Senate debates

Thursday, 13 February 2020


Queensland Government, Australian Government

5:35 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 have a duty to raise issues hurting my constituents and a duty to work for the people to fix their concerns. People have had a gutful of the Queensland Labor government and the federal Liberal government constantly meddling in the lives of everyday Australians. Tonight, I will show you who is responsible. The Queensland Labor government recently put out for tender a major contract to supply Metro North Hospital and the health service with dairy products. One of the region's largest independent and Queensland owned dairy producers, Maleny Dairies, was ignored when the contract was given to Chinese owned Mengniu Dairy and French owned Lactalis. The Chinese government is a part-owner of Mengniu Dairy, which was involved in the 2008 melamine scandal, where dairy based baby formula was deliberately contaminated just to save money, causing the deaths of six babies and hospitalising 50,000 babies. Lactalis has been accused of pressuring farmers to sign contracts that were not favourable to the farmers. Little tax will be paid in Australia. Where is the benefit for Queensland and Australia?

The owner of Maleny Dairies, Ross Hopper, says his company is 100 per cent Queensland family owned. Eleven farms supply Maleny Dairies. It sells a quality product after paying a fair price to the farmers. It pays Australian tax. Recently, Australia's largest dairy farm was sold to Chinese interests, as was Australia's largest baby formula processing company—more taxes lost overseas. And who pays? The people pay.

What about water? There is no decent water policy in Queensland, and more needs to be done to provide drought relief. How is it that Queensland's most recently built dam, the Paradise Dam, was so badly built that it is only safe to operate with a fraction of the intended capacity? Millions of dollars would be wasted to demolish it and millions of dollars would be spent to rebuild it. How many more bad decisions will Liberal and Labor governments make throwing our money away? On water, the federal government is no better. Just think about the mess that is now the Murray-Darling Basin Plan under the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the disastrous Howard-Turnbull Water Act of 2007.

Why is there no clear plan to build catchment dams to use the plentiful rain in North Queensland to supply the needs of the state as a whole? As humans, we need water to survive. In the late 19th century and the early 20th century the Western Australian government built the Perth to Kalgoorlie water pipeline and opened the vast farmlands and Kalgoorlie goldfields. The return on investment is staggering. More than a century after the heated argument stopped and a few politicians had the courage to build the pipeline, we're still reaping the benefits. In Queensland, though, the Bradfield Scheme was first mooted in 1938, yet never proceeded. It proposes to divert some of the excess water now wasted to the sea in the north-east and instead send it to the west of Queensland. It is an ambitious concept, a game changer. Good rains are finally falling in Queensland and New South Wales. Why do we not have dams to catch and store this precious resource for the tough times which will come as part of the normal weather and climate cycles? The answer is that Liberal and Labor politicians lack the common sense, lack the integrity and lack the courage. In Australia we have a clear history of climate cycling: wet, dry, wet dry; warmer, colder, warmer, colder. On top of that, we have enormous variation in the length of dry spells and the frequency of dry spells. This is natural and normal. We need to store water.

Yet there's more. Governments stole farmers rights to use their land. Governments now control what farmers can and cannot do. Brisbane and Canberra bureaucrats control farms and destroy livelihoods and rural communities economically and through fires that burn out of control, because the farmers who own the vegetation are not allowed to manage the vegetation they bought. What's missing in Queensland and in Canberra is quality leadership. We need government that can look forward and plan for a sound and realistic future. We need to consider carefully who we vote for and which candidates really care for the future of Australia. Remember these simple truths: our nation's governing document is our Constitution; the only group that can change our Constitution is the people, and that means that our nation's sovereign is the people. Who elects the government? The people. Who is responsible for the government and holds the government accountable or neglects to hold it accountable? The people. We the people get the government we allow.

As servants to the people of Queensland and Australia, Senator Hanson and I pledge to work for justice for all those rural people who are hurting from the actions of unthinking, uncaring governments. I implore all people, rural and city, to vote for governments that behave with common sense, integrity, transparency and courage.