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—
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.
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.
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.