Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 July 2019


Rural Australia

7:24 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I rise to continue my remarks from yesterday by going on to another group. Yesterday, I discussed the burden of farmers, who are suffering, and the courage they have under assault. As Marty Bella, a former State of Origin hero in Rugby League, said, there is an ideological assault on rural Australia. Senator Pauline Hanson has been exposing this assault since 1996. Yesterday, I said that Marty Bella is a co-founder of Green Shirts, the real conservationists and protectors of the environment, and he finds himself now in a real battle—along with every other farmer in Queensland. I also celebrated the McDonald family and acknowledged their effort, and also Robert Rossiter and Allan Parker.

Tonight I want to move on to another person on the coast, and that is Peter Ridd, who is a celebrated and award-winning scientist, who has earned the respect of many people around the world as a scientist. He has said many times, with scientific proof, that the Great Barrier Brief is in fine shape. Sadly, because it has been turned into a political football and lies are being told about the reef, tourism is suffering. That means that the people of Queensland are hurting. So it's not just farmers and farming communities; it's also tourist communities in the north and in Central Queensland, and, in fact, tourism in the whole of Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef is in fine shape. Cyclones come; cyclones go. The reef suffers; the reef recovers. It has periods of bleaching. In 2008, the reef in the southern portion bleached when there were record cold temperatures. But the Greens were not running around saying that we were expecting imminent catastrophic global freezing due to the use of hydrocarbon fuels—as some lunatics were in the 1970s. No; now it's global warming blamed on hydrocarbon fuels. In fact, it's nonsense. We have periods of cold and periods of warmth that are natural and cyclical and which affect the whole of the reef in various parts at a time.

Speaking of the coast, I also want to celebrate the work of Timmsy—Rodney Timms of Innisfail, a fisherman. He's finding the coast is locked up, not only by the UN dictates and the UN policies that are being implemented by state and national Liberal and Labor governments but also by excessive bureaucracy in Queensland. And that same bureaucracy is creeping down to New South Wales, where I've also met with fishermen who have been suffering under this oppression. I also want to acknowledge the work of a friend of mine, the late Bill Izard, who was fighting the bureaucrats for many, many years in North Queensland.

This is a vital, natural, renewable resource—fish. They swim through our waters and then swim up into Papua New Guinea. Yet, as Maurice Newman, the well-respected businessman, has said, and as Keith De Lacy, the former Treasurer of Queensland has said, when these fish swim into our waters, we're not allowed to touch them; when they swim out of our waters and into Papua New Guinea, they get caught and sold back to us! So we're doing people out of work because of a UN dictate, and we're destroying an industry in our state because of that. And it's absolutely stupid and there's no evidence for it.

Walter Starck is a well-known and well-respected marine biologist working out of Townsville at the moment; he's an American with many years' experience around the world and particularly in North Queensland. He says that the sustainable catch of fish in parts of the Barrier Reef is—listen to this—1,500 kilograms per square kilometre per year. And the actual catch is 0.9 of a kilogram.

We are being locked up by the UN, with complicity from the Labor-Liberal duopoly that has governed this country exclusively for 60 years, and the people who are paying the price for this idiocy are the everyday Australians who have a job, or who had a job, and taxpayers. Who caused the problems? Liberal-Labor governments. Who pays? The people pay. This is theft of opportunity from our people. We are destroying—government is destroying—the productive capacity of our country. It is a national disaster. And we need, as I said last night, restoration of, or compensation for the theft of, property rights along the coast and also in farmlands—restoration or compensation.