From the Desk
Today I rise to speak on matters that concern the links between the New South Wales CFMEU and controversial businessman George Alex, and between Mr Alex and two Islamic State terrorists. George Alex is a controversial Sydney businessman and an undischarged bankrupt. Known for his connections with the criminal underworld, he recently pleaded guilty to making threats to kill a woman and her family over a business debt. He is being investigated by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
I rise to support the condolence motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz. I rise to speak about a Prime Minister of whom I have no direct memory of his service in this parliament or even remembering him on television. To me Malcolm Fraser is as historically distant as Menzies or Lyons, but no less significant.
It is no secret that I am a firm believer in the fundamental liberal principles of small government, of free markets and of individual liberty and personal responsibility, but people of my ilk are often berated by those on the left—the Greens and Labor—for being cold, uncaring and unfeeling. This character assessment follows a flawed logic: that a belief in less government involvement in people's lives is necessarily incompatible with having a generous heart.
It gives me great pleasure to stand up here tonight to talk to the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 and support this very important piece of government legislation, particularly as this bill, like many of the actions that this government is undertaking, delivers on key aspects of our election policy, in particular in relation to industrial relations reform. This particular bill does not go any further than what we took to the people at the last federal election, back in 2013. Indeed, on union workplace access, individual flexibility arrangements and the removal of the ability to strike first and talk later, we are actually delivering on specific policy promises made by the Labor Party prior to the 2007 election but which Labor deliberately broke. So we are delivering on Labor's policies before 2007 and our policies before 2013, which is a fun fact for people at home.
It gives me pleasure to speak on the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014. The coalition went to the last election with a promise to build a safe and secure Australia. A key part of this—
Earlier today during senators' statements I talked about my trip a few weeks ago up into Western and Northern Queensland, and I foreshadowed that I would be talking about bananas later today. I now wish to address the very important issue of the banana industry in Queensland. Bananas are Australia's No. 1-selling supermarket product, with annual farm gate production of over $600 million. About 95 per cent of the bananas produced in Australia come from the coastal strip between Babinda and Cardwell and across the Atherton Tablelands, in particular around Tully and Innisfail. Many businesses and communities in this district rely on the banana industry directly and indirectly for income and for their jobs. That is why Panama tropical race 4 represents a very serious threat to the livelihoods of hundreds of banana growers across North Queensland and also a threat to the communities of North and Far North Queensland.
There is a new shame in politics and I am guilty as charged of the shame—that is, to have been politically active when younger. I am very proud to have been a Young Liberal as a student and still recall being signed up to the Griffith University Liberal Club by Brad Woods back in 1992 when I was a new uni student.
I am going to be controversial tonight because I want to defend Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party government of 2012-2015 in Queensland. Right from its election in March 2012 the Liberal National Party government in Queensland made the tough but necessary decisions needed to stabilise the budget after not just years but decades of Labor waste and mismanagement.
Tonight I wish to talk about freedom and red tape. But before I talk about freedom I wish to pay tribute to the good and hardy souls of Central Queensland, not to mention those in the Northern Territory, who were recently lashed by cyclones. While all in this chamber are relieved at the minimal injuries and that there was no loss of life, hundreds of homes were destroyed not to mention countless businesses and farms.
A merry Christmas to you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I should say that in case this is the last time I speak here. A merry Christmas to everyone.
The biggest barnacle to getting the budget back under control is the Labor Party. It is the Labor Party that is causing all the budget issues that we are facing here at the moment—the Labor Party and its friends in the Greens. This is the axis of 'just say no'; they are saying no to everything.