Speech – Townsville Launch “North Australia and then some” – John Roskam

by 18 December 2012

Good evening and what a pleasure it is to be introduced by Senator Macdonald, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia and Secretary for the Defence Force and Defence Support.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence this evening of Mrs Rosemary Menkens MP, the Member for Burdekin, and Mr John Hathaway MP, the Member for Townsville.

It is an honour to be in Townsville to launch Northern Australia and then some by Mrs Gina Rinehart.

The Institute of Public Affairs is proud to work with Mrs Gina Rinehart and with Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision. Together we are committed to a better future for northern Australia and for the entire country. It is a pleasure to work with the passionate members of the ANDEV executive, including with Imants Kins and Jan Ford. The members of the ANDEV executive all serve without pay, and they all serve because of their commitment to the nation.

Tonight’s launch of Northern Australia and then some in north Queensland follows the tremendous success of launches of the book around the country. Over 1000 people have attended booked out launches in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Port Hedland. This is a reflection of just how important and vital is the message contained in Mrs Rinehart’s book.

These series of launches of Northern Australia and then some of course coincide with the 60th anniversary of a flight which changed the course of Australian history. On 22 November, 1952 Mr Lang Hancock was with his wife Hope, in his Auster when he first saw the iron ore deposits of the Pilbara.

In her book Mrs Rinehart recalls the amazing history of her father’s discovery flight, and the risks he took “to land his tiny Auster in the Spinifex many times.”

Mrs Rinehart also takes the opportunity to outline her father’s vision “to see the Pilbara developed in a way that would benefit his beloved north and west
Australia, he wanted to see Australia become a stronger economy, benefiting from the development of our north. His life was spent pursuing that vision.”

Australia is fortunate to have someone like Mrs Rinehart who has the vision for ideas such as a Special Economic Zone for the north to drive economic and social development. By reducing the heavy tax and regulatory burdens of government we can help unleash the north.

ANDEV has created the Voice of the North program. There are now over 350 Voices of the north with the numbers growing daily. The Voices represent a network of like-minded Australians facing the realities of life across the north who want to unleash its potential. The Voices don’t want special consideration. They just want a fair go and they don’t want to be dictated to by politicians in Canberra half a continent away.

As one reads Northern Australia and then some one is struck by the foresight of Mrs Rinehart. For example in a speech Mrs Rinehart made back in 2007 (before the Global Financial Crisis!) she warned that high costs could drive major mining companies away from Australia. “Indeed, mining companies are voting with their feet and pursuing giant mining projects in Africa and elsewhere – projects that will compete with Australia’s and often in lower cost regimes. We must change our attitudes to the mining industry and broaden our perspectives.” Sadly her warnings have now been borne out. Mrs Rinehart was the first to see the emerging risks to Australia – and if only we had listened.

Another example of Mrs Rinehart’s foresight comes from her acceptance speech after winning the Telstra Western Australian Business Women’s Award in 2010. In her speech Mrs Rinehart highlighted the major difficulties that were then facing the mining industry, including “high wages and high taxes, plus increasing government-related expenses and risk to approvals, permissions and licences.” How right she was when she warned, “We are approaching a crossroads.”

But if you listen to what Mrs Rinehart says and you have a look in her book, you’ll see she’s not just talking about opportunities for Australians, she’s talking about opportunities for everyone in our region.

When Mrs Rinehart talks about the potential to create a food bowl in the north, she’s talking about creating wealth for Australia but she is also talking about
feeding the poor of our region, in countries where there is not enough food. Or where there is insufficient land for growing crops.

It’s the same when Mrs Rinehart talks about bringing badly needed foreign workers to Australia. She is not only talking about the benefits foreign workers can provide in stimulating economic growth domestically, she also wants to provide opportunities for people who are not as lucky as we are.

In this Mrs Rinehart provides a wonderful role model for Australian women. Mrs Rinehart is a great Australian! I have a seven year-old daughter, and when I think about the qualities I would like her to have I look to someone like Mrs Rinehart.
Mrs Rinehart has given it a go, she’s taken risks, and she’s succeeded. We should be so proud to have such a successful person as an Australian. Mrs Rinehart’s success sends such a clear message to young girls of what can be achieved if you have a go and if you work hard.

But think about the role models the media presents and lauds. A political leader who resorts to nasty, personal attacks against her opponents and plays the gender card and class warfare card at every opportunity?

When I sit down with my daughter, what sort of role model should I suggest she aspire to be? Someone who’s engaged in the personal attacks we have seen this year in politics? Or someone who has taken risks, created wealth and succeeded through hard work? Someone who has courage and conviction and wants what is best for our country?

Through the IPA’s work with ANDEV we have had the opportunity to travel across the north and have held public meetings in Mount Isa, Longreach, Bowen, Derby, Port Hedland, Kununurra, Broome, Darwin, Weipa, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Mackay and Barcaldine. And also here in Townsville. Travelling across the north and speaking to people the huge divide that exists with the south is so apparent, not just in the conditions but also in the attitude. Sadly the ‘can do’ attitude of the north is slowly starting to go missing in the south.

The people in the north are producing Australia’s wealth through the resources industry and producing the food that we eat. The people in the south – for the most part – don’t understand the hardship and difficulties faced in the north.
Nor do they see its potential. Instead Canberra imposes unfair regulations and policies on the north.

The north’s potential is enormous and something that can benefit the lives of all Australians.

Mrs Rinehart’s vision in bringing together a group of volunteers to run ANDEV was to “aim for policies to invigorate our sparsely populated north, with people, investment and business being made welcome; to become an essential contributor and engine for growth, revenue and opportunities.”

The message of Northern Australia and then some is a message every Australian needs to hear.

It is my pleasure and honour to launch Northern Australia and then some in north Queensland.

Thank-you.

 

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