Thursday, 21 November 2013 09:48
Hansard 20 November 2013
North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Another Act Amendment Bill
Dr FLEGG (Moggill—LNP) (12.22 am): I rise to speak to the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Another Act Amendment Bill. At the outset, I declare an interest on Stradbroke Island. In fact, I have substantial property holdings on Stradbroke Island and I happen to love the place. I have been going there for 30 years. Some of my closest friends have spent their entire life there and have gone to primary school at Dunwich State School. I have had the privilege to join with local families at their family events. This is a terrific island and a terrific community, but listening to what I have heard from the other side I really wonder whether some of these speakers have ever been there, because it does not appear that they have.
With regard to the matters raised by the Premier, there was an overwhelming vote by the community on Stradbroke Island in support of Mark Robinson and the continuation of sandmining on that island. It was unequivocal. It was not muddied by some other issue. They voted to save the economy of their island and their jobs. Similarly, even in seats that traditionally have a high green vote like Mount Coot-tha, Ashgrove, Indooroopilly or Moggill, people voted for the LNP on a clear platform of saving jobs and the industry over there.
In looking at some of the claims that have been made, we hear all the time that the environmental ecolodge will sustain the economy. It is bunkum. It is absolute rubbish. Go down and have a look at what is left of Tasmania, because all the people who promised if there was no pulp mill, no dam, no forestry they would have this enormous tourism industry have died and withered on the vine, and people leave the state in droves.
The tourist industry, which I have been involved in heavily on Stradbroke Island, is a seasonal industry. It does not have jobs all year round. In fact, outside of Christmas and Easter it does not even have jobs midweek on Stradbroke Island. It is characterised by very low pay and part-time work. It has always been so. In many cases those industries on Stradbroke Island are marginal. I know of at least one case in the hospitality industry where the owner recently turned the key to the front door, got on the bus, hopped on the ferry and never came back because in a place that is so isolated they are difficult industries to survive in.
I have previously spent a bit of time on Moreton Island and on a number of other places. Let me tell you: without the mining that takes place on Stradbroke Island, every aspect of the infrastructure would suffer. Social infrastructure, child-care facilities, health facilities, a medical centre—
Ms Trad: Rubbish.
Dr FLEGG: I hear the member for South Brisbane saying ‘rubbish’. Go to towns like Moranbah up north. Because the miners do not live in the town, they tell you that the town will die. It has been plastered over our current affairs and television.
Ms Trad interjected.
Mr Berry interjected.
Ms Bates interjected.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Miss Barton): Order! Members! The member for Moggill has the call.
Dr FLEGG: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Even infrastructure such as roads. What put the roads in place that support the tourism industry we have on Stradbroke Island? Mining did. That is why Moreton Island does not have any roads. We are not talking about a mainland community. What about retail? If you want to go to a cafe or buy a loaf of bread that is baked fresh, it is the economy that puts those things in place. It is the same if you want some entertainment or to go to a bowls club or any of those sorts of things that Stradbroke Island enjoys.
One thing that is overwhelming—and one of my colleagues to the right raised it—is this is an island that is desperately dependent on ferry transport and the ferry transport is dependent on mining.
When you come to the off-season with the overheads of a ferry, if you do not have the mining business and the materials that have to go back and forward and the associated building, construction, road maintenance and everything else that goes on with that island, you do not have business there.
The member for South Brisbane would like to think of herself as some sort of champion of people who are on social security, who are poor or who are retired. There are a lot of those people. They will be paying $200 to go to Cleveland to buy a basket of groceries because there is absolutely no question about the reliance of the ferry service on the economic base of the island—
Ms Trad interjected.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for South Brisbane, I asked you earlier in the debate to not have conversations across the chamber. I am perfectly capable of making directions from the chair if I choose to do so. I do not need you to make orders across the chamber to other members. The member for Moggill has the call.
Dr FLEGG: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I feel very strongly about this issue. The lifeblood of Stradbroke Island is that ferry service. It will be cripplingly expensive and it will lose services. If you want to see what will happen, have a look at some of the problems that have confronted other Moreton Bay islands that do not have that economic activity. They are serious problems.
I do understand the connection of the Indigenous people to Stradbroke Island. In my time in this place I have been privileged to be housing minister and to be the shadow minister for Indigenous affairs. I have been to places like Palm Island, where Indigenous communities struggle with massive social problems—almost insoluble social problems—because they do not have an economic base.
Believe it or not, I sat and listened on the closed circuit television system in this House to the public hearings conducted by the committee. I heard an Indigenous person from North Stradbroke Island opposing mining but then admitting that both he and several of his relatives had worked in the mine. Where on earth do people come from that they cannot learn the lessons of places like Cape York as to what happens to the social fabric of Indigenous communities if they do not have an economic base and regular full-time jobs for people to perform?
Mr Rickuss: Labor will stick them on welfare.
Dr FLEGG: Welfare would probably become the biggest industry on North Stradbroke Island if those full-time jobs were taken away. The casual and seasonal workforce needed for tourism does not exist on North Stradbroke Island. It is too expensive for them to pay $200 to come across on a barge, which is what it would cost. What does happen there is that full-time jobs in the mine are filled by people who have families. So the spouse of the person working in the mine can be the local hairdresser or work in the local bakery—all the things that they cannot get people to do in Moranbah because they do not have that sort of community. Having full-time, decent paying jobs with decent housing that allows for other family members to assist with part-time or seasonal work is a very important part of the fabric of that island. Frequently, the spouse of somebody working for the mine will be the teacher aide in the school—that is if the school manages to stay open if there is no economic base for the island.
Honourable members do not have to look very far to see what would be lost on Stradbroke if we listened to the bizarre voodoo social policy and social economics of those opposite. This is not a wilderness like Fraser Island or Moreton Island or parts of Cape York; this is a place with thousands of people living there. I do not know of anywhere in Australia where the industry is shut down. Have a look at what happened in Maryborough and in other places where the industry has been taken away.
Labor just has not learnt a thing. Here we have a small community that has made its will crystal clear—there is absolutely no doubt, not muddied by anything—and yet Labor was happy to stamp on their neck and rub their face in the dirt. That community does not matter when Labor thinks there are some green preferences. It will sacrifice a small community because it thinks it has some political gain. I say that is rubbish.
Thursday, 21 November 2013 09:43
Hansard 20 November 2013
Palmer, Mr C
Dr FLEGG (Moggill—LNP) (2.29 pm): The federal member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, has repeated publicly on a number of occasions, including yesterday, that I made a mental health diagnosis with regard to the Premier and that I went to the Premier in company with the member for Gaven. The member for Fairfax has suggested that this had something to do with my decision to resign from cabinet. I want to record categorically that none of this is true. I take very seriously my professional—and I can see the relief on the Premier’s face! I want to record categorically that none of this is true. I take very seriously my professional responsibility as a doctor. To inject discussion of somebody’s mental health into a political debate would, in my view, be highly unprofessional. Perhaps more importantly, I take very seriously the thousands of Queenslanders who live every day with a mental health issue. I am distressed that a concocted mental health diagnosis should be used for political mud-slinging.
A generation ago the term ‘spastic’ was used in the playground by children as a derisive term. It was not used in relation to the victims of cerebral palsy but was simply an insult to others. I had hoped that since those days we had grown up in relation to this area, particularly of disability and more particularly of mental health.
I have never made such a suggestion. I have never discussed—formally, informally or socially—any matters in relation to the mental health of any member here. What is more, I have not had a discussion with Mr Palmer about the Premier or, in fact, any other matter. I was approached by a third party and offered a meeting with Mr Palmer in relation to membership of his party. I did not accept that invitation. I have been a Liberal and now Liberal National Party member since 1975 and that is how I will be staying. Thousands of Queenslanders and their families who have to live with mental health issues deal gallantly with those issues daily—getting themselves to work, dealing with their families—and many of them face considerable challenges to do so. They do not need the stigmatisation of a mental health diagnosis in this way for political purposes.
I would say to Mr Palmer and others who may be tempted: do not use mental health as an insult or political mud-slinging and most certainly do not try to justify that by verballing me as a medical practitioner. There are numerous critical issues facing us as a community not the least of which is helping genuine victims of mental health problems and the impending tsunami of diabetes complications. Forget the slanging match and keep the discussions in our parliaments to the important matters that are affecting Queenslanders.
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