Thursday, 6 December 2018
It's a rare phenomenon in this parliament where I stand up to defend the ALP and the LNP, but I'm left with no alternative but to go to this ugly scenario. We all greeted the legislation with cynicism. I got calls about it from the trade union movement in Queensland. I hadn't looked at the legislation, and my chief of staff said, 'Divestment?' And I said, 'No, we want nationalisation.' We're all socialists! But if we can't get nationalisation, I suppose we have to go along with it. It suddenly occurred to me, as it did to the ALP: 'Uh, uh, uh, sneaky trick to get all the Queensland electricity industry sold off.' This is where I depart from the ALP. Everyone in Queensland knows, including the trade union movement, that there is nothing the ALP in Queensland would want more than to sell off the electricity industry. They tried to sell it and got themselves annihilated in an election. They were selling the railways and half selling the electricity industry. So they're scared, but they know they can buy their way through the next election if they sell it for $15,000 million.
I would agree with almost everything the ALP have said today, because that was exactly what I was saying to the Treasurer. I'm going to defend the Treasurer here. I said, 'This is a cheap, sneaky trick to sell the Snowy and to sell the Queensland electricity industry.' And he said, 'No, it's not.' I said, 'Well, you prove it by passing a piece of legislation saying that you're preventing it.' He said, 'Yes, I will.' I was quite stunned. I didn't have a plan B. He said, 'You draft the legislation.' So I drafted the legislation. Either the Treasurer is an extremely good actor, for which I congratulate him, or, alternatively, he is quite genuine and honest. In this case, it's my opinion that he was playing a straight bat. If you're not going to nationalise it—this side of the House doesn't want that and that side of the House doesn't want that; this little group over here does want that, but we're a minority—there is divestment.
Everybody knows the story about Theodore Roosevelt and how divestment was forced on the Standard Oil company in New Jersey and Rockefeller was broken up into 20 or 30 parts. Everyone knows that it is one of the great moments in world history. If you can't have nationalisation then you've got to go to divestment. The other side of it was: was it a sneaky trick to force the sale of the assets? So, we moved the amendment that prevents that. There is absolutely no purpose in selling a Stanwell to another government department. It has to be in the same state as well, because you could sell it maybe to another state. So I stand up here on a very rare occasion to defend both sides of the House. I think both sides have approached this issue with the best intent, and I thank them. (Time expired)