Senate debates

Monday, 17 September 2012


Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Declared Commercial Fishing Activities) Bill 2012; Second Reading

5:57 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (Queensland, National Party, Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

A supertractor—we do not want a supertractor! I am worried about garages—we do not want garages that are too big. And we certainly do not want, I don't know, tinnies that are too big. We have to make sure that we know, and I think it is now the responsibility of the minister to clearly explain to us, when big is too big—because that is the only thing that we can find wrong with this ship.

So, why is it big? It is big because what is usually located on the shore—that is, the freezing works and the processing works—is now located on the ship. By doing that, they have the capacity to get greater efficiencies. And who else thought that? Well, the scientific department that signed off on it thought that.

So what exactly are we going to do now? What, exactly, does the government have to do? After Q&A, the government has reversed a decision on something that they had formerly approved, because the left wing of the Labor Party had their noses out of joint about the Nauru decision and this was the way they squared the accounts.

With something like that where we cannot get a logical decision, the other party is going to trot off to court. And who will pay for this debacle? Well, of course, it is the taxpayer. The Commonwealth will get sued by the owners of the ship and the Australian taxpayer will have to cough up. That is where the money for this one is going to come from. So you can add to your $246 billion in gross debt, you can add to the $2 billion that they borrowed last week, and you can add to the $10 billion they borrowed in the last month just another little addition; that is, the money—the liability that will now have to be paid out to these people.

The Dutch government have been on the phone to us saying: 'What are you up to? What is going on in Australia? What has happened down there?' I do not know what the answer is. I really cannot explain it. They cannot explain it. So, what is the next step?

Another issue has been brought up, which is that for the quantity of catch that this boat would have taken, the environmental effect on seals and dolphins would actually have been less than that for a multiplicity of ships, or a multiplicity of trawlers. But that does not matter anymore. If it was all just purely about seals and dolphins, then you would go with the process that prevented the unnecessary bycatch—but it is not about that. It is not about seals and dolphins. If it were just about seals and dolphins—and merely days before this, we could not even get the Treasurer go out and properly explain his position on the sale of Cubbie Station; the only thing we could get out of him was a Twitter account, and that somehow it was a sovereign risk and populist—then maybe we should have straightaway somehow got some seals and dolphins into a dam at Cubbie Station so we could get the government's attention! But no luck, because we find it is not about seals and dolphins. This ship, this supertrawler, this floating iniquity—apparently—was actually going to catch fewer seals and dolphins than the same catch plied by a number of other trawlers. The only thing that we can get out of this is that this ship was too big. And the only defence we can get for it from within the government is nothing: mute. It is hopeless.

What this shows, yet again, is the sense of complete chaos and the complete hypocrisy of everything that comes out of this government from Treasury to trade. You cannot rely on them. Every time you pick up their opining in their opinion pieces, just disregard it. It is just babble. It has no meaning. It has no substance. They do not stand by what they say on anything. The only thing that is changing is that they used to change their position over a longer time frame; now they are changing it overnight.

We had another decision like this—and this was also associated with Minister Ludwig—and that was the live cattle trade debacle.

That was another one that happened overnight. We went to our nearest neighbour, our most important neighbour with 250 million people off our coast, a country with which we were trying to establish a distinctive and hard-earned trade relationship, but overnight they shut down the live cattle trade. Why? It was an emotional decision. It was like the X-Factor of politics. It was like Dial-a-Decision and what we have there has been completely and utterly replicated in what we have here. It is Dial-a-Decision, Twitter politics, Facebook friend politics. But it is also a total and utter insanity. You could not run a house like this. No mother running a house would run a house like this. No school principal running a school would have a school run like this. No farmer running a farm would have a farm run like this. No businessperson in the business world would have his business run like this. But we are running the nation like this, and it has to stop because it is looking absurd.


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