Monday, 21 October 2019
Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019, Customs Tariff Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019; Consideration in Detail
On the issue of sovereignty, I remember raising it when I was in the party room on the conservative side of the parliament, and the then leader, from the electorate of Mayo, said, 'There is an issue of sovereignty,' and the member for Melbourne is quite right in raising that issue. Time has moved on very dramatically from then. There might have been two blackfellas here in Canberra, 250 years ago, saying, 'These whitefellas are real good. I get blankets off them and I get trinkets off them and I get mirrors off them. They're really good blokes. I'm right in with these whitefellas.' Well, that may not have been a really good idea for the Australians who were here then. Is there any difference to the people here in Canberra today saying, 'Oh, yes; this is great for us. This foreign investment is just marvellous. We're getting so much out of it.' I don't know what we're getting out of it. In Queensland, we provided the money to build the railway lines into the mines. We provided the money to build the ports, and the people of Queensland owned the railway lines and the ports and benefited from it. With the federal government under Doug Anthony during that period, we maintained ownership of all of our airports. We don't now. It's very hard to find what exactly we as Australians do own.
The member for Melbourne is quite right in his comments that you are giving away your sovereignty and making the same mistakes that we as Australians made 250 years ago. People will curse your name. The history books will curse your name. They'll say, 'Who gave this country away?' Already people cannot believe that the two sides of this parliament sold all of our gas reserves for six cents and we're now buying the gas back for $16. We can't afford to buy it, so industries are closing throughout Australia. Many of the great industries of my electorate are under very serious threat because of the price of gas. The state member, Shane Knuth, a member of our party, says it constantly. Mr Beattie got up and told us that, if we opened the door to competition in the electricity industry, prices would go down. Competition would drive the prices down. Well, we went from $670 to $2,400 a household on the free market. To me it is extraordinary. We had the free market agreement with the United States. They wanted quarantine laws emasculated, and they got exactly what they wanted. It's oversighted now by a body which is half American and half Australian. That's exactly what they wanted and they got it. They wanted pharmaceuticals—virtually an open-door policy—and they got it.
There are three things we wanted, according to the Financial Review and The Australian: dairy access, beef access and sugar access. As you're well aware, I represent a major part of the Australian beef industry. We always got a fair go from America. I really can't complain. As to why we needed some extra access, I don't really know, because I've never received a complaint about access into the United States. I've represented probably the biggest beef area in Australia for almost 50 years and I've never received a single complaint. So forget about beef. The benefit to the Australian dairy industry was one ice cream per week for every dairy farmer. That was the benefit they got out of it. Nothing! And the sugar industry was wiped completely. So we got nothing out of it; they got everything they wanted.
This is the manifestation of the sycophantic nature of this place. They we there grovelling to the white fellas 250 years ago. Now they're grovelling to the big corporates. You're watching the corporate colonisation of our country. I applaud the member. We may disagree violently on many things, but I applaud him and the member for Hobart for their strong stand and consistent stand. History will vindicate us and history will condemn the rest of you.