Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (10:50): In my 27 years in the Senate, I have heard a lot of speeches. I have heard a lot of speeches from the Greens political party senators and I know a great many of them are based on deliberate mistruths. But never have I heard a speech like the one I have just been subjected to that is so full of misstatements, so full of deliberate wrongs that I am almost speechless.
Many people up my way would say that was a speech full of lies, absolute lies and distortions of fact. I will not say that, because the senator who just spoke would take any sort of point of order to stop me refuting the deliberate misstatements of fact she has just spent 20 minutes wasting this Senate's time in propagating and in so doing abused corporate companies that have done a hell of a lot of good around the world—and I will come to that later—and abused her political opponents with allegations of bribery and corruption, all of which she knows is simply not true.
I say to the previous speaker, if you have any evidence of this wrongdoing, which you have just spent 20 minutes alleging, please take it to the authorities. Please take it to the police or to the corporate agencies and have it properly tested. You cannot just get up in this chamber and have a list of mistruths about particular individuals and companies and try and pass that off as fact. If the senator had any skerrick of evidence, even a remote skerrick of evidence, she would report it and give the evidence to the police and the corporate authorities but of course she will not because that speech was just a litany of deliberate mistruths set out to appease the few people left who support her political party.
The former speaker talked about people power. I happened to be in Townsville when Adani announced that it would create its headquarters there and immediately employ up to 600 people, which, in a town like Townsville with 11 per cent unemployed, is a huge boost to the employment opportunities in that town. As I went in to that very well publicised opening of the office, the regional headquarters of Adani, by the Queensland Premier, by the Townsville mayor—both Labor people—and by Senator Canavan—a federal minister—there was a huge people power protest outside. When I went in, there were five people there from Townsvilles population of almost 200,000. There were five people opposing it. This is the 'people power' that the previous senator spoke about. But I have to concede, by the time we left that event after about an hour later, the number had swelled; it had gone up to nine in the hour that we were there.
Senator O'Sullivan: That is a 100 per cent increase.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Yes, a 100 per cent increase. So this is the people power that Senator Waters talked about. I want to read from the local paper, the Townsville Bulletin.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Griff ): Order! Senator Macdonald.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am just reading from the newspaper. This newspaper indicates—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, the use of props is always disorderly. Please refrain from using that.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am just reading from it. It is the front page of the Townsville Bulletin—the newspaper that serves North Queensland and northern Australia. It is totally supportive of this project, as is everybody in Townsville, North Queensland and northern Australia, because it will bring wealth to the north and it will create jobs for the 11 per cent unemployed in Townsville that, clearly, Senator Waters has absolutely no interest in at all. It will help the small businesses in North Queensland who are struggling to keep their doors open with the mining downturn. Those small businesses are mums and dads who have put their life savings into small business to see them going out the door. This project will help those people.
Adani contribute three per cent of their global profits every year to community projects. This is the company that Senator Waters is berating—three per cent of its global profits go to community projects around the world. Adani is also paying for school for 10,000 underprivileged kids in India. They have paid for infrastructure for 128 schools. Senator Waters claims to be looking after the poor people around the world and those less advantaged than ourselves. Here is a company that is doing it. What can Senator Waters do in this coward's castle of protection? Senator Waters is misleading, and deliberately maligning a company that has done so much around the world for others and the underprivileged.
When I put my name down to speak on this, I had a lot of things that I wanted to raise. But, after hearing that speech from—I am embarrassed to say—a senator from my own state of Queensland, I am afraid I will again have to spend most of my time pointing out, point by point, the deliberate misinformation that was contained in that speech. It was one of the most misleading and deliberately false speeches I have ever heard in my long period in this chamber.
First of all, Senator Waters keeps talking about giving out taxpayers' money. She knows that is wrong. She knows that if Adani apply to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and if the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility do provide funding after due diligence which will, in their normal way, be lengthy and detailed, it will be a loan. It will be a loan that will have to be repaid. The continual reference to giving away taxpayers' money is simply part of the Greens political party's ongoing campaign to do and say anything as long as they can get to a result that they think is right at the end.
The senator continues in this speech, and every speech, to tell the world that the Barrier Reef is dying. Everybody who lives up there knows that is false. I ask you to go and ask any one of the ambassadors to Australia from around the world that the foreign minister took to Cairns a couple of weeks ago—they have been out onto the Barrier Reef, they have seen it and they are amazed at its beauty, resilience and ongoing growth off the Queensland coast. The reef has, over the years, had ups and downs. It is very well managed by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. Its flourishing coral is growing in certain areas. Ask anyone up on the reef, any of the ambassadors or any tourist that goes there—the reef is magnificent and will stay there. I do not know who Senator Waters is being paid by, but, clearly, she is trying to say to tourists from Germany and North America, 'Don't come to Australia and spend your money. Go and spend your money somewhere else in the world.' That is the message that she is giving and deliberately giving.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Resume your seat, Senator Macdonald. Senator Waters, on a point of order.
Senator Waters: It is not my normal course to raise points of order, but obviously Senator Macdonald likes to raise spurious points of order all the time. However, he has just inferred that I am in receipt of monies for holding a position to protect the reef. I would ask him to withdraw that, because not only is it entirely false but I get paid to do my job; I do not accept corporate donations. These guys take the money from the big mining companies, not me. I would ask him to withdraw that.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, on the point of order?
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I raised the question: who is paying Senator Waters? But after a speech of 20 minutes, where she accused me of being bribed by international coal companies, the hypocrisy of the point of order is typical of the Greens political party.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Waters, on the point of order?
Senator Waters: That was not a withdrawal, Acting Deputy President, as you had asked Senator Macdonald to do.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, if you are insinuating that Senator Waters did accept the money under corrupt pretences, I would ask you to withdraw that.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Mr Acting Deputy President, you take what I said however you like. Senator Waters can—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: No, my question to you—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I did not say that, and it is exactly the same that she has said about me. Mr Acting Deputy President Ketter, I would ask you to refer this to the President for a ruling, but I do not intend to apologise to Senator Waters for anything I have said.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: No, the request was to withdraw the comment if you were insinuating that—Senator O'Sullivan, on the point of order?
Senator O'Sullivan: It is not a point of order. I heard it clearly: a question was posed. No assertion was made; a question was posed. If we have come to a point where we have to withdraw questions that are posed, we will not be able to function in this place.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Waters?
Senator Waters: It is an imputation, which is not permitted under the standing orders. These guys quarrel about having been here for 27 years. They should know what the standing orders say.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Mr Acting Deputy President—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, resume your seat for a moment. We will just consider this point. Senator Waters, Senator Macdonald has indicated that he did not make that imputation, so there is nothing to withdraw.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Always, when I making a point that hurts the Greens, they make these spurious points of order. Can I just remind those who might be listening that we were talking about the health and the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. Senator Waters, in her speech, said that the Adani coalmine is going to cause the death of the Great Barrier Reef—those are her words, not mine.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I refer you to the chief scientist of Australia, Dr Finkel, at estimates just two weeks ago. After I said to Dr Finkel:
… we emit less than 1.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions.
I asked Dr Finkel:
If we were to reduce the world's emissions of carbon by 1.3 per cent, what impact would that make on the changing climate of the world?
Dr Finkel replied 'virtually nothing'. If anyone wants to see that exchange, it is on my Facebook. It is the actual video recording of me asking Dr Finkel those questions and his response.
Even if you shut Australia down completely and stopped every emission from Australia—the 1.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions that Australia emits—according to the Chief Scientist, that would have virtually no impact whatsoever on the changing climate of the world. Yet the previous speaker would have any gullible listeners believe that Adani building a railway line and opening a coalmine 500 kilometres west of the Great Barrier Reef is somehow going to destroy the Great Barrier Reef.
The hypocrisy and the absolute deliberate mistruth of those statements just leaves me almost speechless. I cannot believe that a colleague in this chamber could so deliberately misstate facts that she tries to infer to the gullible listeners are truths. I cannot understand how Senate colleagues can be a part of that. Listen to Dr Finkel: any reduction in Australia's emissions will have virtually no impact on the changing climate of the world. That is the truth, that is the fact and that is the scientific opinion. But would you have Senator Waters and her mates in the Greens political party ever conceding that? Yet she talks about science and scientists. There is science! There is an opinion from the Chief Scientist of Australia, and that should be taken as fact. Senator Waters said, 'We have more cyclones and bushfires now because Adani is going to build a railway line 500 kilometres away from the Barrier Reef.' Who could possibly believe that? But the Greens go around convincing themselves that it is right and convincing the ever-dwindling band of fanatics who follow the Greens political party of those misstatements and outright lies.
The jobs to be created from this project mean so much to my state of Queensland—particularly to Townsville, where I am based. I know that Senator O'Sullivan has more detailed statistics on this and he will inform the Senate of these later, but I can tell you that this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to Central and North Queensland. That is why the Labor mayor, the Labor Premier and all of the Liberal-National Party state and federal members who represent those areas are totally and unanimously in support of this project. I do not have the statistics—I am sure Senator O'Sullivan will—but there are about 300 conditions placed upon Adani by Queensland and Commonwealth environmental authorities on the things they have to do in the construction and the development of the coalmine. They are some of the most stringent conditions I have seen imposed on any development application in Australia. Adani have accepted them and will follow them. As a result, according to the experts—Senator Waters claims that she is the expert—the scientists in the department of the environment in Queensland and the department of the environment federally, who have been through the conditions, if these conditions are met then the environment is perfectly safe. The suggestion that we will have bushfires and cyclones because Adani is building a coalmine 500 kilometres inland is just absolutely ludicrous and typical of the Greens political party.
We have heard the allegations about donations to the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. I do not know whether that is true or not; I have never seen them and I am not part of it. But I do know that the Greens political party received the biggest donation in Australia's political history from a businessman donor. Then, coincidentally, would you believe, a couple of weeks after that—I am one of the few Senators who was here for this—the then leader of the Greens political party moved that offline or community newspapers should be tax exempt. And guess who was proposing to open such a newspaper? None other than Mr Graeme Wood: the guy who gave $1.6 million, the biggest donation ever in Australia's political history, to the Greens political party.
Senator Waters went on to say that coal is destroying the world. We know, as a matter of fact, that China opens one new coal fired power station every week and we know that India—and these are the two biggest, most populous countries in the world—continues to build coal fired power stations. We know that even Germany, the epitome of goodness and light environmentally these days, has just completed a coal fired power station.
We also know that the poor people of India and China are as much entitled to electricity as Senator Waters is, sitting in her ivory tower in Brisbane or the Gold Coast. She can have air conditioning, she can have electricity and she can turn on the stove and get instant heat. But she does not want the people of India or China to do that. No, no, no! It is okay for her and her Greens mates but no good for the poor people—the destitute people—of India and China. The clean energy projects that create the jobs that Senator Waters continues to talk about—most of those jobs are created overseas, and those that are created in Australia are hugely subsidised by the Australian taxpayer.
Time is running out for me, unfortunately, but can I just again highlight the unfortunate misinformation that was contained in the speech that was delivered to the Senate just before mine? It was on broadcast day, of course. Greens senators always make sure they make these outrageous claims on broadcast day. No decision has been made, as far as I am aware—unless it has happened in the last five minutes, and I do not even know whether Adani have applied for it—about any money that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility might give to Adani. Senator Waters said that taxpayers are going to give Adani $1 million. Clearly, if—and I emphasise that if—the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility gives them anything, it will be a loan repayable with interest on commercial terms.
I also re-emphasise that nothing that Adani will do will in any way have any impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Again, I refer people to Hansard—it is there; look at it yourself, do not believe me. Look at Hansard and look at the video clip, where I said to Dr Finkel:
… if we reduce the world's carbon emissions by 1.3 per cent--
Which is what Australia emits—
what impact would that have on the changing climate of the world?
Dr Finkel: Virtually nothing.
Virtually none! And so Senator Waters claims that Adani are going to kill the reef, bring cyclones and bring bushfires are just so much scaremongering. As I said, I am speechless to find the term for my disgust of for colleague in this chamber telling such deliberate and outright untruths in a debate such as this.
Thank you, Adani, for what you are doing for the unemployed people in Townsville and Central Queensland, who I care about. Clearly, Senator Waters does not care about them but I care about them. Thank you, Adani, on behalf of all the small businesses, the mums and dads who were struggling to stay open, for what your project will mean for Townsville and North and Central Queensland. Thank you for that. Thank you for what you have done around the world—helping schools and helping children; helping the poor to get electricity. And thank you for being a good corporate citizen for Australia. Long may you reign! All the very best, and I speak on behalf of everyone in Queensland in saying all the best for your project. (Time expired)