From the Desk
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.
Having entered this place only five months ago, this is going to be my first Christmas as a senator for Queensland. As is customary at Christmas, you think about the year that has passed and the year ahead, and you think about those who have helped you and those who have hindered you along the way. But, also, you start to think about those people who have been good and those whom you would like Santa Claus to bring presents to. I should particularly mention three wonderful people in the whips office, otherwise I will never get a speaking slot in this place ever again—Charlotte, Bec and Megan. I hope that they take this offering in goodwill.
Queensland is actually still a frontier state. We have so much growth in front of us as we look to the future, unlike some other states, whose best days are behind them, I fear. This was really pushed home to me when I spent a week up in the Gulf Country with Noeline Ikin, who was our candidate for the 2013 election for the seat of Kennedy. Noeline and I joined Senator Matt Canavan and Minister Barnaby Joyce in Normanton, where we officiated at the opening of new offices for Gulf Savanah Development Inc.—or GSD, as everyone up in Normanton seems to call it—with local mayors Fred Pascoe and Ernie Camp. After we safely packed off Barnaby to his next destination, which I understand was Darwin, we started on a journey across the cape, from Normanton and Karumba on one side, ending up in Bellenden Ker with Robyn Quick, who is our Liberal-National Party candidate for the state seat of Mulgrave at the coming state election.
I love being a Queenslander. I love our state. We have great beaches; we have great farmland and landscapes.
It is another day, so it is another matter of public importance and another display of rank hypocrisy from the Australian Labor Party. If anyone in this place knows anything about broken promises, it will be our friends in the Labor Party. Let's talk about Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland, at the 2009 state election. The Labor Party and Anna Bligh said they would not have asset sales. What did they do? Got re-elected and had asset sales.
I must confess, I am embarrassed, but I am embarrassed for the Greens, who once again have demonstrated their complete contempt for the will of the Australian people by proposing this matter of public importance today. People at home have listened to the Greens, as have the people in the gallery, be more concerned about readers of newspapers overseas and that says something. We have a Green party here who are more concerned about the Los Angeles Times than the South Burnett Times. We have a party who are more concerned about the readers of the Washington Post rather than those who read the Cairns Post. We have a party here who are more concerned about what hipsters living in lofts in Brooklyn think, rather than families living on the breadline in Hervey Bay, Townsville or Nambour. So I am embarrassed for the Greens who continue to espouse their environmental socialism in the face of the clear mandate delivered to this government at last year's election—a mandate to abolish the carbon tax, to lower the cost of living for Australians and to implement practical solutions to deal with climate change.
It gives me great pleasure to speak on the Trade and Foreign Investment (Protecting the Public Interest) Bill 2014. I think the bill probably is well-intentioned, but I do not think it is a bill that I can support or that my party would support. To bring a blanket ban in on the inclusion of ISDS clauses in free trade agreements would be wrong and would certainly limit the ability of the government to negotiate the best possible deals for Australia and Australian exporters, so the government is considering the inclusion of ISDS clauses in free trade agreements on a case-by-case basis.
Like many in the Senate I am a great believer in freedom. In Australia we are fortunate to have constitutional government and strong democratic institutions to uphold and protect our freedom. Sadly, in today's troubled world, there are peoples who cannot boast of such things.
This MPI is not a story of cuts; it is a story of Labor's record on debt, tax and deficits. It is a horrible history of Labor mismanagement and horrid economic planning. So, mums and dads watching at home, send your children out of the room now, because you are about to hear some figures and I do not want you swearing in front of your children, and neither do I want your children realising the full extent of the debt they are going to inherit from Labor and what that means in terms of the work they are going to have to do to pay off Labor's debt. I do not want the toddlers and teenagers of Australia having nightmares because of Labor's debt and all the work they are going to have to do.
I want to talk about the vexing issue of red and green tape. Before I do that, however, I will digress for a little bit. Today is a sad day for the Liberal-National Party in Queensland. Over the past few weeks, we have seen some longstanding Liberal-National Party members of parliament announce their retirement. In a future debate, I will talk more about their achievements, but tonight I thank Rosemary Menkens, first elected in 2004; Ted Malone, first elected in 1994; Vaughan Johnson, first elected in 1989; and Howard Hobbs, first elected in 1986, for their service to Queensland and their local communities. I hope their retirements are long and that they understand that we will never forget their work over their many years. They all leave big shoes to fill.