SPEECH – “Glenn Lazarus abandons Queensland farmers”

19 April 2016

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.