House debates

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

3:45 pm

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport) Share this | Hansard source

When the opportunity was given to me to speak on the MPI from the opposition today, the government's failure to be up-front with the Australian people about matters of national importance, I took the opportunity to prepare a speech. I thought maybe we'd talking about the drought. Maybe we'd be talking about coronavirus. The issues that are really affecting people around the nation. I thought we'd be talking about veterans' suicide. There's nothing on the matters that are consuming the Australian public at the moment. There is the opportunity for the opposition to walk in and raise these, but nothing.

Last night, I spoke to a family in Childers. They're just a humble family. They have an aqua farm business enterprise. They grow plate-sized fish that go into the Asian markets. Their business has stopped. There are a run of families along the same road who are all in the same boat. They're saying, 'What's the go?' The reality is that those in China who would've normally been the recipients through the fish markets over there, as a result of the virus, are not leaving their homes. They're not buying from the fish markets. They're not going to their restaurants. They're staying indoors. As a result, the demand for their product has dried up.

The secondary factor as to why they're having trouble as a result of the coronavirus, which I believe is a matter of national importance, is that because fish travel on aviation logisticial assets rather than seaborne assets, and because of the restriction of aircraft travel with personnel between the two localities, the cargo space in the bottom is not available. That's what I thought we were coming in to talk about in matters of national importance: Australians that were affected by the coronavirus.

I thought we were coming in here to talk about the effects of drought. I would make the assumption that both sides of the House welcome the recent rains. And thank goodness that we're moving into a period of time which all of us refer to as the 'wet season' in northern Australia. It's worth noting that as a result of the drought we should be signalling to the states, in particular those farms that back up to national parks, that in any good neighbourly relationship if my fence burns down and you're my neighbour we go halves in the rebuild. That's what makes for good neighbours, until you back on to a national park. If you back on to a national park and you've been affected by drought and touched up by the bushfire national parks are not going to put their hand in their pocket and build—that's on your own.

At least they managed to get a very small snippet of climate change in there. It wasn't too long ago that those on the other side of this chamber were espousing that climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time. Now it gets about 30 seconds of coverage in an MPI when we talk about national importance.

This week we made some incredible announcements on veteran suicides—

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