Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Statements by Senators
Australian Greens, Rural Australia
I came in here with the intention of talking on a subject, but the senator who spoke before me has just aided me to go on a new front. What an outrageous contribution from the Greens! Mind you, we don't expect anything less than that. On occasions, they seem to be able to lower the bar so far, and now they're on all fours to get under their own bar. The Greens party have done so much to restrict employment and the development of industries in this country. There was not one word from the senator about the 180,000 jobs in the coal industry that are in jeopardy in my home state because of their policies. That was an outrageous contribution. It's an attack on freedom of speech.
Some of us have come in here with reasonably strong views on conservative issues, only to be attacked and frustrated by the Greens. They are so far to the Left, you wouldn't find them if you had two pairs of bifocals on at the same time. It is outrageous. They want to increase the dole for unemployed people so they can buy more drugs and ice so they can avoid going to jobs. They want to treat that—
An opposition senator interjecting—
No, that's their position, Senator. They made it clear here during the week in debates around issues to do with minimum wages and the like. They want to take away from festivals and carnivals the tracker dogs that are there to test people for drugs, whereas we want safe public environments where people can go, where people on ice and all sorts of things are not participating in large crowds, causing havoc. These people won't be happy until we're all sucking on tofu made from dried grass, lying around all day waiting for the Commonwealth to send some money into their bank account so they can go and do whatever they like.
I am tired of being attacked when I stand up and speak about some issues around strong values that I still believe are the strong values of the majority of Australians. That presentation by that senator was very poorly prepared, very poorly researched—that's one explanation. The other is that she stood there and provided bold-faced lies around some of the stats she mentioned. She talked about unemployment. Under this government we have lowered the unemployment rate to the lowest it's been in decades. She comes in here and makes attacks on us to continue to try and marginalise those of us in this place and the other place that are centre Right conservatives. We can't open our traps. You cannot say the word 'abortion' without being attacked by this mob of almost—I would say 'grubs' if I didn't think you were going to make me withdraw it, Mr Acting Deputy President. But it's out there now. These people came and attacked me for my religious basis the other day, using words like 'rosary beads', because I had the audacity to raise issues around late-term abortions, where babies that are only minutes away from getting a smack on the arse and a name are being aborted under the policies of the Australian Greens.
I will not stand silent. I will not stand mute while these people try to continue to marginalise policies and ideas that we want to discuss for this nation that I think are still largely supported by the majority of the nation. There's no question about that. They are an ever-increasingly silent majority because they're not game to speak. I've had it in here. I've moved sensible motions here, reflecting the views of so many people in our society, only to have formality denied.
Senator Hinch interjecting—
No? Well, you've been part of it, Senator Hinch. I'm going to declare my gender today—as I can—to be a woman, and then you'll no longer be able to attack me. The behaviour of these people is despicable. To come in here, with the freedom that they have, and vomit the vitriol that comes out of their mouths—it needs to be called out. That wasn't the reason I came in to speak, but I've made a contribution. I don't want them talking any longer, with complete impunity, this rhetoric, this nonsense attacking decent value based Australians. That's said.
In my five years in the Senate, it's well known that I have concentrated on the affairs of agriculture and our provincial communities across the country. I'm coming to the end of my contribution as a politician, as you know, at the end of June next year. My reflection on where we are at is that, as a government—I don't care if it's the mob sitting over there or the mob sitting over here—we need to have a thorough look at better coordinating our efforts around agriculture in this country. I'm not going to be critical of efforts to date, but a lot of it—and it's not unique to this government—has been reactionary. We wait until we get a critical situation, and then we consider what we might do. As everyone knows, if you're going to fix a hole in a rainwater tank, it's a lot harder to do if you let it form in the first place. So, I really believe that our government—and I'll be lobbying very hard to try and have this considered—needs to have an audit inquiry, or whatever you want to call it, into the bush so that we can better coordinate and better look at what policies, programs and assistance need to be put in place to head off problems in the future.
I'll give you an example. The government recently allocated $4.5 million to the University of Southern Queensland—and good luck to them for getting the funding—to run a program to educate midwives to go and work in rural communities. At the same time, the state government—I'm not going to play politics here and put labels on people—has decided to close 27 birthing clinics in my home state of Queensland. That means these mums—
Senator Hinch interjecting—
Don't attack me; I am allowed to talk about mums and birthing issues, Senator Hinch, before you get up on your high horse and flick me with your whip. These mums will now have to travel incredible distances to be able to do what every other mum in metropolitan and regional areas enjoys as a matter of course. I've talked to mums six months into their confinement out in Birdsville and Bedourie and all of those places where once you could have had your baby. They can't anymore. If they've got some feature about their confinement that's an issue of sorts then they have to travel to Adelaide or Brisbane, three months prior to the anticipated birthdate. For three months they've got to leave the property, their husband and their children—in many instances, young children educated by mum and the School of the Air. What happens with all that? It gets tipped completely on its head because they simply can't enjoy a basic community service that every single one of us elsewhere takes for granted. These are people who travel 14 hours to get to a dentist. We had a Royal Flying Doctor Service with its own mobile dental service. I was critical of my own government because we withdrew the funding. We reinstated it, fortunately. But these are the things that are happening.
I intend to use the balance of my time here to lobby and cajole and do whatever it takes—just as one does in business, just as one does in our own personal lives—to get us to start thinking about what the future holds, what our needs are, what our resource capacity is to meet those needs, and to put together a clever blueprint, a rule book, if you like, that survives the government of the day. If there were to be a change of government at some time in the future across to the opposition, that rule book could be picked up and the script followed so that we can rebuild rural and provincial Australia. It's had a flogging. We need to fix matters around education. Communications have been much improved. In health, we need connectivity. We've got an inquiry going at the moment into air services. Rural people are paying four or five times the amount to travel than we do when we travel the same distance between metros.
That's what I wanted to speak about. That's what was on my mind. I apologise to the chamber that I got distracted by that absolutely despicable, juvenile effort by a member of the Greens as they continue to attack the base values of this nation. I'll be urging others to support me in the cause, to try and have an audit of the bush.