Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) (16:50): I do not want to make a practice of this, but I do have to open
today, in the interests of transparency, with a confession. My confession is that I do not often get excited
by anything that the Greens party says, but today I simply could not believe it when they wanted to invite a
debate with my government on the question of courage. Here we have an antijobs, anti-industry, anti-employee,
antidevelopment party that wants to have a discussion with the Turnbull government on the question of courage.
Well, I can tell you: we are up to it, so sit up, kick your shoes off and have a listen.
It took a lot of courage to implement policies in this nation to increase jobs—last year, under the coalition, over
300,000 new jobs. That is in the face of a party that wants to have a discussion about courage—an antijobs party,
a party that publishes on its own website that in the next five years it wants to get rid of the hundreds of thousands
of jobs in the coal industry, wiping places like Central Queensland, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone off
the face of the map without any regard to the hundreds of thousands of families and the economies of all of those
communities. So I am happy to have a discussion with you about courage in relation to that. Sixty per cent of the
jobs that were created by us last year were full-time jobs—180,000 jobs. That is 180,000, probably, mums and
dads and other forms of family structures around the country who now have a better standard of living because
our government has had the courage to implement those decisions and those policies that are job-creating. So I
am happy to talk to you about courage there.
I am also happy to have a discussion with you about courage when you are a pro unlawful immigration party.
You actually promote unlawful immigration. So if you want to talk about courage, there is the courage of our
government to stop the boats, to save the 1,200 deaths on the high seas—a fact you have never mentioned. I have
been here two years and not once have the Greens and Labor made reference to the fact of that terrible loss of
life. Under our government, under the courage it takes to stop the boats, not one death on the high seas. So if
you want to talk about courage, I am happy to talk about courage.
Let’s talk about courage with children in detention—1,992 children were in detention under the Greens and Labor.
We have had the courage to reduce that, to put in place policies and measures to reduce that now to fewer than
- They are the sorts of things that take courage if you want to have a discussion.
We have committed, in somewhat difficult financial times, to a $50 billion infrastructure plan. That is over three
times the commitment to the Snowy River scheme, in difficult economic circumstances. We have got the courage
to go ahead and do it. We have got the people who are going to manage the economy to make sure that we deliver
on it. That is courage if you want to have a talk about courage.
If you want to talk about courage: the development of northern Australia. This is the place where you want work
practices to change, where you want things in the agricultural industry to change to make it almost unviable. This
is the place where you, with the Labor Party, wiped off hundreds of millions of dollars of value across family
farms and enterprises right across northern Australia and brought a billion dollar industry to its knees in less than
one hour. You want to talk about courage, I will tell you what courage is: to restore that industry. Courage is
to bring it back from death’s door, as we have done, as this government have done in our term and restore it to
where it is now—an absolutely viable industry, allowing some of those people to have survived.
I am happy to talk to you about courage today and any other day. It was a mistake for you to put the word
‘courage’ in your motion. If you want to talk about courage, it takes courage for a country under this government
to go ahead and finalise three major trade agreements and the TPP when you and the Greens for seven years
resisted it. It has increased—
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Senator O’SULLIVAN: I know you don’t like to hear this. It has increased the value of agricultural exports
by 29 per cent—over $10 billion. So now we have thousands of families, my heart constituency, who are far
better off living in northern Australia and right across agricultural sector. This year alone, we have had a 29 per
cent increase in the volume of agricultural exports in certain classes. Barley, canola and chickpeas are all up.
Chickpeas are up 39 per cent. It takes courage for a government to fast-track and enter into those relations to
make sure that they produce a deal that is in the interests of their country.
It would be unfair if I did not mention the fact that our friends in the Greens party also have courage. It takes
courage to mislead the Australian people on the impacts of climate change, to frighten people so it impacts on
their business plans. It takes courage to mislead the Australian people on kangaroo populations to a point where
it makes it difficult for us to get the kangaroo harvesting industry up and going. It would provide 4,000 jobs in the
bush and over a hundred million dollar boost in to economies and communities all across western Queensland,
New South Wales and a little bit of Victoria. It takes courage to come out and say you are going to destroy the
coalmining industry and all the tens and tens and tens of thousands of jobs and the knock-on jobs for families
that that will have.
It takes courage to go to the Australian people and tell them you are going to advocate the introduction of death
duties—if you ever find your way into a position to be able to do it. It takes courage to elevate policy positions
that will destroy economies and economic activities in rural communities in your antijobs and antidevelopment
In closing, any time, any place, here or outside, that you want to have a debate with this government about what
we have done and what you have not done, make sure you plant the word ‘courage’ fairly in the sentence and
make the job of turning you down as easy as it has been. Thank you for the opportunity.