House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Private Members' Business

Protection of National Parks

8:52 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

On the eighth day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker.' So God made a farmer. This motion, moved by the member for Makin, is about caretakers, conservation and ensuring our beautiful and productive landscape is preserved for future generations. There is no argument about that.

In reflecting upon the intent of this motion, I was reminded of a speech given by the conservative American radio announcer Paul Harvey at the Future Farmers of America Convention in 1978 entitled 'So God made a farmer.' Members might remember this speech because, though decades old, it was the theme of a Dodge car commercial during this year's Superbowl in the United States. The theme of this speech is remarkable and that is why I am quoting it during the debate tonight. Paul Harvey is right: farmers are the original environmentalists; farming is an exercise in conservation. No-one understands more than a farmer how imperative it is to treat the land in a manner which ensures a harvest be sought the following year. Yet this motion fails to recognise the significant contribution farmers make to conservation efforts every year—a further sign that there is just not the level of understanding necessary of how much farmers value their land. It is their biggest asset. Ensuring it is cared for and tended to will help a farmer with the following year's harvest. Yet debate in this place paints farmers as land-destroying environmental vandals. You will hear those opposite put down farmers and make the continued assumption that farming is a non-environmentally-friendly exercise.

Tonight during debate on this particular motion we heard from inner city suburban Labor members. I do not know where the regional Labor members are on this particular motion. It really is a typical stunt by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities—he represents a southern Sydney suburban area—the same minister who has stripped money away from Landcare funding. Labor can argue all they like but, whilst he is taking money away from them in the forward estimates, the Landcare volunteers are out there, helping to protect the environment and our land. We just heard from the member for Hindmarsh talking about every corner of Australia. If Labor had their way, being pulled by the nose by the member for Melbourne, every corner of Australia would indeed be locked up so that parts of my region—

Mr Wilkie interjecting

I hear 'Hear, hear' from the member for Denison. He also thinks that every corner should be locked up. Maybe I am doing him a disservice there, but certainly in parts of my area national parks have been locked up so that pests and weeds, and feral animals can just take over. That is what is happening and, unfortunately, for people who were working on cattle stations and farming properties, their areas have been locked up, supposedly, for future generations. Unfortunately, as I say, these areas are now no-go zones. We heard the member for La Trobe talking about prospecting. Fair dinkum! If it were up to that side, we would never have discovered any of the resources that have blessed our nation with wonderful wealth.

We heard from the member for Leichhardt, talking about the live cattle export fiasco and how some of the national parks in Queensland were former cattle stations. Surely, it just makes common sense to allow those cattle, which are too heavy and too old to be now sent for export, to graze on those areas which were once cattle stations and which are now locked up. It just makes sense and it is the humane thing to do.

I heard the member for Kennedy say 'Hear, hear' when the member for Leichhardt suggested that. He knows, as well as anybody on this side and as anybody with any common sense, that that would be a good policy so that we can help those cattle farmers and the cattle.

We heard the previous speaker, the member for Hindmarsh, talking about logging. If it were up to that side of politics, they would probably stop all logging. Most of the logging is done very conservatively. I note that, in the Tumut shire, 70 per cent of that shire's income comes from logging. If it were up to that side of parliament, that would all stop. That valuable industry, which provides so much wealth and prosperity for a regional community such as Tumut, would indeed be stopped.

This motion is ridiculous. All the speakers from inner city areas are too citycentric and are not focused at all on regional Australia. This is a ridiculous debate and should not even be happening. (Time expired)


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