Senate debates

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Statements by Senators

Climate Change, General Motors, Fall of Singapore: 79th Anniversary

1:15 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I will not vote for any policy target or measure that comes at the cost of Queensland jobs. Likewise, I won't vote for anything that hurts businesses in Queensland, which is why I'm sceptical about the rush to net zero emissions by 2050. While those who scroll through Twitter like demented, semi-house-trained woodpeckers might like bumper sticker economics, as a regional senator I've seen these discussions play out around the patios and verandas and at the local pubs and bowls club in regional Queensland.

I left home in January and haven't returned yet, as I've been on the road listening to workers and businesses. Workers and businesses know that zero emissions by 2050 is part of this bumper sticker strategy of the Left—the Left who want to virtue signal rather than bring forward solutions. The message I hear from regional Queensland and from all of Queensland is loud and clear: at the heart of any 2050 target should be a focus on jobs and businesses, particularly jobs in regional Queensland. If we lose one job or one business, that means I will not support these targets. By all means, bring forward your plans, bring forward your costed plans, but make sure these plans protect jobs and protect businesses.

Year after year we see the Greens trot into this place and drone on and dribble on and drool on like leaking fridges about shutting down coalmining as though that will provide an instant silver bullet to a long-term global problem. We saw Bob Brown lead a convoy of southerners into Central Queensland ahead of the last election. It was an utterly arrogant display, and we saw the message the people in those communities sent at the ballot box shortly afterwards.

The undeniable fact is that, for any long-term planned emissions, we must focus on opening up greater opportunities for Australians, particularly in regional areas. If we are to make a plan for the next 30 years, the best way for us to have reliable and cheap energy in Australia while reducing our emissions is with a mix of coal, gas, renewables and nuclear power. These industries combine to offer strong opportunities for us to take advantage of resources, supercharge our regional economies and build a more sustainable and self-reliant future for all Australians. Jobs and businesses are more important than leftist claptrap about unrealistic targets.

Today, 17 February, is a sad anniversary. Today marks one year since General Motors pulled the rug out from under our Australian Holden dealers. They smashed Holden like a corporate granny-snatching hoodlum. The decision by General Motors to discontinue the Holden operations in Australia was, of course, their prerogative. But their failure to do so responsibly and in a manner that was fair to the very people who had enabled the company to operate in the Australian marketplace is nothing short of shameful. The decision impacted not only Holden dealers but the suppliers, the mechanics, the service teams, the receptionists, the technicians and the owners of the cars and utes. The Holden family was beaten up and spat out like week-old pizza by General Motors.

Over the last 12 months I've continued to call on General Motors time and time again to treat the Holden dealers with respect and return the proud Holden brand that means so much to our car enthusiasts and motor dealers. Sadly, it appears these calls have fallen on deaf ears. How long will it be before the Holden brand—our Holden badge—is sold to a state owned company in China? General Motors betrayed Australia when they shut down Holden. I fear nothing will stop them betraying the Holden family by selling the Holden brand to China.

Monday marked an important day for many Australians. Monday was the 79th anniversary of the fall of Singapore. Tuesday marked an equally important date. Tuesday was the 79th anniversary of the Bangka Island massacre of innocent nurses. On Sunday I joined my colleague Senator Paul Scarr and Brisbane City Councillor Angela Owen alongside senior members of our Army, Navy and Air Force and senior members of the Singapore Armed Forces who are based out at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. We came together at the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane to mark and remember the fall of Singapore. More importantly, we did so in front of the families and friends of the 2/10th Field Regiment Association, of the nurses and of other associations, who quietly each year remember the lost and those who suffered under the brutality of their captors, and remember people like my great uncle Gray, who was a major and was in Singapore on the way to fight the Nazis when it fell and spent the next 3½ years as a guest of the Emperor. I'd like to thank Libby and Wendy and their families and all the other volunteers for their work in organising the service. I'd like, too, to wish Wendy, who is in hospital, the best of luck with her own battles that she is engaging in on the health front.

This is a service that I've taken part in for many years, and each year is an important reminder that we must always stand up and fight for freedom. We must fight for freedom both here in Australia and overseas. We must stand up for freedom in Singapore. We must stand up for freedom in Taiwan. We must always be on the side of freedom and democracy, not just because it is righteous, which it is, but who will help us if and when the time comes when we need to light the beacons and ring the bells for help? Our freedoms were fought for by those who gave their all so we might have our day and so we might sleep soundly in our beds. So I support the call by Julian Simmonds, the member for Ryan, along with numerous ex-service organisations, for the Anzac Day marches and services to proceed in Brisbane and across Queensland. The RSL has asked for a small service at Anzac Square and for a small march at the showgrounds at Bowen Hills. The Premier, of course, hasn't replied to either the RSL or the member for Ryan. If Black Lives Matter can have marches, then we must and we should support Anzac Day proceeding. To do anything less disrespects those who gave their all so we can have our today.