House debates

Thursday, 13 September 2018


Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, Customs Tariff Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018; Second Reading

11:26 am

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | Hansard source

The last speaker is absolute proof that, if you don't know what you're talking about, you'd better sit down and shut up. It's one thing to be a fool; it's another thing to get up and prove yourself to be one. I very vividly remember getting out of bed and listening to Paul Keating state that Australia would no longer be a giant sheep run and an elongated coal pit; we would be the freest economy on earth. There would be no impediments to products coming into Australia and that would make us strong economically. I picked up one of my boots, threw it at the wall and said: 'Bloody hell'—excuse my language, Madam Acting Speaker Bird—'Now I've got to look after the workers as well! It's hard enough looking after the farmers and rural people; now I have to look after the workers and the trade unions!' That started the very strong relationship I have with the trade union movement. We can see his handiwork and we can see the handiwork of the Public Service and what they've done to our country. We can see it now clearly.

I'll tell you another little story. There was a little kid and his daddy had bought a Holden motor car. It was the 12th Holden motor car to come into Queensland. His daddy walked around the car and he said, 'Australians built this car!' He was almost jumping up and down. 'Look, it's got clearance for the country roads in Australia. We don't have many bitumen roads. Look, it's got room for six, because we have big families in Australia. None of the frilly polished wood you get in the British cars or the big Yank tanks. This is a car for the people. This is an Australian car. Australians built this car.' He was filled with pride for his nation. That bloke was my daddy and I happened to be that little kid watching this performance. Australia can't build a motor car. We built our last motor car. Australia's built its last fridge. And who was responsible for this? The people sitting in this House. They are the people responsible for this. They launched on free trade.

If you have free trade—and I heard Paul Keating say this—there are only two possibilities. You go down to the wage structures of your competitor nations, namely the Asian countries—China and India and these countries—or you close down your industry. They are the only two possibilities. Not surprisingly, we've closed down the motor vehicle industry. We've closed down the white-goods industry—the last factory closed in Orange three years ago. I was campaigning in Sydney, which I'll be doing again shortly. The glassworks had gone in the area I was campaigning in. The Bonds underwear factory had gone. There were a huge number of people employed there. The meatworks had gone. That is before the government's free trade, and I won't go into that. The motor vehicle parts industry had gone. The aero-engineers had gone—4,000 jobs gone overseas. That's the result of your free trade policies.

I defy anybody in this place to point out to me a single nation on this earth that free trades. Let me be very specific. The last landmark study done by the OECD on agriculture set the value of government to farmers at 41 per cent. That meant farmers throughout the world get 41 per cent of their income from the government. No-one was below 37 per cent. All of them were pretty close to 40 per cent in their support levels for their farmers—41 per cent of their income coming from the government. There were only two exceptions: Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, the country that was on 36¾ per cent was Canada. You have to say, well, the colonial spot marks are showing here, aren't they, in flashing neon lights—the three British colonies are the only countries on earth! They trained us to be colonial genuflectors and mendicants. They trained us that way. Flip a 20c coin, and on the back of it is the picture of a lady in England. She might be a lovely lady. I'm no republican, but I don't know what an English lady is doing on our coins. It's about time we started growing up. It's about time we started growing up and becoming Australians.

Let's have a look at Mr Keating's handiwork. I've spoken about Sydney. I'll speak now about North Queensland, my electorate. The free marketeers deregulated the tobacco industry. Now there is no tobacco industry. We lost over 2,000 jobs at Mareeba. At Myrtleford in Victoria they lost over 3½ thousand jobs. What for? In the dairy industry we lost 1,500 jobs. We lost $1 billion in export earnings as a result of the deregulation of the dairy industry, and my area suffered the loss of 1,500 jobs. We were getting 59c for our dairy product; after deregulation we're getting 41c. Woolworths and Coles wrote a letter of thanks to the government and the Prime Minister of Australia saying, 'Thank you, we just made another $1 billion a year.' The price went up 25 per cent for the consumers and down 30 per cent for the farmers. Fishing—partially free trade; partially our green friends, at it again. We lost 1,200 jobs in fishing. We lost 2,000 jobs in timber. Whilst some will argue, again, that it was the closure of the timber industry by the Greens, it was also the fact that we can't compete against the timber coming in from overseas. The timber industry is gone. We deregulated the wool industry. When it was regulated, by Doug Anthony, that great man, the price for wool throughout the world—we were the world's wool industry—went up 300 per cent. When Keating undermined and then abolished the marketing system, the price dropped to one-third of what it was before. What a coincidence! Well, I did economics at university, and it's not a coincidence. In each case you are selling into an oligopolistic marketplace. There are only two people to sell food to in Australia—Woolworths and Coles—and there are only two people to buy it from. And you preach to us about free trade! Well, go and preach it to Woolworths and Coles and then go and sue your university for the stupid education it gave you. Seventy per cent of the sheep in our wool industry have now gone. We have no wool industry. And yet, when Keating deregulated that industry, it was our biggest export item. It was bigger than coal. We were on $6,000 million a year in the wool industry and coal was on $5.9 billion a year. So, with his policies, Keating single-handedly destroyed the industry.

Now, if you dumb politicians are not getting the message, I can tell you that the Australian people are going to start giving it to you, big time! All I can say is: in my homeland, where six or seven per cent of Australia's population live—North Queensland—we're giving it to you right now. You're down to 30 per cent, both of you, and we're up to around 25 per cent. In fact, with One Nation we've got more than 30 per cent, more than you blokes. So it's only a matter of time before the rest of Australia starts to understand what you have done to your nation. Australia has made its last refrigerator. Australia has made its last motor car. Hundreds of thousands of Australians have lost their jobs. You must understand that if you want to buy your biros, your glasses, the leather in your shoes and the cloth in your suit from overseas then you've got to sell something, and this country's got nothing to sell now. You've destroyed it. There are only two things that we sell now: iron ore and coal. And thanks to the education system and the brainlessness of this place, 60 per cent of Australia wants the coal industry closed down. When I say that, I'm not plucking figures out of the air. The coal industry is worth about $100 billion a year to the Australian economy in export earnings. The iron ore industry is worth about $120 billion. The next item down might be gold, beef or aluminium; they're all about $12,000 million. But they're nothing compared to the big two. So it's quite right for me to say this country only has two exports now, and 60 per cent of the nation wants one of those exports closed down completely.

My colleague in Queensland, Shane Knuth, a member of parliament for our party, said, 'Mr Beattie told us that if we deregulated the electricity industry there would be competition in the market and the price of electricity would go down.' Well, the price of electricity in Queensland had been $670 for 11 years, similar to Victoria and similar to South Australia. New South Wales hides the figures; we can't get the figures out of New South Wales. But for 11 years the price was $670. For the next 11 years it soared from $670 straight up through the roof to $2,400, and it's not stopping there. Well, surprise, surprise! We were producing it at cost. It was a government owned facility, and we produced the electricity at cost and passed that cost onto the consumer, which was $670. Now the electricity industry of Australia is owned by four people. Forty per cent of it is actually owned by a foreign government! The Chinese government owns a number of companies that own 40 per cent of the Australian electricity industry, and quite frankly they can put the price of electricity up to whatever they feel like putting it up to. It is a deregulated industry with only four people in the marketplace. When I went to university, I was told in an oligopoly there would be no price determination by the interplay of market forces. The price would be set by the oligopolists at whatever price they felt like setting it at. So this oligopoly has to set it at $2,400 instead of $670. Well, surprise, surprise! I mean, jeez!

It was going to bring down the cost of food, remember that? 'Once we deregulate and the farmers can no longer get a fair price through their marketing boards'—those greedy farmers!—'then you'll get cheap food.' Well, well, well. I've only got the smallest commodities here that I could get in the time I had. Milk went from 85c to $1.99, so we didn't get a good deal on milk. The farmers got 30 per cent less. They were on 59c and they went down to 41c. They get 30 per cent less. The consumer was paying 85c, now he's paying $1.99. It seems to me that it's gone up by about 300 per cent, or 200 per cent—whatever the hell it is. Potatoes were 99c and now they're $2.44. When I submitted this in 2008 before a government committee, I picked six of the most common items. I couldn't get the figures for bread or meat, because they were too complicated, but I could get them for eggs. The farmer was being paid $1.40 for his eggs. The consumer was paying $4.85 for his eggs. (Time expired)


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