John McKenzie 4CA Cairns Interview with Senator Ian Macdonald

John Mackenzie: I believe youve covered a fair bit of ground over the last week or so. Where are you now exactly
Senator Macdonald: Im in Innisfail at the moment as it happens, John, but were at the end of my annual seven-day driving trip around western and north-western Queensland and were on our way home to Ayr at the moment. But we've been on the road for seven days, 3,500 kilometres later and I've had a lot more information in the last week than I have had in the last year I think from people on the ground.
John Mackenzie: Tony Abbott does a lot of this sort of thing too, doesnt he, has he set a trend getting grass-roots feedback Its a good way to feel the pulse of the people.
Senator Macdonald: Well it certainly is, John, and Tony has been doing that for a while now. He does it without much publicity either and I like to think hes following me rather than me following him But I have been doing this for about 20 years now. Its a great way to find out what real people are thinking about and trying to experience some of the deprivations they go through living in more remote parts of the country.
John Mackenzie: We certainly miss out on things like infrastructure up this way. There is a lot of talk and newspaper coverage recently about damage to infrastructure in south-east Queensland with the calamities earlier this year. There needs to be massive upgrades and rebuilding to roads and bridges and the like in SEQ. Talk to me about infrastructure generally. We really have a big bill to get things moving again.
Senator Macdonald: Thats right, John, but its something we have put up with in the north for a long, long period of time. Its almost nice to see (I dont really mean that) but at least people in the south now are understanding some of the things that we go through all the time. We dont spend enough on infrastructure. I know moneys always short, but we try to fix up the Bruce Highway and the Hann Highway down from the Lynd, down through Hughenden really needs doing. Some of the roads Ive been over in the last few days, not used by a lot of people, but the people who do use them the mining trucks, the cattle trucks are the people who make the money for Australia and governments really do need to put a lot more money into them.
John Mackenzie: What were some of the main issues raised with you on this trip
Senator Macdonald: The Carbon Tax is a very big issue because people understand it means increased freight costs and increased costs of power. People in the south, John, dont understand that up here air-conditioning is not a luxury, its an essential. They dont understand that they rack out a lot of power and all of thats going to be on top of the rising cost-of-living increases already, so, no matter where I went people understood that issue and theyre very, very angry about it. Bio-Regional Planning up in the Gulf was an issue too. Its an issue in Cairns, its an issue anywhere in the north, no consultation. In fact I was at a meeting where someone had a very good line: Were going to lock up the Gulf of Carpentaria from Australian fishermen to allow the Indonesian fishermen a free and open hand there. When they lock these things up it's only the Australians who follow the rules. Our fishermen also know when the illegal fishers are in our waters.
John Mackenzie: How did the greenies get so much say in what happens up here and why is there so little consultation with the people most affected
Senator Macdonald: Well John, the answer to that last question is simply that the Greens give their preferences to the Labor Party and it keeps them in power and so they do anything the Greens and their wacko mates in the PEW Environmental Trust tell them to do. Many of these people have never done a decent days work in their lives. Its just absolutely ridiculous. You dont conserve things if you lock them up and then dont manage them. The best managers, and weve proved this on the Barrier Reef, are the tourist operators who keep them good. Recreational fishing is the lifeblood of this area, not just for commercial reasons and tourism reasons but also for those of us who live here. Its one of the great joys of living in the north that you can do that. But, gee, were not going to be able to do it for much longer if PEW and their cronies get their way.
John Mackenzie: Thanks Ian for your time today.
Senator Macdonald: Good to speak to you againJohn and keep up the good work.

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