Tonight, I rise to speak on something that I had not witnessed in this chamber before. Early this evening, I witnessed a senator support a motion in this place that had a direct capacity to damage the interests of his own state.
I am referring to the support that Senator Glenn Lazarus gave here this evening to a motion by the Greens. That motion talked about rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership to protect South Australian jobs.
Let me repeat that: a Queensland senator supported a motion to protect South Australian jobs. Senator Lazarus makes a habit of moving around our state, telling people he is the farmers’ friend. My message to you tonight, Senator Lazarus, is that there are a lot fewer farmers in Queensland who think you are their friend as we start to expose your attitudes to matters of agriculture.
The TPP will eliminate tariffs on more than $4.3 billion worth of Australia’s dutiable exports.
It will affect beef —and a fact you would not have known, Senator Lazarus, is that 66 per cent of the beef industry in this country is in your and my home state of Queensland. For you to come out and support a motion to protect South Australian jobs rather than to protect the jobs in the beef industry in my home state is a fact that should be well circulated around Queensland. Second is sugar. It is a big day for Senator Lazarus on sugar.
Senator Lazarus came out today in the media to support a sugar tax that will impact on the sugar industry, and predominantly that industry is in ourhome state of Queensland—his home state of Queensland. This will have a massive impact.
Both Senator Lazarus and I have had a bit of sugar over the years, and there is no need to get cranky about it now as we both reach our 60th birthdays, but to affect the 4½ thousand sugar families in the 38 small communities in my home state who rely upon income from sugar, by rejecting the TPP in favour of jobs in South Australia, was a bizarre step.
I suspect the only defence that Senator Lazarus is going to have—and we will wait till tomorrow for him to respond in the media, because I intend to make sure every media outlet in my state has this material—is that he did not read the motion. That is the only defence he could have.
He has some form on that, of course, with the trucking issue. I have to say, to his credit, he was able to backflip on that, and he should backflip on this. I will stand up and defend our agricultural industries right across my home state, and I do not care whether it is Senator Lazarus or another Lazarus, who comes from biblical times.
He is opposed to rice. We have a burgeoning rice industry in North Queensland, which, again, underpins the difficulties that we are seeing in the sugar industry.
Dairy—for crikey’s sake! Dairy has been in the doldrums in my home state for so long—why would Senator Lazarus support a motion to save jobs in South Australia only to lose those same jobs in my home state of Queensland in the dairy industry?
As to cereals: in the next couple of days I will educate all you cereal farmers out there on what Senator Lazarus has done here. He has taken your interests and set them aside for the interests of jobs in South Australia.
That will impact on hundreds if not thousands of jobs for those who produce cereals and grains in my home state.
On seafood: we have been struggling to get an aquaculture industry going in our home state. The Greens have just devoted their entire lives to eliminating the wild harvest of fish and products of the sea. And Senator Lazarus has just joined them.
So there will not be a fisherman from Coolangatta to Cairns who will not be interested to know that Senator Lazarus sat here with the Greens—the natural enemies of everything to do with agriculture— and voted with them, as he has done so many times, to make sure that this impacted on jobs in our home state.
He has done a dirty deal with the Greens. We are going to see them preference him in the Queensland election. That is the only reason Glenn Lazarus has done this today. I intend to devote the entire election to making sure that, line by line, every farmer in Queensland knows exactly his voting history with the Greens in anti-agricultural motions.
MEDIA RELEASE: “Prime Minister’s decision to axe the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal is a win for common sense, says O’Sullivan.”
10 April 2016
Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan said the Prime Minister’s announcement today to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) provided the clearest pathway to ensure the long-term viability of the transport industry.
Senator O’Sullivan said he would now happily retire his own private Senator’s bill and throw his full support behind the Prime Minister’s plan to reallocate funds from an abolished RSRT to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).
“Today the Prime Minister has made clear his long term intention is to abolish the tribunal,” Senator O’Sullivan.
“This is the news so many of us have wanted to hear. This is a win for common sense.
“This decision demonstrates the Prime Minister has listened to the concerns of owner-drivers across the nation and is prepared to take decisive action to defend the interests of small business in Australia.
“I now call on my federal colleagues of all political persuasions to support this plan to give real certainty to our owner-drivers.”
MEDIA RELEASE: North West Highways get connected with latest rollout of telecommunications infrastructure
6 April 2016
Queensland LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan reckons he’s probably worn out the better part of his throat and tonsils with the number of conversations he’s had about improving telecommunication infrastructure in rural and remote Queensland.
In fact, one of the first promises he made when he arrived in Canberra in 2014 was to roll out his swag in front of the Communications Minister’s office and refuse to leave until there were some promises delivered to rural communities.
Senator O’Sullivan said some of this hard labour was finally paying dividends with the announcement that North West Queensland has secured a $17.15 million telecommunications package to construct 18 new or upgraded base stations across the region.
This latest round of Federal Government funds will provide mobile coverage for townships such as McKinlay, Normanton and Urandangi as well as crucial outback thoroughfares such as the Barkly Highway, between Mount Isa and Camooweal and the Wills Developmental Road, between Burketown and Four Ways.
In total, 55 of the 157 identified mobile black spots in the North West will be covered by this latest round of funding.
While it will never come soon enough for some, Senator O’Sullivan said there is a “sure and steady transformation” taking place across rural and remote Queensland this year, with significant rollouts of telecommunication and NBN-satellite technology linking many communities for the first time.
He said while there was still much work to be done to lift the standards of connectivity in the bush, the gradual delivery of telecommunication infrastructure was providing clear evidence of the Federal Government’s commitment to rural Queensland.
“Pushing for telecommunications funding in Canberra is almost a blood sport among politicians,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“Every region wants to gain a bigger and bigger slice of the limited funds available and it gets very competitive.
“Australia is so vast and the demand for connectivity is so strong that the government has no choice but to roll out this infrastructure in a gradual way.
“I think North West Queenslanders can take real pleasure from the fact they have been assured a massive share of this latest funding round.”
The Mobile Black Spot Programme will deliver almost 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations around Australia, with a total funding commitment of $385 million.
This is the most significant one-time increase in mobile network coverage to regional and remote Australia delivered by a single public funding programme in the history of mobile communications in Australia.
MEDIA RELEASE : Looming deadline is no April Fools – O’Sullivan calls for abolition of Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to save thousands of family businesses from its vicious orders
1 April 2016
Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan said tens of thousands of family operated transport companies and their customers across rural and regional Australia could be driven to bankruptcy due to the radical economic agenda of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
Senator O’Sullivan said he is prepared to deliver a private member’s bill to the federal parliament in the coming weeks to stop the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in its tracks.
He said the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) has caused unnecessary worry and heartache for more than 35,000 owner-drivers across Australia since it was handed down by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in December.
The RSRO dictates legally binding minimum hourly and kilometre payments for owner-drivers, which will see the cost of delivery increase by 15-30 per cent above the market rate charged by bigger transport companies.
“Basic economics demonstrates that when two products are roughly the same, such as in the transport sector, the lower price wins,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“The tribunal’s legally binding payment order will force owner-operators to charge higher rates than their bigger transport company competitors. It places owner-drivers at a significant competitive disadvantage.
“This will ruin family run businesses all across the nation and allow large transport operators, and their union workforces, to take more and more market share.
“The tribunal’s order is an insult to every honest business operator and worker in this nation who believes in a free and fair marketplace.”
Senator O’Sullivan said the tribunal was established by the Gillard Government in 2012 as a Statutory Body with the power to make decisions independent of the Federal Government.
As a result, he said the ability of the Turnbull Government to overturn any decision by the tribunal would require an act of parliament.
As it currently stands, the payments order will apply to owner drivers from 4 April.
The tribunal is currently considering a proposal to delay the commencement of the order until the end of the year to allow owner drivers to understand the order and modify their business practices.
A decision on any change to the start date of the payments order is expected by COB Friday April 1.
Senator O’Sullivan said urgent action needed to be taken to prevent the tribunal from causing irreversible damage to Australia’s transport sector.
“I understand some of my colleagues are already undertaking work to investigate the available options to challenge the stranglehold this tribunal has over our national transport sector,” Senator O’Sullivan.
“My contribution is to explore how legislation could be drafted to overturn this payment order and ultimately abolish the tribunal.
“I’m prepared to go door to door to every Senator’s office and make my case for the termination of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
“I welcome the release of the two reports that reviewed the operation of the Road Safety Remuneration System. Their findings only add further fuel to the calls for the scrapping of the remuneration tribunal.
“This tribunal has demonstrated that’s its members have radical agenda that could destroy small businesses across the nation.
“We are better to chop its head off and make sure it can’t come back to bite us again.”