Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022


Northern Australia Joint Committee

1:52 pm

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury) Share this | Hansard source

Surprise, surprise! Just when we elected the Labor government, guess what happened: they took the first opportunity to turn their back on Western Australia. Not only did Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, say he would govern for all of Australia; he undercooked Western Australia's representation in the federal cabinet, and now he wants to abolish this parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia.

An opposition senator: Disgraceful!

Disgraceful indeed. He wants to silence the voice of the Pilbara region—silence the voice of towns like Port Hedland, Karratha and Tom Price. He wants to silence the Kimberley region—towns like Derby, Broome, Kununurra and all of those many communities in between, including Indigenous communities. Northern Australia represents 53 per cent of this continental landmass and 1.3 million people. Two hundred thousand of them are Indigenous, and Anthony Albanese, supported by Western Australian Labor senators, wants to abolish this committee. This is outrageous.

On a very serious note, even the deepest critics of the work of the committee would have to admit that the work that it did on the Juukan Gorge inquiry in the last parliament was landmark. It was a testimony to the strong bipartisanship or tripartisanship of this parliament in responding to very important issues that were not just Western Australian issues and not just national issues but issues that the whole international community took notice of. And what does Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, want to do? Supported by Western Australian Labor senators, he wants to abolish the northern Australia committee.

Opposition senators: Shame!

Shame! Shame, shame, shame! And, if that is not unbelievable enough, it's the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, a Western Australian, the member for—


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