I rise this afternoon to add my comments to this debate on the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017. Firstly, to contribute to the comments made previously by Senator Siewert and Senator Waters, it is a disgrace how the government has handled this piece of legislation in this place. It is an absolute exploitation of the fundamental issue of land rights in this country, again, with Indigenous people simply being used and abused when it suits the government. We all know why there was a suspension of standing orders earlier today by the Leader of the Government in the Senate to try to bring on this bill and ram it through this house tonight. That, of course, is because the government are more interested in the rights of mining companies than they are in the rights of Indigenous people.
There are fundamental issues with the bill. We know we need to consider it in proper detail. Instead, all the government gives a damn about is giving a free pass to the mega coal company Adani. It is not even an Australian company. It is a dodgy, corrupt company based in India that is already under excessive investigation for corruption, money laundering, tax evasion—the list goes on. Why on earth are we seeing our parliament hijacked by a dodgy company like this, via the government of the day, just so that the company can get their project up off the ground? And let us not forget it is with the help of $1 billion of Australian taxpayers’ money, offered up at mates rates by the Turnbull government.
It is absolutely appalling to see our parliament hijacked by such a corrupt, dodgy coal company. It proves just how much this government really is in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. What on earth is Senator Canavan getting out of his continual advocacy in this place for the Adani project?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Whish-Wilson ): A point of order, Senator Canavan?
Senator Canavan: I usually let the imputations of a generic nature that regularly emanate from that corner of the chamber go without comment—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is debating the point. Address me.
Senator Canavan: But my point of order is that that is an imputation against a specific senator, and I ask that Senator Hanson-Young withdraw it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I will just take some advice on that, Senator Canavan. Senator Hanson-Young, it might help the Senate and the Chair if you withdraw that comment.
Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Mr Acting Deputy President, I will withdraw the comment. I still ask: what is the arrangement for the special mates rates deal that the government is giving this foreign company to not just exploit the land on which they want to run their project but put the entire challenge of our dealing with climate change at risk? One of the biggest problems with this project is that Australia will never be able to reach its weak targets, if the proposed amount of coal is dug out of the ground and burnt. If this project were to go ahead, we might as well say goodbye to climate action.
Why on earth does this company need a billion-dollar leg-up from the Australian taxpayer, if it is a good project anyway? It is because no-one else will bankroll them. The executives at Adani are desperate to get the final approvals done by the federal government. Of course, the Queensland state Labor government have done their bit to help this company every step of the way, and now we have, rushing through this parliament, the desperation of this company. Every time the minister stands up he says nothing about Australians; it is all about the big overseas company Adani. It is as if he is more the minister for Adani than he is the minister for Queenslanders or, indeed, Australians at large.
You have to question what on earth is really going on, because this government and particular ministers are so obsessed in relation to this project and with helping out this dodgy, corrupt company, who are going to burn our planet to a crisp if they are able to get this amount of coal out of the ground. We know that the coalition and, in particular, the National Party are absolutely in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. They do not give two hoots about tackling climate change. They do not really give a damn about the limited amount of jobs that this company is going to create. We know that it is not as many as they claim, because in court they were found to have been lying.
That is not what they are obsessed about, because it does not make any sense. It is, of course, that this government and members of the government are absolutely in the pocket of the big fossil fuel corporations. These big fossil fuel companies, whether it be Adani, BP or Chevron, think they run this place. They think that they have every right to get bills voted on when they want to get their projects ticked off in their time frame—and they are happy to take the government handouts and leg-ups whenever they can as well. Tax rorts, handouts, cheap loans, mates rates—it goes on and on. The fossil fuel companies, those big multinational corporations, love to think they run this place. When are we going to start talking about the people’s rights and land rights, not mining rights? When are we going to have that conversation in this place?
While I am at it, when we talk about those in the pocket of Adani, those doing everything they can to hand out a billion-dollar mates rates loan to this big company at the expense of funding schools or medical facilities in Queensland, you have to wonder what is going on inside the Labor Party as well. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth on this issue, and they absolutely know it. You have the Queensland government selling out their own people, and you have the federal Labor Party not knowing what to do. They are absolutely split on this issue. When is the Labor Party going to start standing up for proper action on climate change and staring down these climate criminals in these multinational companies? When are they going to have the guts to do that? Even just earlier today, we saw the Labor Party in this place not being able to sign off on a decent report about the risk of BP drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight. We had a South Australian senator from the Labor Party cross the floor and sign off on a report with the Liberals to protect the interests of Chevron. You might wonder why on earth the Labor Party would get themselves into such a mess that you have one senator saying that Chevron and BP should have the right to drill for oil and the others—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Whish-Wilson ): Is there a point of order, Senator Williams?
Senator Williams: Mr Acting Deputy President, what happens in committees in privacy should be kept private. Is that a position you would consider?
Senator HANSON-YOUNG: It is tabled.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I was listening very carefully, Senator Williams. My reading of it was that Senator Hanson-Young, in respect of the signing of a committee document, was talking in a proverbial sense. I do not think she said it in a literal sense.
Senator HANSON-YOUNG: How interesting that people in this place are so tetchy about what really goes on behind the scenes. But it is not behind the scenes, because we have a South Australian Labor senator signing on to the report with two Liberal senators to say that it is A-OK to drill for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight—cuddling up to the fossil fuel industry all over again. Isn’t it interesting that Chevron, the big multinational company that wants to drill for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight, donated money to the South Australian Labor Party within days of the hearing into that particular issue by the Senate committee? Isn’t that interesting! People listening to this debate could obviously draw their own conclusions about why that particular South Australian senator had to sign on to a report that supported Chevron being able to drill for oil, but I think it is appalling. I think it is absolutely sickening to see the level of influence and corruption from the fossil fuel industry in this country creeping into every nook and cranny of how this Senate operates, from dictating when we debate bills, what time we will debate bills, to now dictating who will sign on to reports or not. This fossil fuel industry cannot continue to dominate what goes on in here.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McAllister, I think I know what the point of order will be, but please make it.
Senator McAllister: I make the point that Senator Hanson-Young has cast a very serious aspersion on the motivations of one of our colleagues here in the Senate. I think it is contrary to the standing orders, and I ask you to ask her to retract it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I would agree with that. Please withdraw that comment, Senator Hanson-Young.
Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I will withdraw that. I simply point out that Chevron donated money to the South Australian Labor Party within a day of the hearing where South Australian senators sat in a hearing on an issue of the Great Australian Bight and allowing Chevron to drill for oil or not. It is extraordinary that, at a time when we should be cleaning up politics in this country, we see the government bending over backwards to help Adani, and we see the Labor Party incapable of getting their act together to stare down the crooks in the fossil fuel industry—the climate criminals who are going to fry this planet.
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