It is always important – after expressions of sadness – that we throw some joy and light into our lives, and that is what I have chosen to do. I woke up today one of the most excited men in the Australian bush. Do you know why? It was because of the good news story of last night for all of those terrific people who live in provincial Australia—Western Australia, the western parts of my state and some of the other areas. Senator Collins—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—despite everything positive that you could have said about these changes in education—not just the stuff announced by Senator Birmingham the other day but the $44 million we are putting into supporting isolated families with the education of their children and the $15 million being put into regional university hubs—despite all the positive things that you could have said about education, you did not. I will tell you why you are unhappy. It is because you are now witnessing a government that for the first time can declare, with evidence, which we are going to return the economy of this nation back to a surplus. Remember Mr Swan’s assertions?
Forty-seven times he declared we would return to a surplus—47 times—and 47 times he failed. So whether you like it or not, I intend to devote my time to talking about the good news stuff that came in the budget last night for our country, for our nation, and, most importantly, with a slant and an emphasis on what is happening in the bush and in regional and rural Australia—the place that nourishes every single one of us in Australia, the place that produces the great wealth, the place that balances our accounts and the place where we have had an increase in agricultural soft commodities.
I have got to tell you—I am going to lay it on the table and I said it in a radio interview just recently—this is where Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals, with their colleagues here in the coalition and the Liberal Party, have delivered. We have delivered: we are rewarding people in rural and regional Australia for the efforts that they have put in. They have had a tough time of it, and it is about time they can pick up a telephone and use it like every one of you can. That is why we spent $2.7 billion on Sky Muster. It is about time that they can get a good-quality, cutting-edge education for their children. It is something you get for a remote fraction of what it costs our families in the bush.
I know it absolutely irks you to see that we have been able to lift, for example, agriculture, one of the great pillars of this nation’s economy. We have lifted its performance by 23 per cent—$60 billion worth of exports of soft commodities. This is in the face of messages that we get from the Labor Party and the Greens, who resist aspects to do with our trade agreements. They were against the TPP. They were against clauses that existed in our Korean, Japanese and Chinese trade agreements. The opposition and the Greens are people who do not want to see people in the bush get ahead. They resent the fact that money has been spent on the inland rail. We have heard them talk about it. All they want to talk about is putting a cross-river crossing somewhere here and a rail link between this suburb and that suburb. They are too tired to pedal their bike out to the airport that is 25 minutes away. They want an eight-lane highway out there but they want our people in the bush to flog themselves to get their commodities.
Do you know what? It costs more to get commodities from some parts of the bush to the Port of Melbourne or the Port of Brisbane than from some of those ports to the Middle East. We are finally about to put an end to that. This is a dream that has come to realisation with our inland rail project and the $8.4 billion commitment from this coalition government. I have to tell you: after this budget came down last night, you people are going to have to work a lot harder. There is not one single vote for you inside the Great Dividing Range any longer, because those people have realised that, with our efforts to try and bring these things into play, all you have done is resist.
We have seen my Senate colleagues from the Labor Party vote in block to support a motion to close down the black coal industry in my home state of Queensland. So I have got to tell you: all the people in central Queensland, all those good people who live in the Galilee Basin, the tens of thousands of businesses in Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone are watching this very closely. For those who missed it, I have made it my mission to go out and fill in the gaps so they know exactly what sort of support they are getting from their senators in Queensland and indeed our federal members up there in the Labor Party.
The benefits of this inland rail are going to be phenomenal. It is a project that will include construction of over 1,700 kilometres of rail. If you happen to be living in these places—Albury, Wagga, Parkes and Moree; in my own home state, Inglewood, Millmerran, Toowoomba, in particular, where I happen to live and all the way through the Lockyer Valley to the port of the Brisbane—you will be celebrating today that, finally, every one of those local communities, every one of those regional and district economies, are going to get a lift here that they have not seen since they settled those districts in the 1800s. This is the biggest uplift they have ever had. If you want to park that beside the $5 billion development of the northern Australia fund, if you want to park it beside the $2.5 billion dams package which is going to store water and bring prosperity to regions at the moment that are struggling from the drought—and I know you hate hearing it—and the cessation of the live cattle—
Senator Farrell: Why didn’t you tell the truth?
Senator O’SULLIVAN: No, well you can. Let me say to you, through you, Mr Acting Deputy Chair Back: you people brought thousands of families to their knees. You do not care—you do not even know their names. I can tell you their names. I can tell you the names of their children and their grandparents. You brought them to their knees. You have done nothing but battle against development in the western parts of our nation—absolutely, from top to bottom.
Senator Farrell: Why didn’t you tell them you were increasing taxes?
Senator «O’SULLIVAN» : No, you have done it in this place. In fact, you were here, Senator, and you voted for it. I will tell you what—why don’t you go down to the Department of the Human Services and tell them that right from this very second there is no more money to come to you, but you had better turn up for the job. Tell them they had better pay the expenses of bringing themselves there—
Senator Farrell interjecting—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT : Senator Farrell, a point of order?
Senator Farrell: Senator O’Sullivan is simply not telling the truth in this chamber. He has not told the Australian people why he did not go to the last election telling them about the tax increases.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order, Senator Farrell.
Senator «O’SULLIVAN : What a feeble defence. Even when the Senator had an opportunity to make an argument that I did not tell the truth, he did not relate it to the decision of the Australian Labor Party to cease the live cattle export. That is what I was expecting him to say, and there is a reason he cannot. And I have got some respect for this Senator. He will not mislead this place, and if he had said that he would have misled this place.
Under Labor, for so many decades, every time they were office they could not use their telephone. There were no roads built or invested in across the western parts of our country, the bush and the provinces, to develop things. They have no members out there because they would just tar and feather them and run them out of town, between them and the Greens.
I invited the Greens yesterday to come with me up into the Galilee Basin and explain to the 14,000 people who have lost their jobs because of the resistance between them and you people in relation to the coal industry. I could not guarantee their safety, and I mentioned that. They would have to come up and put a false moustache on with a wig. But the fact of the matter is that no-one has taken up my offer. It has been out there for 24 hours, so let me refresh it: anybody on that side of the chamber who wants to roll their swag—now, that might need a bit of explanation. That is a bed-roll that you use when there is not a five-star out the window of your Comcar. If you want to roll your swag and pick up a tin billy—now that is an old cream tin you use to boil water to make a cup of tea when there is no latte shop next to where your office is. If you want to come with me into the bush, I will take you. I will fund you, and we will go up bush and you can meet these people. You can tell them straight up. I will take you to meet the 12,000 people who are employed in the coal industry in the Bowen Basin, and you can meet them and personally tell them. I will take you into the public bar of the Black Nugget Hotel, but I am not going to wait with you. I would be frightened I might get a clip on the ear because they have mistaken me for some big hefty Labor fella. I will take you in there and you can tell the front bar at the Black Nugget Hotel that you are going to do everything within your power to take their jobs away.
You people know nothing about the bush, you and the Greens, and I am tired of it. I am going to get louder and stronger and I am going to speak as frequently as I can to continue to expose you to the Australian community. They rely upon this government to support them and provide them with the infrastructure and the support they need to underpin the wealth that you enjoy in this nation. Now you have distracted me. Leave me alone for a minute.
We now have $75 billion committed to infrastructure outside the cities of this country. This is going to build an environment where these people can get on with the job. These are people who do not get out of bed when you get out of bed. These are people who get out of bed in the dark and come home in the dark, and they do it seven days a week. I said here recently in a speech that all they do is kneel down and pray for rain. All they pray for is rain and an eighth day. They need an eighth day to do the washing and to get themselves started so they can start their seven-day week again.
I am tired of the resistance that comes from the opposition and the Greens, and particularly the Greens. You can feel good, because I feel less about them. They are one pink feather from being a flock of galahs, that mob. All of you together resist the legislation that comes through this place time and time again. You resist, in a bloc, legislation that would benefit these great people of the west of our country, who underpin the great wealth that you, your families and your communities enjoy. If they were not there, you would not have anything to eat or anything to wear or a floor to walk on. You would not have a tin roof to keep the rain off your heads. So I intend to keep your feet to the flames and expose you for your resistance to country Australia.