Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Statements by Senators

North Queensland

12:46 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I want to raise a number of issues that are particularly important to my constituency, which is the state of Queensland. But I particularly want to refer to the north, where I am based. Unfortunately I am now the only senator in Queensland based in the north of the state. Some of my colleagues in the LNP are based in Central Queensland, on the Darling Downs and on the Sunshine Coast, but all the rest of the senators representing Queensland are based in Brisbane. I regret that the one other senator who for many, many years represented the north of the state, Senator Jan McLucas, is no longer with us. I did not always agree with Senator McLucas, but at least she was a passionate advocate for the north. Unfortunately in some dastardly deal within the Labor Party she lost her preselection spot to a union hack from Brisbane who now lives in Brisbane and pretends that he has an office on the Gold Coast.

As a proud North Queenslander and the only representative of North Queensland in the Senate, I want to talk about Adani. I want to talk about the wonderful Great Barrier Reef that all of us in Queensland but particularly in the north are so very proud of. I want to talk about jobs and small business in the north. In Townsville at the moment regrettably there is the largest unemployment figure in the country. Youth unemployment is at a catastrophic rate. It is essential that we do something to boost the economy of the North, particularly Townsville, not just for the jobs but also for small business, which is struggling in that area. That is why I want to talk about Adani.

But before I do that I want to congratulate Mr Tim Nicholls, the state leader of the Liberal National Party in the Queensland parliament and the alternative premier, who in the last few days has made some very significant announcements for the north in general and for Townsville in particular. I am delighted that Mr Nicholls has committed an incoming Liberal National Party government to within 100 days of taking office getting the approvals right for a coal-fired baseload power station somewhere in the north. That will of course utilise the cheapest form of power and the cheapest form of electricity that Australia possesses. If we have a new coal-fired power station in the north, it will mean Australians can relish that cheaper power that nowadays China, India and other places to which we export our black coal are experiencing. It will put Australia back in the game.

Just this morning Mr Nicholls announced a $225 million commitment to address the critical water situation in Townsville which has existed over a long period of time. The state parliament seems to be oblivious to the problems of water shortages in Townsville. Indeed, regrettably, now Townsville has three state Labor members and a Labor federal member. None of them seem to be interested in water. The state Labor Party in its budget promised in the never-never that they would make some money available. It is in their out years with no real commitment to anything, whereas Mr Nicholls today has committed that amount of money. Mr Nicholls has committed an incoming LNP government to funding within 100 days of being elected a definite project to fix Townsville's long-term water shortages.

I want to briefly talk about Adani and what a huge impact that will have on jobs and confidence in Queensland. It is so important that the Labor mayor of Townsville is one of its greatest supporters. The Queensland Premier says she is a supporter and has said some things that would demonstrate that. Unfortunately, her deputy and other members of the Labor Party, including the supposed Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, Coralee O'Rourke, and the supposed federal member—I say supposed because there is still in my mind some doubt as to the validity of her election, but more on that some other time. But they say they are sort of for Adani because they know the huge support for Adani in Townsville but then have all these qualifications. 'But it's got to stack up commercially.' 'But it's got to stack up environmentally.' We know, of course, that the Adani project has more environmental conditions than any other development project any time in Australia's history, and Adani will do that.

But it will provide real jobs, and those real jobs have started already with the announcement of headquarters in Townsville where 500 people will be employed within the next period of time. Unfortunately, the Labor government, while having, it seems, two bob each way, really has internal dissent over this project. I notice that the state Labor government has granted a green activist group some $600,000 to support the Environmental Defenders' Office, which has sought a judicial review of the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion. The Labor Party cannot have it both ways. They either support it or they do not, and funding these radical outfits to try to hold up Adani makes one doubt Labor's commitment. But I am hopeful that, with a change of government in Queensland, Adani will go ahead.

I did want to mention more about that. There are supposedly some protests against Adani. I mentioned in this chamber previously that, when we went to the official opening of the headquarters in Townsville, there was a massive number of five protesters outside the door. As we left that an hour later, that had swelled to eight. There was a northern development conference in Cairns just yesterday where people were talking about, amongst other things, Adani and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and again there was a huge protest at that particular conference. Five people turned up to protest the Adani proposal. I can understand that, because I know the people of North Queensland, who understand these issues, who need the jobs, who understand the barrier reef, have no interest in these radical movements to try to stop that project.

I hear, Madam Acting Deputy President Reynolds, that, in your state of Western Australia, GetUp! and the Greens are mounting this massive campaign against marginal Liberal seats—and on what cause? It is on Adani and the Barrier Reef. Why are they doing it in Western Australia? Of course, people in Western Australia are a long way from the Barrier Reef and they are a long way from Adani. They do not know, as we in Queensland know, that this mine is nowhere near the Barrier Reef. In fact, it is on the other side of the Great Dividing Range. How water can travel uphill is one of the 'fake news' stories that the Greens and GetUp! continue to propagate.

The amount of fake news that the Greens political party and GetUp! continue to propagate is just amazing. Somehow the opening of this mine is going to destroy the world's climate! Yet Dr Finkel himself, the Chief Scientist, has said that, even if you shut Australia down completely and cut our emissions by 1.3 per cent, it would have virtually no impact on the changing climate of the world. So the fake news continues to come out from the Greens political party and GetUp! All the time they do that, they are destroying the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people in the north of the state who I represent and who I will continue to represent by trying to support, in every way I can, these job-creating projects, like Adani and like the water supply and coal-fired power station Mr Nicholls has announced, for the benefit of Queensland and the north in particular.