Monday, 18 February 2019
Questions without Notice
Prime Minister, won't your micro-irrigation schemes, templating at Hughenden, mitigate giant floods now killing two million kangaroos, miring birdlife in mud, pushing dunnarts towards extinction and eroding away billions of tonnes of the world's richest topsoils? With one-tenth of the cattle industry, it's job people and follow on are unable to survive any increased debt. Must not government buy the bank mortgages, surely now worth 25 per cent less? With debt 25 per cent less and interest reduced from seven per cent to government rates of 2.5 per cent, surely this restores the area's tax revenues of $300 million by, most essentially, facilitating restocking?
I thank the member for Kennedy for his question. The short answer to the first part of the question is yes, the project that we have initiated at Hughenden will indeed have those impacts, and that's why we're pleased to be proceeding with that project in Hughenden. I also want to thank the member for Kennedy for joining me on Friday last week in Julia Creek. On the previous day I was with Robbie, up in Cloncurry. I want to thank the mayors of the various shires across north-western Queensland: Greg Campbell, Belinda Murphy, John Wharton, Jane McNamara and Gavin Basket, and all of the other mayors right across the district, for the incredible leadership that they're putting in place to support what is a truly national disaster in what is unfolding in north-western Queensland.
Tonight, I'm assembling a cabinet task force to consider a series of recommendations and proposals that we'll be working through over the course of this week which come off the back of my learning while I was up there last week—and from the Deputy Prime Minister, who was there on the weekend, and the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Reynolds, who has also been there. You are right: this is going to require a station-by-station solution to rebuild and reconstruct the Queensland cattle industry in North Queensland. I cannot imagine—
Mr Bowen interjecting—
I note the interjection from the member for McMahon. If you want to be childish about these things, go right ahead! I cannot imagine an Australia that does not have the North Queensland cattle industry doing what they do, and we will stand with them through all the types of policies that the member for Kennedy has suggested. We are looking at the full range of issues, whether it's addressing the issue of mortgage debt, the restocking that is required and the rebuilding of that part of Australia. They have our full support, they know they have our full support and I'll have more to say about this as the week progresses.
But I want to thank the member for Kennedy for working with the government on this issue, and all of the North Queensland members as part of the government. This is an absolute tragedy that is unfolding for these people. They need to know that they have the support of this chamber and not the jeers that we've seen. We will continue to focus on this issue, because these are the issues that matter—
A government member interjecting—Dead cattle on the ground!
Dead cattle on the ground in North Queensland! They're the things that I'm focused on. That's what I'm turning my attention to, because that's what the people of North Queensland need. And they have my full attention.