CWA National Conference Speech

Thank you for your warm welcome and the opportunity to speak for the first time here at the Country Women’s Associations National at beautiful Port Macquarie

I thank your organisers, and national President Noela MacLeod for the invitation to speak with you…

… and I acknowledge the wonderful work that you continue to do for Australia’s country women.

Before I continue, I’d also I acknowledge the traditional owners, past and present of the land on which we meet….

… And the members of our defence force (Army, Navy and RAAF) who over the decades have paid the terrible blood price – so that all Australians may live free.

Just like you I’m an average Australian.

I’m a single mim of two boys. I’ve served my country as a Digger in our Army for 10 years and was medically discharged after I was injured training for war.

I’m probably the only person in the room who has fired an M60 machine gun and have a license to drive a tank..

And trust me if there one lesson I’ve learnt in politics so far – an M60 a tank would be useful in Canberra on some days… Actually all days…

Like you I’ve had my tough times. I’ve been sick down and out - and had to rely on a pension to pay the bills.

I understand that most Australians want a hand up and an opportunity to work hard, not a hand out.

I understand that sometimes you need someone to believe in you.

And that having someone who’ll just listen and stand by you, is the difference between wining that second chance at life or failing.

Since my election as a Senator for Tasmania I’ve been on a steep learning curve …

Yes, I’ve made a couple of mistakes on this high-pressure roller coaster ride….

When I did that light-hearted radio interview with Heart FM at the beginning of my career  .…

I didn’t ever think my office would be taking phones from the BBC asking to speak with the Australian Senator who has a preference for…

Gentlemen who don’t speak that much, have lots of cash and big packages …

(And lets face it ladies, you know what I mean..)

But thanks to you and other Tasmanians who’ve looked past the sensational media headlines .. and given me a fair go and good advise …

… I’ve been able to use my vote in federal parliament to get a much better deal for Tasmania.

While I always feel that I could have done more … I have played important roles in:

  1. Securing more funds ($200M) for a run down Tasmanian Freight Equalization Scheme
  1. Reforming an unfair Mainland Renewable Energy scheme – which had forgotten the fact that Tasmania basically runs on renewable energy (we don’t pollute the environment when we turn on the power switch) … and had threatened to close down our big manufacturing industries and wipe out the direct and indirect jobs of 10,000 Tasmanian workers.
  1. Forced the Federal Government to return our Diggers’ holidays and entitlements and increased their pay offer by $50M each year for the next 4 years. (There’s still more work to do on this issue)
  1. Stopped the Federal Government from ambushing our students, parents and universities with a surprise and harmful policy change which will dramatically increase the cost of higher education – and the level of debt that our young people will have to carry.

On this issue, I believe that Australia should follow the Nordic countries example and deliver free first university degrees to our young people who want to go to uni.

And when I’m asked – where are you going to get the money for that – I simply remind them that over the last 6 years we’ve sent between $30 to $36B over seas in foreign aid - $3.6B to Indonesia a country with a defense force which has 10 times the number of our members - …

And over the next 4 years Australia has plans to give $16 to $20B away in foreign aid.

Some have criticized me for questioning the amount of Foreign Aid we give each year ($4B to $5B ) and how its spend -  but when my latest research on our Tasmanian Health System shows:

  1. The proportion of Australian patients experiencing extended waits for life saving surgery ranged from a low of 2.9 per cent in New South Wales to a high of 35.5 per cent in Tasmania.
  1. Tasmanian women dying almost 2 years before mainlanders (82.6 compared with Australian average 84.3) …
  2. And our men are dying more than a year before other Australians (7 compared with the Australian average is 79.9)
  3. Total Commonwealth Funds spent over the last 6 years on reducing Australian public patients elective surgery waiting lists is $1.4B compared with $36B for the foreign aid budget …

You will then understand why I always repeat the saying that my mother and grandmother told me – Charity begins at home!

Another favorite saying I have – especially when I’m in Canberra – is what in this for Tasmania - don’t take Tasmania for granted!

Which brings me to this important question:

  1. When politicians vote, do they put their state and your best interests first - or do they put their political party and the people who donate money to them first?
  1. Does being part of a mainstream political party mean you take your state for granted?

And as I said in Parliament and in my newsletter:

To get back on our feet, Australia –

… when compared with the rest of the world, must have the cheapest energy, fuel, travel, freight, internet connections and zero payroll taxes for our business and families.

Because if state and federal governments don’t achieve that goal and deliver some of the cheapest energy, freight, IT and government taxes in the world to Australian businesses –

… there is only one out-come in a globalized world, where every one is competing against each other for price…

The people who make it – mine it – grow it and show it…

… the Primary wealth creators who bring new money into our state… for every one else to recycle… will go broke!

The Manufacturers, Miners, Farmers and Tourism Operators …  won’t be able to compete against their counter parts in countries that pay their workers a dollar a day …

… and don’t care whether those workers go home each day in one piece to their families.

Ice problem

Some people were surprised when I raised the issue of Ice addiction and shared my families experience with this wicked drug in Parliament.

Over all the feed-back has been caring and very supporting - and I’ve had the privilege of many ordinary Australians from all over this great country sharing with me their tragic and terrible stories.

However not all the feed back was kind. And I expected that criticism because not every one (thank God) will know what its like to have a child hooked on a drug that takes over their body and mind.

But some Journalists went out of their way to write hurtful comments - that I was a bad mother and had crossed a line.

One journalist Maranda Devine wrote that I’d thrown my son under a bus, by talking about his addiction to Ice.

However what those journalists didn’t report was that I’ve raised this issue in parliament from the beginning.

I’ve questioned the federal government about their national approach to this rapidly growing Ice crisis from the early days of my Senate service… but the media just didn’t want to report those questions.

They didn’t seem to get interested until I shared the story about my youngest son’s addiction to Ice.

For example on Thursday 30 October 2014 at 2.26pm I tried to table a photograph in the Senate - that showed me standing in front of the Hobart chapter of the Rebel’s Motocycle gang headquarters - but the government denied me permission.

The photo showed a Tasmanian schoolyard that the outlaw motorcycle gang headquarters overlooked  - with the club's insignia on proud display - featuring the one per cent symbol, which indicates that they brazenly participate in criminal activities, including drug dealing.

I asked the Prime Ministers representative in the senate – Senator Abetz 3 questions:

  1. Can the minister explain why he and other members of his Government have allowed a gang of drug dealers to set up headquarters opposite a Tasmanian primary school?
  1. Does the minister agree that he must take some responsibility for the harm and deaths caused by terrible drugs like ice because he is a member of a political party that has turned a blind eye to this law and order crisis and allowed outlaw motorcycle gangs to prosper in my Tasmania?
  1. So will the minister join with me and help to introduce laws into this place which will give the parents of children—those 18 and under—who become hooked on highly addictive drugs like ice the legal right to involuntarily detox their children of this dreadful drug?

Of course he tap danced – and did his best not to answer my questions and said things like (and I quote from Hansard)

“That is the clear responsibility of the state government and, in this case, the Hobart City Council. So I would respectfully request and suggest to the honourable senator that she should make those representations not to Canberra but to the state parliament in Hobart and to the new Lord Mayor of Hobart”

and:

“I am not sure that it is necessarily going to be successful if you try to get somebody off drugs involuntarily. You have got to convince the person first that they have got a problem from which they need to be released.”

I could quote you a lot of statistics which show how bad this Ice Crisis has become in Australia  – and will become..

… but my main message is that all of us, politicians – journalists – have to rethink and change our attitudes to this drug because it is different to any other drug we have ever seen in the history of human history.

There is no room for experimentation with this Ice – one hit will hook.

And very quickly you will find you are talking to an evil drug - which makes your son or daughter angry 24 / 7 - and a danger to themselves and those near them.

There is no choice – Australia must introduce asap involuntary detox or non-consensual drug treatment for our children at the very least.

And all governments must work closely together and provide properly resourced and staffed detox facilities – if we are to save generations from this misery.

You’ll be happy to know that the Tasmanian state police have since raided the Rebels HQ and taken their club signs down…

… but of course no media or state or federal government members have ever admitted that my questions in parliament helped prompt that action.

To some I will always be the mother who threw her son under the bus in the senate – or the annoying independent who’s not qualified to be in the Senate…

Which doesn’t worry me. Some one has to speak out and talk common sense in that bloody Parliament, because the lives of our sons and daughters – and grand children depend on it.

I’m now receiving reports of children as young as 8 using Ice – this is a National crisis, which will only be solved by tough love, plenty of medical care and a Nation wide crack down on organised Criminals who make, sell, profit from and poison our children with this dangerous substance.

Veterans’ Health Gold Cards

The men and women of Australia’s military - who have pledged undying loyalty to Australia, trained for war, followed politicians’ orders, bled, sacrificed and protected our world famous ANZAC legend – for decades, have been lied to, betrayed and abandoned by all political parties.

Our Defence force numbers at approximately 58,000 FTE (just over half the crowd for a foot ball grand final at the MCG) and military reserves, resources and equipment - have been run down to the point where Australia’s national security and ability to protect our sovereign interests for future generations is seriously compromised.

The high rate of serving Digger and Veteran psychological harm has been negligently caused because Australian politicians and senior military over time, agreed to international military commitments while in the knowledge that too few ADF members would be asked to share too much of the overseas combat and peacekeeping duties.

Put simply – our relatively small number of Diggers, over the last 15 years were asked by Australian politicians and military leaders to spend to long on the front line – despite those commanders knowing that our Diggers were guaranteed to suffer at the very least - extremely high rates of psychological injuries.

I have had drafted legislation which allows the automatic grant of a Health Gold Card to all Australian veterans who have served in war-like or war-zones.

The Health Gold Card allows our veterans free of charge - to quickly access the best medical treatment that Australian can offer. Currently the long, complicated, expensive and deliberately exhausting fight to access a Health Gold Card, forced on our Veterans by all parties – is killing them.

The automatic grant of a Health Gold Card to our ADF members how have served in peace keeping, war like and war zones will immediately help lessen the suicde rate in our ex service people.

Middle East (Iraq) Military Deployment

I do not support the current deployment of troops to the Middle East and I call on the Australian government to immediately withdraw them.

America with only 3000 troops stationed in Iraq, has deployed a token military force and is not serious about overcoming Islamic State.

When America and the rest of the world get serious about properly neutralizing the threat of Islamic State, that’s when Australia should consider the deployment of military forces.

In the meantime all efforts to support Kurdish fighters and people in the Middle East, including the supply of weapons and humanitarian assistance should be carried out.

The Kurdis fighters to-date are the only effective ground forces in the struggle against Islamic State – and that Kurdish and Australian culture shares a similar love of democratic institutions, basic civil freedoms, human and women’s rights.

I condemn Turkey’s attacks on PKK military assets and personnel who are engaged in the fight against ISIS.

I will fight for the men and women of our ARMY, Navy and RAAF in parliament – just as hard as those women and men have fought and continue to fight for their mates, family and Australia in international war zones and peacekeeping operations.

Protect Prime Agricultural Land

Last weekend I visited the Liverpool Pains and meet with the Farmers and Community Members who are affected by the crazy and mad decision to allow a Chinese Government Coal mine to be placed right in the middle of our best Prime Agricultural land.

There is no doubt that that mine will damage the under ground water which flows underneath that soil which is so rich you feel like you could eat it when you pick it up in your hands and smell it.

I’m not against mining. Mining is an important industry which creates jobs, wealth and national prosperity, but this is the wrong mine in the wrong place.

Australia only has 3.4% of Prime Ag land – and we need to protect it wherever it is. No development, no mines just Farmers and farm communities growing the food and fiber that the world and we needs to survive.

As much as it was tempting on the Liverpool plains – you can’t eat the dirt and you certainly can’t eat the coal. I am going to do every thing in my power to stop this Chinese Government coal mine from going ahead.

It is extraordinary that this site was chosen – and some serous questions need to be asked in parliament. And I’m going to make sure that they are asked and those who allowed this national disgrace to happen be held to account.

CPL Cameron Baird VC MG

I want to share some thoughts and reflections about a famous Tasmanian CPL Cameron Baird VC MG who after he was killed fighting the Taliban, received the Victoria Cross.

As you may already know, Cameron was born in the same town I have my office - Burnie, Tasmania in 1981.

He joined the Army in January 2000, was posted to the then 4th Commando Battalion and now 2nd Commando Regiment – and while serving in Afghanistan was killed in action on the 22nd of June 2014.

Cpl Cameron Baird was the 40th Australian soldier who was killed in the War against Terrorism – and following his death was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour during his last intense Fire Fight with Taliban insurgents.

Earlier in his Military career as a commando Cameron was also awarded the Medial for Gallantry for his valour and bravery during a close range fire-fight in a Taliban strong hold on the 22nd and 23rd of November 2007.

A member of Cameron’s team was mortally wounded and Cameron – displaying complete disregard for his own safety - led other members of his team forward under heavy fire from machine guns and assault rifles to recover his wounded mate, back to a position of cover.

He then re-entered the Taliban compound and took the fight up to the enemy. His citation says that, he continually moved amongst his diggers co-ordinating their fire and throwing grenades to take out enemy machine gun positions.

Once the close quarter battle had been won, Lance Corporal Baird again led his team forward and began room-to room clearance, where he was again engaged by several enemy. He continued to lead the fight, killing several enemy and successfully completing the clearance.

His citation for the Medal for Gallantry continues to read;

“Through out the action, Lance Corporal Baird displayed conspicuous gallentry, composure and superior leadership under fire. He was personally responsible for killing several enemy combatants during the clearance, ensuring the momentum of the assault was maintained and undoubtedly preventing further members of his section from being casualties.”

Cameron’s father Doug told over 200 hundred of us recently on a Saturday evening that his son’s motto was Aspire to Inspire.

And there is no doubt that every one who met Cameron when he was alive – or grew to know him through descriptions of his military awards - or stories from his mates and family – were and are inspired.

Cameron – indeed every one who signs up to serve their country – and perhaps die for Australia have inspired me – and have given me the will and inspiration to do my bit to protect the democratic freedoms gifted to us by patriots like Cameron Baird and make our Australia a better place.

There are some people who live in Australia who question why we fight and why we have fought.

I’m not one of them. Because of my military service, I understand that freedom isn’t free. I know that someone has to pay the ultimate price to protect all our freedoms.

I know that the message on the back of the Cam’s Cause Singlet is an undisputable fact! it reads:

“People sleep peacefully in their beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those that would do us harm.”

The trouble today with our country is there’s a large spoilt, portion of our country who aren’t in touch with the basic realities of life – who have taken for granted our rights and culture of freedom Australians enjoy.

They don’t believe in good and evil.

There is a definition of war, which has influenced my thinking – it reads:

“War happens when one group of people, try to impose their culture on another group of people by force.”

And when you think hard about it, this definition of war is right. It also makes you appreciate our Australian culture – because culture is what every one is fighting about.

Of course I use the word culture in broad terms.

Culture describes the way we do business, run our government, set up our religious institutions, share political power, deliver justice, treat each other etc.

So its important that we understand what the Australian culture is – because ultimately its what we defend with our lives when we sign on the dotted line and take the oath of allegiance.

You only have to think about what would have happened in WW2 - if the Japanese had been successful in their attack on us – and what sort of cruel, barbaric, slave culture they would have created and imposed by force in Australia – to appreciate the truth of what I’m saying.

And that’s why it is so important to value our Australian culture - and proudly stand up for it - and defend it whenever it’s under attack from within or without.

JLN Policies

There are many more polices I am developing and working on.

They are formed around the principles of:

  1. Food and water security
  2. Energy security
  3. National Security
  4. Australian Job Security

Here are some core policies:

  1. The Jacqui Lambie Network Members must always put their state first in all decisions they make.
  1. JLN will always have a special interest in all matters associated with veterans, serving members of the Australian Defence force and their families. (Protect Diggers wages, Automatic Gold cards for vets who serve in warlike or war zones)
  1. JLN will fight to establish a National Apprentice, Trade and Traineeship system incorporating both the Australian Defence Force and TAFE’ (Bring Back a voluntary Military National service and double the size of our ADF 60K to 100Plus K by focusing on more Defence trades skills.)
  1. JLN supports the establishment of a Financial Transactions Tax to guarantee extra government revenue for the protection of pensions and entitlements of retired Australians and Defence Veterans.
  1. JLN supports dedicated indigenous seats being established for Australian Parliaments. (Other countries -NZ, Canada, America- have closed the gap by guaranteeing a minimum amount of political representation in Parliament. Over time this has caused the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people to close.)
  1. JLN supports conscience votes on all moral & ethical issues. (Gay Marriage, Euthanasia)
  1. JLN supports a halving of the Foreign Aid Budget in order to help boost federal government investment in Higher Education from .6% to 1% of GDP.
  1. JLN supports the creation of Special Economic Zones in regional and rural areas to help boost business profitability and job creation. (Payroll tax free zone for Tas)
  1. JLN opposes the introduction of a carbon tax – until after our major trading partners introduce a similar tax on their coal-fired power stations. ( Making our pensioners, farmers, manufactures and working families pay more for their power will not stop world climate change – iit will just make them go cold, hungry and broke and export Australian jobs over seas)
  1. JLN supports a monitoring and regulation system which ensures that our power and fuel prices for Australian consumers and businesses are not more expensive than our overseas competitors.

In closing I refer back to Tasmanian CPL Cameron Baird VC MG.

He didn’t care what the odds were. He just knew he had to put up a fight, go where the action was thickest - and do his best to protect his mates and what he held dear.

And that’s the principals I will follow for as long as you allow me the honour of serving in our parliament.

Thank you for your time and consideration – and God bless you, Australia, our Troops and our beautiful Southern Cross.