My question without notice is to the Prime Minister's representative, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz. I refer the senator to the fact that Australian parents do not have the right under our national laws to seek nonconsensual rehab or involuntary medical treatment should their children become hooked to highly addictive and dangerous drugs like ice. I also refer the senator to the fact that children as young as eight are using and are addicted to the drug ice. Will the Abbott government work with myself, Senator Xenophon and other crossbench senators to create historic national legislation which will give Australian parents the right to involuntarily detox and begin to rehabilitate their children if medical professionals agree that those children are addicted to ice or other similar harmful drugs?
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania—Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:53): I think we are all agreed in this place that the scourge of ice and other drug-taking is a matter that is destroying lives, not only for the individuals that are taking these illegal and highly inappropriate substances but also for their families and their communities, and indeed it undermines society at large. The honourable senator can be assured that we as a government would seek to work with anybody that has ideas to put forward to overcome this as an issue but also for individuals. We can discuss numbers all we like, but each one of those numbers is an individual person with an individual very, very sorry tale to tell and then a family around that person as well. Indeed, the honourable senator is only too painfully aware of that herself, with her recent media commentary on how this matter has affected her own family. The suggestion put forward by the honourable senator will of course be considered by government. What I would say to her is that, any approach should be evidence based and should have some professional input. I must say that I for one—and please do not take this as government policy—am attracted to the suggestion of the honourable senator, because asking for consensual agreement from people who are so, if I can use the colloquialism, out of their mind as to be unable to give proper, informed consent really does lead us in the dilemma we are in as a community. (Time expired)
Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:55): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the senator to the fact that sophisticated dangerous groups of organised criminals nationwide and with international connections are manufacturing highly addictive drugs like ice and are making billions of dollars of profit in peddling those drugs to our children. Will the Abbott government work with myself and other crossbench senators to create historic national laws which target organised criminal gangs? Senator ABETZ (Tasmania—Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:56): If there is one thing that can be accepted across the chamber is that we as a government seek to be a government of zero tolerance when it comes to drugs and when it comes to the criminality involved in that hideous industry which is seeking to make money on the destruction of other people's lives. If there is a legislative remedy that can be achieved to assist us in that fight, of course the government will be all ears, willing to listen to any proposal that might help us fight this scourge. But of course —and I am sure the honourable senator would agree—it is not only legislation; albeit it is a very important part of the armoury. We also have to look at who else might be protecting these insidious elements in our society. (Time expired)
Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:57): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer the senator to advice I received from a highly respected military intelligence expert who reports that the total cost to the Australian government of dropping one laser guided bomb on a terrorist in Syria is up to $5 million. Can the senator detail for this chamber the number of ice rehab and detox beds for our addicted children the Australian government could provide for up to $5 million?
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania—Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:57): Regrettably, two excellent previous questions have been undone by an attempt at a cheap political shot by the honourable senator. The attempt to link the two issues I think does the senator no credit at all. What I would say is that any support that can be given to the victims of illegal drugs of course should be provided. Similarly, Australia has a responsibility to defeat the evil death cult which is destroying lives by beheading people—
Senator Lambie: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Library research shows Australia in one year has conducted 119 airstrikes and dropped 447 bombs on Iraq.
The PRESIDENT: Senator Lambie, I need to understand what your point of order is.
Senator Lambie: I just wanted to know how much it costs to kill one terrorist. How much does it cost our RAAF to kill a Middle Eastern terrorist? Could I please put that request in, and please get back to me with that figure. That would be great.
The PRESIDENT: I will take that as a point of order on relevance. I think the minister has been relevant to your question. The minister has concluded his answer.
For reasons which will become obvious as my speech tonight unfolds, the information I am about to disclose to the Australian Senate would never have been spoken about by members of either the Liberal-National or Labor parties. Australia has a very complicated relationship with China and, to quote the ancient Chinese curse, we 'live in interesting times'. On 31 August this year, the same day when three major Australian industry groups launched a campaign to generate public support for the China free trade deal and when finance minister Mathias Cormann was reported in the Australian Financial Review as saying:
'People in Western Australia, perhaps more so than other parts of Australia, very well understand the importance of the trade relationship with China'
other media reported, under the headline 'China ready to launch military power from artificial islands in South China Sea':
By 2017, military analysts expect China will have equipped its new sand islands with ports, barracks, battlements, artillery, air strips and long-range radar systems that will enable it to project military and paramilitary power into the furthest and most hotly-contested reaches of the South China Sea. Those facilities would give China the ability to obstruct other claimant countries and potentially disrupt sea lanes that carry more than three-fifths of Australia's merchandise trade, according to military analysts.
In the same article our defence minister, Kevin Andrews, is reported to have strongly supported US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter's comments in May 2015 when he:
… demanded a 'lasting halt to land reclamation' and commissioned plans to conduct 'fly throughs' and 'sail throughs' within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands.
The media article which reports on our defence minister's support for the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, continues:
China has won the first round of its contest for control in the South China Sea by completing construction of an archipelago of artificial islands, say senior Australian sources. And there is little that will stop China from winning the next round, too, as an indecisive US Administration and allies including Australia struggle to follow through on earlier promises to challenge unlawful Chinese claims with 'freedom of navigation' exercises, the sources say.
So, on 31 May this year, we had two media articles describing the reaction of two different Abbott cabinet ministers to China's relationship with Australia. Firstly, we have a finance minister who urges the Australian people to embrace a deal with China which, first, has the potential with investor-state dispute settlement or ISDS clauses and associated legal opportunities for our government to be sued by Chinese companies and, second, has provisions that allow the importation of Chinese workers to seriously compromise our nation's security and sovereignty. Secondly, we have a Defence minister who essentially urges the Australian people to be wary and on guard against a China whose unlawful international actions in international waters in the South China Sea have already compromised our national security and sovereignty.
On the very important subject of China taking actions which have compromised our national security and sovereignty, I have not even mentioned in my arguments so far other acts that China has carried out in recent times which have threatened Australia or Australia's allies' security and sovereignty. Most notable was the surprise visit of a flotilla of three Chinese warships in February 2014 on a military exercise that included combat simulations which sailed past territorial waters and Christmas Island. The media report of the incident said:
Never before has a Chinese naval drill come so close to Australia.
This month's exercise took the theory a good step closer to reality, bringing China's bold ambitions virtually to Australia's doorstep. In doing so, it has crystallised the challenge facing our military planners in preparing for a very different world.
On the subject of China's military might, I think of their recent parade. While our military planners are preparing for a very different world because of the rapid increase in Chinese military might and the willingness of the Chinese government to use that might, it appears that the Liberal and National Party leaders and members of this parliament, with their calls to rush into a free trade agreement with China and unreasonable abuse of those who urge caution, have not prepared for a very different world.
The important point I would like to make about a free trade agreement with China compared, for example, with FTAs listed on Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, including those with India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States, is that those countries have democratically elected governments who have not used their military to threaten Australia's security and sovereignty.
China does not have a democratically elected government. Under communist rule, it has a long and spectacular history of human rights abuses. It has an equally long history of uninvited, aggressive military acts towards its neighbours, including our very own Australia. Australia is not investing in hundreds of billions of dollars in state-of-the-art fighter jets and submarines because our defence planners see a future military threat from our current free trade partners—those being India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
Let's at least be honest. We owe it to future generations of Australians. Australia's purchase of hundreds of billions of dollars of sophisticated military hardware—the F35 fighter jets and submarines—is because of the very real military threat the Chinese communist government poses to our nation and our allies. This is a simple statement of fact and not, as the Liberals and Nationals would have you believe, a xenophobic rant.
While I acknowledge that China is our major trading partner at the moment, I still make the point that Australia has a very complicated relationship with China. That relationship becomes even more complicated when you consider the extraordinary investment that most of Australia's major political parties have allowed the Chinese communist government to make in a coalmine on the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales. I visited the proposed Chinese government owned Shenhua coalmine site on the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales recently.
The Chinese government would never allow the Australian government to establish a mine in the middle of their prime agricultural land. How that proposed Chinese government owned mine was ever given government approval to be established on some of the richest farming land in Australia defies rational explanation. The Liverpool Plains site and exploration licence for the Chinese government owned mine was first approved by the disgraced and officially corrupt New South Wales politician Ian Macdonald.
Ian Macdonald was found to be corrupt in 2013 by New South Wales's Independent Commission Against Corruption after he illegally approved a mining exploration licence for a different Hunter Valley company without reasonable cause or justification in 2007-08. Nonetheless, in 2008, to the surprise of all fair-minded people, the former Labor minister Ian Macdonald issued the mining exploration licence for the Chinese government owned mine against the advice of his own department.
Another extraordinary event happened with the Labor Party minister's granting of the mining exploration license. The Chinese government through its state owned company Shenhua paid a record Australian price of $300 million for an exploration licence. The Chinese government then also agreed to pay another whopping $200 million for a mining licence should it be issued. So we have a situation where the Chinese government's state owned company had, without turning a sod, committed a whopping $500 million to a coalmine in the middle of Australia's best farming land after a corrupt Labor politician gave them the official green light.
I have been reliably informed that, on the day Shenhua handed over the $300 million cheque to the New South Wales government, former Independent member of federal parliament Tony Windsor was in the New South Wales state parliament and met representatives of Shenhua and asked them how were they going to handle the significant underground water issues at the site of their mine. Their response was unusual. Shenhua argued that it did not matter as the mine was in the Hunter Valley. Tony Windsor explained to them that this was incorrect and that they were west of the Great Dividing Range. They were visibly confused.
Fortunately for the Chinese government owned coal mine, the then energy minister, Liberal Chris Hartcher, changed the definition of 'flood plain' for the Shenhua project without any consultation or official process. Chris Hartcher was accused by the New South Wales corruption watchdog in 2013 of being the mastermind of a political slush fund. He resigned from cabinet in December 2013 after the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the ICAC, raided his office on the state's Central Coast. However, the Chinese government owned mine in the middle of our prime agricultural land continued to forge ahead at the proposed site despite the fact that its overburden and part of the eastern pit are on a flood plain as defined by the Water Management Act. But the new definition put in place by Liberal politicians says they are no longer on a flood plain.
Leader of Nationals, Andrew Stoner, via email two weeks after his party, along with the Liberals, won the election in 2011, requested the Minister for Planning to expedite the Chinese government coalmine despite claiming during the election that they would protect prime agricultural land. The initial New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission review made 25 recommendations to alter the Shenhua mine plan. The official Shenhua mine response argued against 19 of the recommendations and the government's official determination of the Planning Assessment Commission agreed with Shenhua mine.
Again, kindly, the New South Wales government appointed board also removed each of the recommendations that Shenhua did not like and had argued against. The official New South Wales government conditions outlined extra land to be bought due to noise and dust impacts, and it would cost Shenhua mine approximately $300 million to comply. The Chinese government owned company then argued it would be politically sensitive for a foreign company to own such large tracts of prime agricultural land, and then—surprise, surprise—the Liberal government appointed mining review body removed this condition and saved the Chinese government owned mining company $300 million.
At the start of the process, Shenhua mine told the Liverpool Plains community in consultation meetings that they would undertake a valley-wide groundwater model to validate the mine and to make sure it would not impact on groundwater. Dr Jurgen Schaeffer was used as a consultant and underground expert to do this task. Shenhua mine to date have not presented a valley-wide groundwater model and deny they were ever going to do one. This denial is unusual because one of Dr Schaeffer's main tasks was to present a valley-wide groundwater model.
Shenhua mine terminated Dr Schaeffer's contract three years after starting his work on underground water impacts. The Liverpool Plains community wonder what Dr Schaeffer told the Chinese government owned company. Did he say something about the groundwater on the Liverpool Plains that they did not want to hear? Key Liberal and Labor politicians who enabled and helped the establishment of the Shenhua coalmine are not the only ones who have been caught up in corruption. The ABC reports that a number of directors of the Shenhua mine company have been investigated for corruption in China.
A former vice-president of Shenhua in China is being investigated by judicial authorities and several others in that country have been accused of acting corruptly. A report Shenhua prepared for the Chinese government in May showed that at least three other executives had been accused of acting corruptly: a former vice chief executive is accused of pocketing large sums of money after allegedly colluding with unscrupulous businessmen; a former chairman of the subsidiary, Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group, is alleged to have received bribes from contractors, including a donation for a family temple; and a chief engineer of safety at Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group was investigated for allegedly extorting money from contractors on a coal-fire extinguishing project. Chinese court documents also show that six managers from Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group's subsidiaries have been given jail sentences of between five and 13 years for accepting bribes.
Despite this incredible story of corruption on corruption with those key officials associated with this mine and with community outrage over this Chinese government owned mine, the federal government last month granted conditional approval to Shenhua for an open-cut coalmine near prime agricultural land in New South Wales. This is not a mine site; it is a crime site—an officially sanctioned government approved crime site with the assistance of the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party. I want to know how this outrage and injustice happened on our finest farming land, prime agricultural land, the total of which only occupies 3.4 per cent of Australia's land mass. The establishment of a Chinese government owned coalmine on the Liverpool Plains is an extraordinary and unprecedented act which defies rational explanation.
It is so extraordinary that there needs to be an inquiry and questions must be asked in order to try to explain why a Chinese government owned coalmine ended up in the middle of our best food and fibre growing land the Liverpool Plains. I asked my office to conduct research on the amount of influence the Chinese government has on Australia's political parties. My office studied the official figures on the Australian Electoral Commission website and found that there were two Chinese gentlemen with links to the Chinese Communist government who had donated significant funds to all political parties involved in the amazing and strange approval processes of the Shenhua coalmine.
Dr Chau Chak Wing—also known as Zhou Zerong—is a Chinese-Australian billionaire property developer who owns: one, Kingold Group, one of the first foreign invested enterprises approved by the Chinese government; two, the HK Kingson Investment; and, three, Chun Yip Trading. Dr Chau invested in 2013-14 a total of $1,355,000 in the following political parties: the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia, including their New South Wales branches. Dr Chau in 2007-08, the year the Shenhua mine was approved in New South Wales by corrupt Labor minister Macdonald, invested $761,000 under Hong Kong Kingson Investment in the Liberal, Labor and National Parties of Australia, including the New South Wales divisions.
Dr Chau in 2007-08 made a further donation of $399,962 under Chun Yip Trading in the Liberal and National Parties of Australia. Dr Chau in 2007-08 made another $200,000 under Tech Dragon Holding Limited to the Liberal Party of New South Wales. In media reports, former Prime Minister Mr Howard said he understood that Dr Chau had a 'very successful rags-to-riches story' and that he had himself attended 'a couple of functions' for the billionaire in China. Asked about Dr Chau's political connections in China, he replied simply: 'He's clearly very well connected.' I say that in Australia he is also clearly very well connected. Another political source said Dr Chau had become an important conduit for Australians looking for connections in China, and particularly southern China, at both a political and a corporate level.
Another person living in China who presumably has connections with the Chinese government is Zi Chun Wang. He was the highest donor to the Labor Party in 2013-14, with two donations totalling $850,000. Media reports say Mr Zi potentially operates under another name, is China based and is linked to Ever Bright Group. Most Australians would be shocked to learn of the size of the donations to our major political parties by people who have links—most likely strong links—to the Chinese communist government. The question must be asked and answered, especially in light of the approval of the Shenhua mine, a Chinese government state owned mine:
what political influence does this money—$3.5 million—buy?
In future speeches I will further detail the money given to the New South Wales Nationals, Liberal and Labor parties by people with links to Chinese government, while a dodgy Chinese coalmine was given approval on our best prime agricultural farming land.
I made a controversial speech in Parliament yestereday in regards to the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2015 Budget Measures) Bill 2015.
Read it at the link: http://bit.ly/1NeCc4m
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:
- Securing more funds ($200M) for a run down Tasmanian Freight Equalization Scheme
- 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.
- 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)
- 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:
- 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.
- Tasmanian women dying almost 2 years before mainlanders (82.6 compared with Australian average 84.3) …
- And our men are dying more than a year before other Australians (7 compared with the Australian average is 79.9)
- 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:
- 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?
- 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.
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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”
“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.
There are many more polices I am developing and working on.
They are formed around the principles of:
- Food and water security
- Energy security
- National Security
- Australian Job Security
Here are some core policies:
- The Jacqui Lambie Network Members must always put their state first in all decisions they make.
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- JLN supports conscience votes on all moral & ethical issues. (Gay Marriage, Euthanasia)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
Today is the 49th Vietnam Veterans Day, and next year will mark the 50th anniversary. I take this opportunity to remember and honour the 521 Australians who died fighting in that war.
Because of Senate duties, I could not attend the official ceremonies in Canberra today, so earlier this morning I went to that beautiful Vietnam veterans memorial in Canberra and laid some flowers and reflected on their and their families' sacrifices.
I was lucky enough to catch up with a few veterans who were out early this morning, and I acknowledge the strong feelings that are stirred up on this day.
I thank the families and friends of those 521 Australian Defence Force members for enduring their terrible loss so we can live free and enjoy the democratic rights and privileges we often take for granted.
Of course, unfortunately, the deaths of our Vietnam soldiers, airmen and sailors did not stop in Vietnam. Too many of the more than 60,000 members of the Australian Defence Force who survived their time overseas in Vietnam lost their lives back home in Australia and continue to lose their lives because of the physical and mental damage they experienced during their service and in their transition into civilian life.
Read more at the link: Adjournment Vietnam Vets shipbuilding illicit drugs
I rise to speak to the matter of public importance. As a royal commissioner leading an inquiry examining union governance and corruption, it is clear that Mr Heydon has displayed a form of bias in accepting an invitation to become a keynote speaker at a Liberal Party function.
A royal commissioner cannot decide his own impartiality or perception of bias. You do not need a law degree to work that out; you just need to use some common sense.
For heaven's sake—we have a situation where the Australian people know how a royal commissioner will vote at the next election. The royal commissioner has personally admitted that he was the main act at an important Liberal Party event.
What next? Will Commissioner Heydon suspend royal commission hearings so that he can hand out Liberal how-to-vote cards at the Canning by-election?
Read more at the link: MPI Royal Commission into Trade Union
I rise to once again contribute to a debate on the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 . Like many speakers I note that a form of this legislation was presented to and voted down by this parliament before.
A Parliamentary Library brief on this new version of the legislation says:
The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 (the current Bill) is virtually identical to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 (the previous Bill) with the Government amendments, which were agreed to in the House of Representatives.
The previous Bill was negatived in the Senate on 2 March 2015. That Bill in turn was similar to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2013 together with Government amendments which were tabled (the original Bill).
I also note that the Parliamentary Library brief says:
If the current Bill is passed by the House of Representatives and rejected by the Senate, it could constitute grounds for dissolution of both houses and a general election.
I rise to briefly contribute to the debate on the matter of public importance. It is clear that Mr Abbott is one of the worst prime ministers Australia has ever had.
His leadership has failed on many issues, including same-sex marriage. Mr Abbott lacks the ability to unite and inspire ordinary Australians.
If he were a leader who was sensitive to the needs and wishes of the Australian people, he would have supported my call and other crossbench senators' calls to hold a separate vote on same-sex marriage at the next election.
Let the people decide what our definition of marriage is, and let's get into talking about the out-of-control youth unemployment rates; organised criminals making big dollars selling ice to our kids; our pensioners struggling to pay their heating bills; our public hospitals, which are full, and Australians needlessly dying on record health waiting lists; homeless, desperate and suicidal veterans; and threats to prime agricultural land and hardworking farmers.
Read more at the link: MPI Marriage Equality
I rise to contribute to the debate on the Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business Measures No. 3) Bill 2015, and also indicate that I will support this legislation without any reservations.
This legislation will benefit all small businesses of Tasmania and other states, and therefore will increase the job security of their employees.
It will also increase the profitability and prosperity of those businesses and will increase the likelihood that they will be able to grow, and employ more workers, and that can only be a good thing for Tasmania's and Australia's economy.
I will briefly outline the purpose of this legislation as summarised in the Bills Digest, and then I will use this opportunity to outline a policy which will also guarantee the profitability and prosperity of Tasmanian businesses.
This bill amends the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to provide a five per cent tax offset capped at $1,000 per income year to individuals who run small businesses with an aggregate annual turnover of less than $2 million or who have a share of a small business income included in their assessable income, and it enables small businesses and individuals to immediately deduct certain costs incurred when starting up a business.
Amendments to the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986 extend the fringe benefits tax exemption that applies to employers who provide employees with work related portable electronic devices.
Read more at the link: Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business Measures No.3)
Medical Research Future Fund Bill 2015; Medical Research Future Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2015
I rise very briefly to give in-principle support for the Medical Research Future Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2015.
However, I have some reservations and would like the minister to clarify a few matters before I record my vote.
I acknowledge that the Medical Research Future Fund provides for initial funding of $1 billion from the uncommitted balance of the Health and Hospitals Fund and for the MRFF to be managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians.
I acknowledge that researchers from Tasmania's Menzies Institute for Medical Research also support this legislation.
Read more at the link: Medical Research Future Fund Bill