The Hon. Andrew Abstention, Minister for Energy, Mining and the Environment.
Thank you for that kind introduction, Mr Speaker…I’m sorry, I mean Madam moderator.
Mr. Speaker. I am afraid that I do not quite understand the honourable gentleman’s argument.
Do away with economic growth? That makes no sense. How can you have an economy that doesn’t grow. We have to have economic growth or,…or….well I hate to think Mr Speaker… I mean Madam Moderator.
Mr speaker, I ask you, what sort of person would suggest such a thing. I’ll tell you Mr Speaker, Ill tell you. One of those hippy people who live in yurts and eat vegetables. Yurts Mr Speaker, yurts.
Oh, they may call themselves fancy names like ecoli……. ecoli…gists, but at the end of the day Mr Speaker. At the end of the day, they are cranks, cranks who are obviously promoting some strange religious cult. They are like those pinko greenies Mr speaker, pinko greenies with a religious belief that is not only irrational, but more importantly, is un-Australian as well.
This is because economic growth defines who we are Mr. Speaker. We are a pioneering people. A people who had the vision and energy to impose our will on a hostile and empty continent. Er…a mostly empty continent.
Just imagine what this country would be like if it had never had economic growth. Where would the money come from to manage our national parks and fix the Murray and all the other things that these greenies jump up and down about. I ask you Mr. Speaker, where would the money come from to care for the environment if there was no economic growth.
Mr Speaker, I am a country member…… (interjection “Yes, we remember”).
……And as such, Mr. Speaker, I know a bit about sustainability. I understand that in this day and age, sustainability is an important issue. I also believe that the best way to achieve sustainability is through innovation and economies of scale. These are the means by which we can achieve sustainable growth. In rural Australia this means more investment in agribusiness and larger farming enterprises that employ new technologies and industrial methods of production.
Of course, we must also take care of the environment; and I would remind the honourable…audience, Mr. Speaker, of some of the very significant environmental policy developments that this government has instigated.
Only last year regulation was introduced to require recreational boat owners on inland waters to install crumb filters and grease traps on their galley sinks.
This intervention was necessary as a matter of urgency because it is clear that despite the many hundreds of tonnes of fertiliser washed into the river, the dead cattle, hundreds of tonnes of bird shit, and thousands of tonnes of rotting carp, killed by high salinity levels; the sandwich crumbs and mayonnaise smears from picnic lunches could well provide a tipping point for the ecoli- logical state of the whole river system. Mr. Speaker, this government takes environmental issues very seriously indeed.
So seriously, that we are preparing to gazette several new national parks on marginal crown grazing leases. This will be a significant environmental policy achievement. It will also facilitate access to some very rich shale oil reserves. This initiative provides a very good example of sustainable growth.
But the people opposite, Mr Speaker, the people opposite, would never give this government credit for such a triumph. No, Mr. Speaker, these Jeremiahs would have us lock up such valuable resources forever; forever Mr Speaker.
What sad, negative, pessimistic whingers they are Mr Speaker. They would have us just give up on the whole notion of human progress. They would subjugate us to the laws of nature. The Laws of nature Mr. Speaker. They have no faith in our intelligence, our wisdom or our inventiveness. Humanity has always found technological solution to its problems and always will.
Take for example, the Burnside Village Red Gum. Mr. Speaker, as we all know the Burnside Village badly needed to expand its shopping mall in order to cater for the desperate need for more boutiques and gift shops in the area.
To do this the developers needed to solve a problem. How could they extend the mall with a huge great tree in the middle of it? The Greenies wouldn’t let them cut it down; I have no idea why, the bloody thing is 80 yrs old.
So the poor developers had to find a solution. This is where the can-do spirit of real Australians puts those whingers to shame. The boffins got to work and created an artificial ecoli…ecoli…G for it. They put in special lights and mist sprays with all the nutrients that anyone could want. The last time I had lunch with the managing director he informed me the tree was going gang busters, just like the boutiques.
These people Mr Speaker, are the very same ones who would tell you that we should close down the coal industry; close down the coal industry, just because some faceless, back room boffins think that the climate might change and we will end up bathing in tea cups and selling our children to buy the groceries. What nonsense Mr Speaker. These scientist chappies can’t even agree amongst themselves. The scientists can’t-even- agree- amongst- themselves. At least 3 % of scientists disagree. Three % Mr Speaker, and those 3%, those 3%, should know something about burning coal, because they and the coal industry are………er…. because they are the real experts Mr Speaker. At the end of the day, they are the real experts.
Mr Speaker, I ask you, what would the world be like without economic growth? I’ll tell you what it would be like. It would be a world which is much poorer than it is now. Unemployment would rise dramatically and business profits would shrink; which would be a disaster Mr Speaker. An unimaginable disaster.
Mr Speaker, The corpor…….er..the working families; the working families that I represent expect me to do everything I can to maximise prof, er economic opportunities, for them and their children. That is why they voted for me. How can I disappoint their expectations of ever more… stuff, on the flimsy pretext of what these people over there call an ecoli..an …ecoli- logical cat….an ecoli-logical-cats-trophy.
Mr Speaker, these people are out of touch with reality. They have no understanding of political reality.
Mr Speaker I grew up in the 1950’s and sixties- a very different time than now. A time when we didn’t have many of the things we have today.
We were much poorer then. We couldn’t afford flat televisions or smart phones, or even slightly clever ones; we couldn’t even afford a computer when I was a boy. Not even a computer, Mr Speaker. We couldn’t sit in our rooms all day chatting to our face tube friends.
No, we had to make do with riding our bicycles and building tree houses and damming the creek for fun. But tell that to the kids of today.
Mr speaker, when I married……er.. my wife, I vowed, I vowed that I would do whatever it took to make sure that my children would never be as depraved as we were. I vowed I would make sure my children would get what they needed, no matter what the cost, no matter what the cost Mr Speaker. If my children needed it, I would find a way to buy it, even if it cost the Earth.
Mr Speaker, when I think about the future that these people opposite are proposing, it truly terrifies me. They are painting a picture of such bleak, hopeless misery that I daren’t even contemplate it. They envisage a world we can scarcely imagine; a desolate, unnaturally silent world.
A ravaged landscape, a barren wasteland. An apocalyptic nightmare of such destruction, such economic destruction that we are forced to live like,… like our grandparents, our grandparents Mr Speaker. A miserable, pointless existence of frugality and constrained material ambitions, where we are obliged to grow vegetables and keep chickens and…. catch buses.
No Mr Speaker, it is clear to me that such a future, for the sake of this ecoli…ecoli thingy would be just too costly to even consider.