From the Desk

Latest news from Senator James McGrath:

Student Services and Amenities Fee

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.

Adjournment on Queensland Government

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.

Deregulation and Red Tape

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.

Abbott Government

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.

Abbott Government

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 Gulf Country

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.

Queensland Government

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.

Climate Change

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.

Trade and Foreign Investment Bill 2014

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.