Consideration Of Senate Message
Mr COULTON (Parkes—Chief Nationals Whip) (11:31): I too rise in support of the amendment moved by the member for Maranoa and the Leader of The Nationals. Water is our most valuable resource, and we need to have safeguards around the use of water to protect the resource for future generations. It doesn’t mean we should prohibit the use of that water—it’s a resource, and I firmly believe that these resources are to be used to the benefit of the whole of society—but we need to have safeguards. I think this is a sensible amendment.
But what we have seen today in this debate is the tale of two members of parliament: the member for Flynn, who is a man of the land whose family still produces beef and grain in a sustainable manner in the electorate of Flynn, and the member for Melbourne, who has turned one
of the great rivers of Australia into a concrete drain. When the member for Melbourne comes in here and starts talking about restoring the Yarra to its original condition, maybe talks about the businesses in the CBD of Melbourne turning their lights off when they go home at night-time, maybe stops flying around in jets to climate change conferences all over to globe, maybe I will take some notice. I’ve said in this place and I’ll repeat it: my dung beetles have done more for the environment than the member for Melbourne!
We see a lot of talk in this place from people in the leafy suburbs of the capital cities. In the last debate we had here, two weeks ago about the Murray-Darling Basin, we had the members who represent those communities and who are fighting for those communities debating people who were reading from prepared speeches on ideological background. They’ve got no skin in the game. The member for Flynn has skin in the game. He lives on top of the Great Artesian Basin, as does my electorate, as do the farmers in my electorate who rely on this water and they have for a long time.
I support this amendment. It’s important that we protect our resources. But, unlike the Greens, I don’t oppose extractive industries. The Greens are opposing the industries that keep their lights on. How does the member for Melbourne think Melbourne was built? Did the good fairies come in and build those concrete, steel and glass structures? Somewhere in Victoria there is a hole in the ground where the raw materials came from that built that city. Somewhere in regional Australia the people, as we’re speaking here today, are out there producing the food for the residents of the member for Melbourne’s electorate. Somewhere out in regional Australia coalminers are digging up coal to keep the lights on for the member for Melbourne. It drives me absolutely to distraction in this place when people want to bite the hand that feeds them. I support this amendment. It’s common sense, and we should support it.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Freelander): The question is that the amendments moved by the member for Maranoa be agreed to, and I call the minister.