MPI – Positive agenda in the national interest

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Mr PITT (Hinkler): I rise to start with an admission: I will admit that the member for Grayndler actually got up my nose. It’s pretty rare in this place that something will actually annoy me to this point, but it tends to be what the Labor Party has done, particularly in the last election. It’s this announcement, this class separation, this attack that we on this side of the parliament don’t represent working people, that we have a born-to-rule mentality. I can tell you that I’m an electrician. My brothers are harvesting contractors. They are teachers. One has had an epiphany and gone back to university. My father was a timber cutter. Those on that side stand there and say we don’t represent working people. We are working people! I can tell you that the people of Queensland in particular are on to you, because in my electorate, at the last election, your primary vote dropped to 22 per cent, so your class warfare tactics quite simply did not work.

I know that the values they espouse are not the ones that they believe in. The people of Australia agree. It is why they didn’t vote for them at the last election. The Labor Party had their opportunity. They took their agenda to the people, as we did. They were defeated. The question that the member for Grayndler comes up with all the time is: which side are you on? Well, you’re on the opposition side and have been for three terms. There is a reason for that; you are not putting forward an agenda that people agree with. We have had an election. There has been an outcome. The people have agreed with the agenda we have put forward. So I say to you on the opposite side: stop the class warfare. It does you no good. In fact, it is alienating the people who had voted for you for decades. All of those individuals who go to work in their steel-capped boots and hi-vis shirts who used to vote for you now vote for us. It is quite straightforward.

We hear from the opposition constantly about Bob Hawke. They keep bringing up the issue of Bob. I admit Bob was a very popular Prime Minister. One of the things that were spoken about the former Prime Minister Bob Hawke was something that was raised once again by the member for Grayndler: that the former Prime Minister had said to him, ‘Don’t be afraid of risk.’ And yet we continue to see those on the opposite side continuing with their attacks on working-class people, their attacks on class systems. It is absolutely wrong.

In terms of what we are doing as a government, we are delivering and we continue to deliver. In fact, we delivered trade agreements with China, with South Korea and with Japan. All of those have meant an increase in what we do in regional areas in particular. For my electorate, what that has meant is we are now the biggest producer of macadamia nuts in this country. Why? It is because the majority of those are exported to markets where we have an advantage under these trade agreements. That was negotiated and delivered by this government. We continue to negotiate on things like IA-CEPA, on the TPP Agreement, which was successful, and on the EU agreement. If we want to build opportunities for people in this country, they need jobs, and those jobs come from trade. We are a trading nation. The more trade we have, the more jobs we have. We must continue to expand our opportunities for our economy, and that is what we as a government are doing. We are absolutely doing it.

I congratulate Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His announcement last week of a select committee to look at regional development—at what those opportunities are in the future for regional Australia—is a very smart move. It will allow us to deliver a platform which I think we can take to the next election, because we need to grow opportunities in regional Australia. We should stop having people like those opposite talk down the Australian economy. That is what you continue to do in all of your attacks on the Australian economy. It is about confidence. Anyone who has been in business knows—as you know, Deputy Speaker Hogan—that business is about confidence. So I’d say to those opposite again: stop talking down the Australian economy and give every Australian business the opportunity to expand, to grow and to employ more people—and in particular those Australians who live in regional areas, because they absolutely deserve that opportunity.

All of us in this place know that we have an issue with population shift. We need individuals in regional Australia who are highly skilled, who are qualified, who can do the work that we need. We don’t need them all to silo to the cities. So we need to adjust and look at those opportunities. But we know, through the contribution of the member for Kingsford Smith, when he spoke about power—well, once again, I’ll make it really clear: that’s a state responsibility. In Queensland the price is set entirely by the Queensland government, not by anyone else. They own nearly all of it. They own the generators or 70 per cent of them; they own the transmission. They set the price. There is nothing you can do from this building to change that. That is the outcome. And I say again: stop your attacks. Class warfare does not work for you.

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