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KAP Leader Bob Katter will next week welcome a delegation of North Qld graziers to Canberra to amplify the ongoing efforts to rescue Australia’s northern cattle industry from escalating crisis.
The Federal Member for Kennedy will escort the delegates – from the steering committee of the recent Cattle Crisis Summit he initiated in the sprawling electorate’s grazier heartland – to meet with the Indonesian Ambassador as part of a bid to restore international relations and resurrect the vital live export trade.
It follows on from last week’s discussions in Canberra between Mr Katter and the Ambassador, the latest in a series of meetings between the pair in the two years since the Australian Government’s precipitous and ill-conceived live export ban dealt northern Australia’s cattle industry a grievous blow.
“Two years ago, I asked whether all those crying about the welfare of cattle bred for beef would shed the same tears for our nearest neighbours’ hungriest people, who have been deprived of essential protein; or for the Australians also reliant on this northern lifeblood industry, whose lives have been destroyed,” said Mr Katter.
“History is full of misguided do-gooders and extremists such as animal welfare groups – but the tragic irony of their stance is that it will probably contribute to the slow death-by-starvation for many thousands of cattle that have been left stranded by a decimated live export market, extreme weather, government ineptitude and the rabid greenies, who would prefer to see former cattle properties locked up as exclusive ‘conservation’ havens for burgeoning feral animal populations than to allow our emaciated cattle a temporary return to graze.”
But where there was life there was hope, said Mr Katter in pointing out a series of small but significant steps towards addressing the immediate northern cattle crisis and wider rural debt crisis gripping Australia.
“After we first brought to the nation’s attention the looming rural debt catastrophe in late 2011, when hundreds of North Qld graziers rallied to try and rescue a station at risk over questionable lending practices, we secured the Rural Debt Round Table in 2012 to give the Federal Treasurer first-hand accounts of the coalface issues and solutions,” he said.
“A year of relentless lobbying then led to the Treasurer’s announcement this year of the $420m Farm Finance Package including concessional-rate loans (and we remain optimistic that the State Government will dig into their pockets to contribute to this initiative), as well as another $100m in the Federal Budget of further assistance for drought-affected farmers.
“We have also brought the Qld Government onside with our Cattle Crisis Summit resolution to allow drought-stricken cattle access to grazing in former cattle stations-cum-conservation estates – and we’re again optimistic this will be expedited.
“But much, much more still needs to be done. We’ve got only 10 per cent of what we need to see this industry thrive again. We need State and Territory governments to match the commitments of their Federal counterpart; and we need to address long-term fundamentals – which include bringing down the value of the Australian dollar.
“We also need Australian politicians to vote for legislation we have begun drafting to establish an ‘Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank’ that can reconstruct debilitating financial arrangements in agriculture and provide low-interest, long term funds for the further development of our agricultural industries and infrastructures.
“A fair go is all we are asking for – it’s not too much to ask. And I must thank the myriad men and women who have rallied across Australia in recent months to ensure this issue of national concern is being heard in our capital cities and in Canberra.”
The Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter is calling on the Queensland government to fund the RACQ North Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service, the only rescue helicopter base in Queensland not to receive Government funding.
“With the withdrawal of Legend funding, it’s critical for NQ Helicopter Rescue Service to get funding to operate seven days a week.
“So far they have raised all the money for operations themselves, $1.3 million a year, and they are only seeking $200,000 to fully fund this service seven days a week,” Mr Katter said.
The RACQ NQ Helicopter Rescue Service had already saved 44 lives in the first 17 months of operation, with an average of one call out per week.
Mr Katter said when the Helicopter Rescue Service received approval to be an accredited operation in the Emergency Helicopter Network of Queensland, the previous Government had mandated that approval on the condition that they wouldn’t supply any state funding.
“That was the previous Labour Government, and that was in 2011.
“I’d like to think this Government would see the unfairness of not funding this extremely vital rescue service that has literally saved many lives in their short time of operation,” Mr Katter said.
The North Queensland operation had already proved they could fund themselves and a bit of help from the Government would ensure they could employ another pilot and cover the region full time.
KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter says the Qld Government
“would have been right at home in the days of the privateers” following yesterday’s revelations of a
secret deal to deliver a foreign-owned corporation sole rights to sell Australia’s $1.7b raw sugar pool.
“Our ALP-LNP governments almost seem to support monopolies,” said Mr Katter following news reports on a
confidential signed agreement for marketer Qld Sugar Ltd to contract out its sugar supply to multinational
“Government has failed to make any declaration against this outrageous proposal for Wilmar to take control
of the single desk seller, which would give them total monopoly powers at the farm supply end and at the
international retail end.
“The fact that it could even be discussed meant that it had to have tacit government approval from the LNP
“The government would have been at home in the days of the privateers of old, since they seem to be happy
that the corporation is allowed to rape, pillage and enslave at will.”
Mr Katter said the secret deal behind growers’ backs “makes infinitely more imperative” initiatives such as
the Pentland project* with Mackay Sugar, “in order to put Australian farmers and co-operatives in a
powerful position in the international marketplace”.
Mr Katter said the fears of local farmers, that their economic interests would not be best served if foreign-owned millers operating in Australia also took control of their own marketing, had been demonstrated by
the recent defection of Atherton Tablelands canegrowers from supplying their local foreign-owned miller
Maryborough Sugar Factory (which sought to sell its sugar through its parent company rather than QSL) to
choosing to instead supply the Australian-owned rival Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association.
“We praise our Mareeba sugar leaders on their strong stance in this situation, and strongly urge other
growers around Queensland to take a leaf out of their book,” said Mr Katter.
*Footnote: The Pentland proposal, which recently won $2.5m in federal funding to develop a commercial
report, involves the proposed damming of Australia’s third-biggest river, the Burdekin west of Townsville, to
open up over 100,000ha of irrigable canefields that in turn fuel renewable electricity production and
produce ethanol, thereby ensuring the viability of agriculture, coal and mining in the Galilee Basin.
Katter’s Australian Party State leader Ray Hopper has lambasted a “spineless” LNP Government for its backflip over support for an ethanol-based fuel industry in Queensland.
Mr Hopper delivered a Private Members Bill to Parliament on Tuesday night, promoting the significant social, environmental and economic benefits of a mandate for an ethanol industry based on Queensland sugar.
Mr Hopper cited 2008 documents recording support for an ethanol industry by current LNP members Lawrence Springborg and Jack Dempsey, and called on them to get behind an industry which would create up to 20,000 jobs and turn Australia from an importer of ethanol to an exporter.
“I am astounded that not one of these Members now has the courage to re-commit to their for an industry which would be a tremendous asset for Queenslanders,” said Mr Hopper.
“Even worse, Treasurer Tim Nicholls has come out swinging against it, saying a mandate of 10% ethanol in fuel would be risky.
“What’s risky about supporting a Queensland industry, Queensland jobs, and cleaner air for our kids?
“Worldwide research for ethanol production, which is booming in the US, Brazil and Canada, undeniably gives Queensland the stamp of approval to be a world leader in ethanol production.
“What we’re missing here is leadership from spineless LNP Members who now say that what they told Queenslanders in Opposition is now not the truth when they are in Government,” said Mr Hopper.
The Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter today called on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to lift his ban on preventing thousands of starving North Queensland cattle to graze on the fringe of national parks.
“This is a cruel and ill-considered decision by a federal minister who, it seems would rather sit back and watch an animal welfare crisis unfold rather than doing something positive and within his power to help not only the cattle, but the graziers.
16 May 2013: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has warned Australians about “the commitment of the ALP-LNP corporations to looking after the billionaires of Australia by selling off our resource industries and jobs” after the major parties’ MPs joined forces today to vote down laws to protect Aussie jobs.
Mr Katter, who co-sponsored the Protecting Local Jobs (Regulating Enterprise Migration Agreements) Bill 2012* in a bid to stop the carte blanche importation of foreign fly-in-fly-out workers at the expense of plum mining jobs for Australians, was among just three crossbench MPs to vote in favour of the legislation today in the House of Representatives.
“It would be eternally shameful to be associated with the current government responsible not only for clearing the way for these foreign fly-in workers, but also for bringing in 300 per cent more section 457 visa workers - 125,000 last year alone - than the LNP,” said Mr Katter.
“In many mining towns like Mackay, Mount Isa and even my own hometown Cloncurry, it is becoming 'Spot the Australian' because they are all foreign fly-in workers… and if they’re working for Australian pay and conditions then I am a Martian astronaut.”
Mr Katter blamed both the major parties for overseeing governments during which Australia’s resources industries had been given away to foreigners – leaving the profits, the resources, and now the wages, to be sent offshore while Australia was left with little more than holes in the ground.
Additionally, claims by some billionaire miners that they could not find local workers to fill the jobs beggared belief when there were hundreds of thousands in the unemployment queues, added Mr Katter.
“The answer has been simple, ever since the Phoenicians invented money,” he said. “I went to work in Mt Isa because they paid extremely high wages – almost twice as I could get anywhere else as an unskilled labourer – and because we paid extremely low tax levels. So let our governments come to that.
“And they can start with our First Australian brothers of whom 10,000 in North Queensland are without jobs as I talk, and provide them with some training.
“This is simply about getting people to work for nothing in this country. They will undermine the wages of every single person in this country if we allow it to happen.
“Let whoever is the Government of Australia after September 14 be warned: Katter’s Australian Party will fight tenaciously against to bringing in people in from overseas to take our jobs and to undermine our wage structures.”