Matter of Public Importance on Human Rights

Well, that was 10 minutes of wind and straw. There was nothing of any substance there. There were certainly no accurate representations of positions that anyone is putting in this debate. No-one that I've heard from in the government—indeed no-one really anywhere in society—is saying that people shouldn't have the right to protest or have their voices heard, or that journalists shouldn't have the right to report. No-one has that position whatsoever; no-one at all.

Indeed, I think I was more welcoming of the Bob Brown convoy to Queensland than anybody else around. I embraced the Bob Brown convoy. I am happy to go on the record that I welcome law-abiding protests in Queensland and I hope we have many more of them in Central Queensland soon. Since the election I have invited Bob Brown back to Central Queensland many times. Alas, he hasn't taken up my invitations yet; but hope springs eternal, and I do hope that Mr Brown—and maybe Senator Waters will join him this time up in Central Queensland—will come, and they can all express their democratic right to put their position to the people of Central Queensland, as they were welcome to do during the election.

What we are against is people who break the law. What we are against is people who trespass on private property. What we are against is people who interrupt law-abiding citizens going about their average day and life. We are against people who potentially put lives at risk by unnecessarily and insensitively holding up traffic in a major city without knowing who might be in these cars or what they've got to get to. There might be people with a doctor's appointment or people who need to pick up children. They don't care. They are showing gross disregard for all Australians through the illegal activities that are occurring in Queensland right now. That's what we stand against.

How absurd is it for the Australian Greens to come into this place and compare those that are supergluing themselves to street corners, that are swarming traffic lights in the CBD, that are putting other people's lives at risk by trespassing in dangerous environments in ports and rail lines—how absurd it is that they would compare themselves—to those around the world campaigning for greater democratic rights? As I pointed out in interjections, how absurd is it that the Australian Greens are complaining that these people represent a pro-democracy movement when we have just had an election in this country that resoundingly supported the policies of the government which were to support the development of the Adani Carmichael mine? I do think the Australian Greens need a dictionary, because that is the definition of democracy. We've had an election. We had a vote. There was a majority in favour of one set of policies and a minority against them. That was decided.

Now, no-one is saying that that minority—clearly they were in the minority—who were opposed to the Adani Carmichael mine are not entitled to their views. No-one is saying they shouldn't be listened to. No-one has suggested that they should now stop putting their views in the public domain in any way, shape or form. But it is a contentious issue. It has been a contentious issue. We have a way in our society to resolve contentious issues peacefully and respectfully. That most important way is through the ballot box in this country. That is what we have done. We have done it. You couldn't have had more resounding support for the Adani Carmichael mine from the people of Queensland and the people of Australia.

Indeed someone sent me the other day some analysis that shows there is a statistically significant relationship between the swing to the government and the distance of a polling booth from the Adani Carmichael mine site. It was very clearly supported. There were swings to the LNP of 10 per cent and more in Central Queensland. I know the Labor Party are reflecting on that now—what went wrong for them. Clearly, one of the things that went wrong is that people in Central Queensland didn't think the Labor Party was supporting their jobs, their futures, their children's futures as much as we were this time.

I hope that a result as emphatic as this will see the Labor Party reflect on that—there have been some good signs already that they may have done that—and we can marginalise the Australian Greens here. They are welcome to their views, but sometimes in this place they like to speak as if they represent a vast majority of the Australian people, when their vote, when you look into it, is around 10 per cent. They are lucky to crack double digits. All those people are welcome to their views and they are welcome to their votes, but they are nowhere near a majority of this country. The majority of this country want to work and have a future for their children where they can actually provide for themselves. The majority of this country have no problem with making sure we supply essential resources to the rest of the world through our coal, iron ore, gas and other resource industries. We are very proud of that. It's a fantastic industry, which we should be proud of, and most Australians have no problems in doing that.

As I indicated, I am a little torn on this motion, because in some ways I do want to promote these protests. I haven't seen better advocates for the mining sector in this country than those supergluing themselves to the streets of Brisbane. I try my best as the resources minister. I have been trying to fight to get this Adani Carmichael mine going for years, and Bob Brown turns up in Queensland and has it going within weeks. It is a bit frustrating for me how hard I'd worked for years to deliver this result, and Bob Brown came in and swept away and took all my thunder and within weeks this thing was going.

Since then, unfortunately, Bob Brown has not been back to the sunshine state, but those that are applying superglue liberally to themselves at the moment are continuing his good work. There is no doubt about that. They are demonstrating exactly why mainstream Australians reject the narrow, dismissive, negative policies of the Australian Greens, who do not seem to want to build anything anywhere. These guys wouldn't support a footpath being built at the moment. They do not want to support any kind of development in our nation.

The hypocrisy of these protesters is clear as well. That was clear in the convoy that came up to Queensland, who were powered by diesel and petrol. They were happy to come all the way from Tasmania to lecture the good people of Central Queensland about how evil, immoral and evil they were, but of course they were allowed to fill up at every petrol station along the way to make sure their convoy could continue to go. That hypocrisy is continuing, as well, with these new protesters. I noticed one of the first group of people, a group of two people who superglued themselves to Queen Street in the middle of Brisbane the other week. I can understand why supergluing yourself to a hot bitumen road would be uncomfortable in Brisbane. These two protesters had thoughtfully brought along some of those rubbery mats that click together—the jigsaw ones you can get at the hardware store. They had brought along some of them to lay down to superglue themselves to those. That was thoughtful and took a fair amount of planning in their case. However, I don't think they realise that those mats are called EVA foam mats. EVA stands for ethylene-vinyl acetate. The feedstock for that, the way you create that, is from a product called ethane, which is derived from petroleum products. So they were laying themselves on fossil fuels for their own comfort. They couldn't even, in their own protest, not rely on the uses and benefits of fossil fuels in our modern society.

It gets worse for them, though. I was doing a bit more research. The modern superglues themselves are also derived from petroleum products. How hard it is to be pure when you are a Green activist in this world! There are fossil fuels all around us. It is very hard to deny yourself the convenience of these modern products. Unfortunately, it is extremely hard for these protesters. It is just so unfortunate that we could not power our country through hypocrisy, because it would truly be the ultimate renewable power source. We would never have another blackout in this country if we could just harness the extent and significance of hypocrisy that comes from the Australian Greens and their like in our society and community.

It just continues on and on. Unfortunately they can't seem in any way to have a level of self-reflection about these matters. You would think that someone who faithfully—I give to the Australian Greens that they faithfully took a particular position on the Adani Carmichael mine—you would think that, having had that position so resoundingly rejected by the Australian people at an election just two months ago, they might want to reflect. They've asked us in this debate to listen to their protesters. I say I do. I've got no problem with their views, but I would like to Australian Greens to pay us the same courtesy and try to respect and listen to the people of Central and North Queensland and maybe understand what they are trying to say to the Australian Greens—what people who may not be on social media, who may not be on their Facebook feeds or their Twitter feeds might think and like for their own future. There has been no self-reflection from the Australian Greens since the election. There's been no understanding of the views of the Australian people and, unfortunately, that's unlikely to change any time soon.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.



get updates