BILLS - Treasury Laws Amendment (North Queensland Flood Recovery) Bill 2019 - Second Reading

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:56): Obviously, I support the Treasury Laws Amendment (North Queensland Flood Recovery) Bill 2019. As most senators will know, I'm based in Townsville, I live in Ayr and I treat Northern Queensland as my electorate. I'm very, very familiar with the cattle industry, the pastoral industry, in western Queensland, stretching from Charters Towers out to Mount Isa and beyond Camooweal to the border. It's a remarkable industry. It's a wealth creator for Australia. It has its difficult times. We saw the horrific pictures of cattle dying. Some were caught in trees as a result of the flood. I think, Mr Acting Deputy President O'Sullivan, you were out there not long after the floods themselves. You would be well aware of the distress, the hurt and the loss of income.

I thank the government for introducing this bill. Senator Cameron has explained it, and the second reading speech of the minister has explained in detail what the bill is about. I just want to use my contribution to say thank you on behalf of the people of north-west Queensland who were in the floods and also the people of Townsville who were inundated by floodwaters—and some of them are still suffering—for the enormous government expenditure, the grants which have been generously given by the government and supported by every parliamentarian. I just want to express my thanks.

Whilst it's very much alive in the minds of Queenslanders, I also want to thank those who live in the capital cities in the south for their forbearance. Very often some might say, 'Why is all this money going to these industries far away?' But I know that people in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide—every capital city—support the work of the government in trying to ameliorate as best the government can and as best the taxpayer can some of the impacts of the flood. I can only feel for the pastoralists and other primary producers in the north-west. They do face droughts regularly. There have been floods of this magnitude before, and in relatively recent times they've had floods that were not quite as bad and not quite in the same area—but they are part of life out there. Then, of course, these pastoralists had the live cattle export ban, which perhaps did more economically to destroy them than these floods have done. So they've had a pretty rough time. They're just coming out of that live export ban. They were dealing with the drought, and then these floods came. So can I, on their behalf, thank the government and also thank those who live in other parts of Australia for their support at this very difficult time.

The PRESIDENT: As we approach 5 pm, we will move to the first speeches of two of our new senators. Albeit a couple of seconds early, I will call Senator Askew.

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