Monday, 2 December 2019
Private Members' Business
Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption
I second the motion. I was one of the two people that made the decision to call on the Fitzgerald inquiry in Queensland. I'm very proud to say that, after the most searching inquiry, there was not one single conviction against a member of the government I was associated with, contrary to the public belief that we were all corrupt. There were four people sent to jail for misuse of their parliamentary allowances—and everyone in this place take note, because the leading case, Brian Austin, went to jail because he used his government car to visit his kids on the weekend, and for that he served two years in a steel cage. There are grave downsides to these things, and the person at the heart of the police corruption in Queensland—from a group of people that had been responsible for 53 murders—got clean away. That is one form of corruption.
The form of corruption that is worrying me greatly has to do with the major part of the landmass of Australia that is available for use, noting that 52 per cent of it is desert, four per cent is national parks and 22 per cent is First Australians' land—but they're not allowed to use it, so forget about that. Of the land left, there's no doubt that foreigners are majority landholders in Australia. What sort of parliament allows that to happen? It's worse than allowing that to happen—both sides of this House have promoted what they call foreign investment. It's not foreign investment; it's a traitorous sell-out of your nation. They own almost all the milk processing in Australia, they own almost all of the beef processing in Australia and they own almost all of the sugar processing in Australia. Every single one of those things was Australian owned. The five major mining companies—two of them being amongst the top four mining companies in the world, BHP being the biggest company in the world—were all sold off with the agreement of both parties in this place.
When you've been around politics for as long as I have, you know that there is a stench out there, and if you follow a stench you'll find something dead or something dying. So we know there's a stench out there, because no government could have done this. If you want to stop it, then you'd better start finding out whose palms are being greased here. We both know that there are a hundred ways of circumventing the rules about donations. We're pretty innocent in our party, because we don't get any; therein lies our innocence. In this place, in the party that I belonged to when I came here, after the most searching inquiry, there was not one single conviction for corruption in the much-maligned Queensland Bjelke-Petersen government, contrary to public belief.
Having said that, Andrew Robb, once a senior minister in this place, sold the Darwin Port, which staggered, shocked and sickened every decent patriotic Australian. The major outlet of this country was sold to China and within eight months—I think it was—it was announced that he was on $880,000 a year in some role or other, being paid by the port of Darwin. If that is not corruption then I would like you to tell me what constitutes corruption—to sell off the major port coming into this country to a foreign corporation and then be on the payroll a few months later!
Ethanol was knocked back in this place. Australia remains the only country on earth that hasn't got ethanol. To quote Morris Iemma, 'I'm not going another day with a thousand people dying in Sydney that don't have to die.' He seems to be the only honest man in the parliaments of Australia, because no-one else has been too worried about the health issues. But every other country is worried about them. China is worried about them. America is worried about them. Europe is worried about them. They've all passed legislation. The only parliament in the world that hasn't passed the legislation is sitting right here. Was that corrupt? All I can say is that John Anderson, the first minister to make the decision, took off and was working for a mining-oil company the next year, according to newspapers. The next one was Mark Vaile. Mark left us after giving a $230 million donation to Saddam Hussein over wheat. Did Mark Vaile go to jail? No. Did he knock back ethanol? Yes. Where was he afterwards? Heading up two oil-gas mineral companies. Martin Ferguson knocked back ethanol. Where was Martin Ferguson the next year? Involved in the board of three mining and oil companies. The next one is Macfarlane. Where is he now? Heading up the oil, gas and minerals council of Queensland and on the board of Woodside-Burmah. If these things are not corruption then tell me what they are.
When I was a cabinet minister in Queensland, there would have been as much chance of getting away with something like that as there would have been of flying to the moon, but in this place you can get away with anything, anything at all. If you were running stakes on which was the most corrupt country on earth, you would start with ethanol. Let me go on with the National Party. Warren Truss was the next leader. He gave $1 million to his own electorate in the Dairy RAP, or Regional Assistance Program. I'm pretty certain I had more dairy cattle in my electorate than he had in his. We got virtually nothing out of it; nor did anyone else in Australia. With me threatening to take legal action, the Dairy RAP was immediately fixed up, but there is no doubt that, when you use public funds for your own private interest or political purposes, then that is misappropriation, by definition. The parliament appropriated that money, through Mr Anderson, to spend to help all Australia, and yet, when the figures came out, I think three-quarters of the funds had gone to two targeted electorates for the National Party—misappropriation.
In Queensland we have a situation where the Premier was found by senior counsel to have threatened a member of parliament, which of course is a breach of the criminal law. It went to the Criminal Justice Commission, which was called the 'criminal justification commission' by everyone who had anything to do with it. She was found to be guilty. She was found to have had a breach of the law. They referred it—heaven only knows why—not to the Attorney-General but to a parliamentary committee, the majority of which was Labor Party. They found that what she did was not good and that there was a breach but that no action should be taken against her. So much for the Premier! The Deputy Premier's family buys real estate at the end of a $7,000 million tunnel, which she pulls out of the air on the eve of an election. No-one had heard anything about it ever, and then we find out that her family own real estate where the tunnel exits. Of course, the value of that land has appreciated hugely, but nothing happens. When my honourable colleague, the member for Clark, says we need something, Truss's successor—this is the National Party—they get a perfect record, every single one of them. (Time expired)