Senate debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020


Banking and Financial Services, Land Clearing, Foreign Investment, Water

7:53 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 draw attention to the Australian parliament's failure to protect the interests of the Australian people. In the Senate yesterday, the Liberals, the Nationals and the Labor Party united in standing beside big banks against the interests of everyday Australians. Together they voted down my bill to prevent bank deposits being bailed in—meaning that when banks get into trouble they can steal depositors' money. Their madness is simple: Australia has the world's safest banks; the only thing that could bring our banks down is a loss of confidence; that's the very thing my bill was designed to stop. Not once has the Treasurer, the Prime Minister or APRA, the banking regulator, come out and said, 'We will not bail in your deposits.' It's time the Australian people heard those words. The right to use a banking service without losing our money is just one of many rights that everyday Australians have lost—another is the loss of property rights.

Prime Minister John Howard's government's response to the UN's Kyoto Protocol in 1996 was to use the deceitful trick of protecting junk vegetation from destruction. The carbon dioxide that this saved counted to our UN Kyoto targets and it still does. It enabled his government to bypass its constitutional duty to compensate farmers for stealing their property rights. This is a perfect example of mad climate policies that are about bowing to unelected, unrepresentative foreign UN bureaucrats, rather than showing actual environmental outcomes. The land that John Howard's capricious actions supposedly protected was not something worthwhile like an old-growth forest or riparian vegetation; no, it was agricultural land that was stolen. John Howard's government stole our farmers' rights to clear junk vegetation that grows on a field not used for a few years. It prevents farmers making productive use of their land.

To this day the general public think this ban on land clearing relates to actual forests. This conjures up images of evil farmers chopping down virgin forests and sending koalas to their deaths. The reality is this ban stops farmers clearing salt bush and junk vegetation that's stopping productive agriculture on land that has been farmed many times. The old parties never let the truth stand in the way of virtue signalling.

The Liberal-National government with John Howard as Treasurer is largely to blame for banking misconduct. It was John Howard who deregulated banking. This exposed bank customers to the atrocious behaviour that was found during the Senate inquiry into rural and regional lending that I chaired. Our inquiry led to the banking royal commission finding even more wrongdoing.

The Morrison government recently demonstrated another failure in looking after small business. Aussie company CuDeco operated the Rocklands copper mine near Cloncurry in Queensland. It was driven into insolvency from the actions of the minority Chinese owners. The mine was sold to a local Chinese company who promptly onsold it to a Chinese government entity. China now owns an important Australian copper mine, thanks to the ineffective Morrison government. The mine's workers will never get their missing wages, and local contractors are out of pocket $60 million. The only way we will see CuDeco's copper again is if we buy that copper inside Chinese manufactured electronics. Chinese corporations continue to cherrypick their way through our resources sector. China is buying mines, real estate, farms and even our water.

I do compliment Treasurer Frydenberg, though, on his recent decision to block the sale of PURA milk to the Chinese, resulting in the Australian company Bega buying PURA. It's a welcome break after the Liberal-National and Labor parties selling Australia out for a generation.

Since my return to the Senate last year, the Liberal, Labor and National parties have been acting together and have voted down One Nation's motions—many motions—to restore farmers' water rights. The 2007 Water Act takes their water rights and forces Aussie farmers, family farmers, off the land. Even now, with all the rain this year, farmers are on as little as 39 per cent allocation. Who passed the 2007 Water Act? Prime Minister John Howard. Who introduced the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in 2012? Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The whole point of the Water Act was to remove family farms from the land, then to remove their water rights to new irrigation areas on cheap land belonging to corporate agriculture—windfall profits all round; Australian farmers and local communities being gutted. The Australian parliament must decide whether it represents the interests of big business or the interests of everyday Australians.