Gunns Ltd Pulp Mill - 17/03/2014


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:14): It is probably clear that this is not a matter for which I have any direct responsibility these days, but I sit in my office listening to more and more misrepresentations and, generally, lies of the political party represented by Greens senators in this chamber.

Senator Milne: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. It is unparliamentary to be describing the contributions of senators as lies. Let us have a specific example of a lie, if you are going to make such allegations.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You might note, Mr Acting Deputy President, that I chose my words carefully. I said 'lies of the political party represented by Greens senators in this chamber'. I am not accusing any particular senator of lying; I am saying it is typical of the lies of the Greens political party.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Whish-Wilson ): There is no point of order.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I wish to relate a little story. When I was the parliamentary secretary to the then Minister for the Environment, I employed a very good staffer, who had, at one stage, worked for Greenpeace. She left Greenpeace because she said she could not stand the lies of Greenpeace and, in particular, the environment movement, because they worked on the basis that the ends justified the means. In other words, you would tell any lie, create any diversion or misrepresentation you liked, as long as you got to achieve the ends. For years the Greens political party, Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society in Tasmania have tried to destroy this industry.

I was not involved in the recent Tasmanian election but I can read the results, as can anyone. The Liberal Party and Mr Will Hodgman made it very clear what their proposals were for the forest industries. They were endorsed by a significant majority of Tasmanians. Yet the Greens will not accept this. The Greens think they know better than the voters of Tasmania. The voters of Tasmania have indicated their disdain for the Greens political party, and rightly so.

The same thing occurred back in the 2004 federal election. You might recall that John Howard finally, in the last few days of the campaign, came down on the side of the forestry industry in Tasmania. He was hedging his bets until the last minute, but he went to that very significant rally in, I think, Launceston. There, surrounded by people wearing hard hats and blue singlets, the Liberal Prime Minister was cheered when he said he was going to look after the forestry industry. From that day I thought we had destroyed the wish of the Greens political party to destroy this significant, sustainable industry of Australia. I thought we had won. I was the then forestry minister and we had spent three years working with the 'F' part of the CFMEU, day in and day out, to get a solution that was good for Tasmania, good for the environment and good for jobs. I applaud the forestry division, then represented by the current president of the CFMEU, because we worked together to get a result, against the then Labor opposition leader, who fell into some difficulties. I have even forgotten his name!

Senator Ronaldson: Mr Latham.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thank you, Senator Ronaldson; Mr Latham. He was going with the environmentalists because he thought it meant votes in Sydney and Melbourne, and it did not matter that it was not very good policy.

The forestry industry in Tasmania is world class. It is better than any other forestry industry around the world. Yet the Greens have been on this campaign for 20 years, trying to shut down that industry, so we can import into Australia logs that are taken from forests in the Solomons and Indonesia which used to be raped by people who had no idea of how to run a sustainable forestry industry. It seemed to me that then Senator Bob Brown was all in favour of the rape of the forests of the Solomon Islands, Indonesia and Malaysia, and importing that all into Australia when Australia's most sustainable industry in the forestry industry was being shut down by the Greens political party.

What encouraged me to leave the work I was doing in my office and come down and participate in this debate was the fact that Mr Will Hodgman has just won an unprecedented victory in the Tasmanian election. His proposals for the forestry industry were not hidden. Everybody knew what they were. Did they vote for Mr Hodgman or did they vote for the Greens political party?

It is a rhetorical question. We all know that the Greens were annihilated and, if it had not been for the strange system in Tasmania, they would have been off the map. Ten years ago I predicted that the Greens had reached their peak and that they were on the downward slide. I think the result in the Tasmanian election—the heartland and place where the Greens political party was formed—has demonstrated that, as a political force, the Greens are finished. People have woken up to them. And that is a fact. People now understand that they cannot believe anything that the Greens political party tell them. They have only got to see what happened to all the sustainable logging just south-east of the city of Canberra. It was the most controlled industry of any in Australia.

I well remember, back in 1990, then Senator Richardson, with the urgings of the Greens, shutting down the forestry industry on the Atherton Tablelands, in northern Queensland. I well remember him going there and saying, 'This forest is so sustainable, we've got to protect it.' But, as the locals pointed out, it had been logged for 100 years. Yet former Senator Richardson and the Greens thought it was a pristine forest. Similarly, my colleague Senator Colbeck has over the last few weeks been pointing out photos of parts of the Tasmanian forest which are described as pristine but which have also been logged for 100 years. It is that sort of misrepresentation, those sorts of lies, which come from the environmental movement that the people of Tasmania eventually woke up to. The people of Queensland have woken up to them before.

There are all of these arguments that the Great Barrier Reef is going to be destroyed by spoil from the Abbot Point harbour project being dumped out on the reef. Of course, the spoil is being dumped tens of kilometres from the Barrier Reef—nowhere near it. If you looked at anything the Greens political party said, you would think the spoil was being dumped straight on the reef. This is just another example. Anywhere you see an environmental protest sponsored by radical groups, the Greens and GetUp, you will know there will be a fallacy in relation to it.

But do we hear anything about the Greenpeace ship that was in the Cairns harbour, with former senator Bob Brown on board? I think he is now the patron of Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd. Its ship is leaking oil into the Cairns harbour. Now, that will cause environmental damage. Do we hear the Greens moving motions about Bob Brown's ship in the Cairns harbour leaking oil into the Great Barrier Reef area? No. We do not talk about it. We only talk about it when we can attack the Liberal government here or in Tasmania. On the occasions that ALP governments have had the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up to the Greens, the Greens attack them. But, when their ship in the Cairns port leaks oil into the Great Barrier Reef, there is not a murmur from the Greens political party. Can you imagine what would have been said if an Australian Navy vessel had done that? We would have had motions before this chamber and we would have had protests in the streets. But because Bob Brown is on board the Sea Shepherd ship, when it leaks oil into the Great Barrier Reef—not a word.

I conclude my remarks by saying that Will Hodgman was upfront and open about what he proposed. I cannot even tell you exactly what it was—I did not follow it that closely—but he was upfront. Yet on election night we have the Greens leader threatening Will Hodgman for honouring the promise he made and which the Tasmanian voters so strongly supported.

Question agreed to.

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