oversupply, the market will collapse through the floor. That's what the great Ron Camm in the state of Queensland—the father of the cheapest electricity in the world—told me, and I found it to be absolutely accurate. You're taking more than five per cent away from the market and, when you do that, the market will collapse, as it did in the cattle industry and we will have the same disaster in the sheep industry as we had in the cattle industry. If you want to fix it up and if you are in any way genuine, you should be calling upon the government to properly police what is going on here.

Is it very difficult to have two people on a boat? The expense is negligible compared with the value of that boat—to ensure that the cruelty to animals is not occurring. People that live in the bush with animals love animals. They wouldn't live in the bush and work with animals if they didn't.

Let me return to what is being proposed here: the removal of, I don't know, 10 per cent off the market, which will collapse the market for sheep in Australia. Now, we've lost 70 per cent of the herd, thanks to Mr Keating and the so-called Socialist Party that is actually the free market party in this place. I hate to break it to the Liberals but you're not the free market party. If you compare how many assets were sold and how many industries were deregulated, these blokes beat you hands down. But that leaves me—well, I never thought I would ever agree with anything that Mr Keating said, but he said I was the last socialist left in the parliament. I'm starting to think one thing Keating and I did agree on is that I am. I can most certainly say that the people beside me here that I share the crossbenches with and the people on both sides of this parliament are most certainly not. They don't believe we should go back in and take the electricity industry over.

If you like to watch programs on the ABC, which I don't, did you see it when I said that the only answer to the electricity industry was to nationalise the industry, and the whole of the audience, 600 people, just screamed in applause and, if you look at the pictures, I was mobbed when I walked out of the audience. So you people are so far off the mark that you don't even know what planet you are living on.

If you go up there and you say in the cattle areas of North Queensland that you are going to ban the live cattle trade, well I'm not taking any life insurance out on you when you go up there and start talking about it. I wouldn't be taking any life insurance out on you when you go into country New South Wales or Victoria—as to what is going to happen, because they may not know at this stage; they may be quite friendly to you at the stage, but I would hate to see what's going to happen to you in the longer term.

Now, let me state again for the parliament, quietly and calmly: if you take five per cent of the market away, you will completely collapse the price. That is what has happened in every industry throughout my lifetime. Sir Joseph McAvoy, the great leader of the sugar industry; Ron Camm, the great father of the cheapest electricity in the world and father of the coalmining industry in Queensland have said that again and again and again that if you take that market away, you will collapse the industry completely and you will have no sheep, because people are not going to keep running sheep when it is costing them money and they're losing money. They will shift out of sheep, get rid of them and move into cattle and grain and other alternatives. That is what is going to happen.

If you think you are going to help the meatworkers, think again. We are now fighting to keep our two meatworks—all we've got left in North Queensland. Out of a cattle herd of twenty-five million, we have five million in North Queensland and we are flat out keeping two meatworks open. It will be another five or 10 years before we recover from the dreadful catastrophe and it could have been fixed up by the government simply by— (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: The original question was that the motion be agreed to. To this the Manager of Opposition Business has moved as an amendment that the words 'the next sitting' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The question now is that the amendment be agreed to.