Matters of Public Importance - Human Rights

I rise to speak on the matter of public importance that has been put forward by the Australian Greens party here today. It's their second matter in a row, and it feeds into their propaganda and, as usual, ignores all the facts. But there are bonus points for them today, because not only do they get to stand up and virtue signal on an issue, as they often do, but they have also managed to do a two in one. Today they're going to virtue signal on Adani and on their contrived conception of free speech. They might even get a third one in there if they can manufacture some accusations of police brutality. Shame on the Greens for using this chamber as a vehicle to perpetuate falsehoods.

The latest Adani protest in North Queensland isn't remotely a breach of press freedom, nor is it a return to the days of protests being banned in Queensland. If anything, the Queensland police protected the crowd and ensured that they had a voice and that they could protest safely, despite the fact that they were engaged in dangerous behaviours. These protestors have got a history of doing things which are dangerous. Last month, two of them glued themselves to a crossing on Queen Street in inner-city Brisbane. It is a pretty busy road; police had to stop traffic for hours until the protestors were removed. Who would have thought that inconveniencing pedestrians and commuters was the way to win hearts and minds?

Later last month, another one glued himself—in a canoe, no less—to the Victoria Bridge, a bridge that links inner-city Brisbane to the other business area of South Bank, which gets 11,000 cars a day passing through it. And yesterday the anti-Adani squad showed they're not just reckless but also that they have run out of glue. I couldn't quite believe it when I heard that anti-Adani protesters had locked themselves together and had sat on the rail line leading into the Abbot Point coal terminal. I had to find out if it was true, so I went to the statement put out by the police. It said:

The Queensland Police Service … arrested seven people following protest activity at a port facility near Bowen this morning.

Just after 6am, police responded to reports up to 40 protesters were impeding road and rail access to the Abbot Point Road facility.

Now, I'm reading this and thinking, 'Well, it's just another day in paradise for' The statement went on:

A 28-year-old Victorian man and four male French nationals aged 29, 30, 32 and 39 were charged with one count of trespassing on a railway.

Two Victorian women, aged 20 and 22, were charged with one count each of trespassing on a railway, obstruct railway and contravene a police direction.

The four French people filming the protest, including a person by the name of Clement, were released on bail on the condition that they didn't go within 20 kilometres of Adani's Carmichael mine.

Of course, none of this would have played out as well if the matter of public importance that had been submitted by the Greens today read a little bit more truthfully, along the lines of 'the actions of the Queensland police, in doing their jobs and arresting people and foreign nationals with a video camera, saved people who were trespassing on a railway and potentially going to die if they were left in the way of the train drivers, who were unlikely to see them in time'. I could go on. Are we really surprised that the Greens are turning a blind eye to the issues at hand? This isn't even remotely about press freedom. As far as I know, Mr Clement didn't even have his footage confiscated. So what is important? Jobs are important. So is upholding the letter of the law, and that means not laying false accusations against Queensland police for doing their job and keeping people safe.

It's also important to let people go about their business. In Brisbane yesterday, just around the corner from the federal member for Brisbane's office, the anti-Adani protesters blocked a concrete plant's gate and prevented that business's concrete trucks and other vehicles from exiting and entering their own private property. Their plan was to stop trucks from entering or leaving the site until they were arrested. So they willingly broke the law, as their brethren up north had done, and yes, they were arrested after a two-hour stand-off with police.

What earned Meales Concrete Pumping this honour? It was because the company had been contracted to work on the Abbot Point coal terminal. Somehow, in the minds of Greens senators, that gives protesters the licence to ignore whatever laws they please, to stop a business from operating, forcing contract workers to lose valuable income and inconveniencing other businesses who are waiting for concrete to pour for slabs for houses and commercial building and so on. It's hard to imagine that you can sink much lower than these protesters, who forced police to have to ask them to let trucks out because they were needed to get to a nursing home to complete urgent work. There is no level to which they won't stoop. The group later put out a statement saying they had been pressuring Meales Concrete Pumping for weeks to drop their contact with Adani. So it wasn't just a few hours of media stunt or inconveniencing them for a day—it was bullying them out of their livelihood for weeks. And if they had succeeded they would have ended the livelihoods of every single one of their workers. What a shameful display of behaviour! And these protesters call on other Australians to target other Adani contractors and disrupt their operations, too.

So shame on the Greens for endorsing these protesters who think they can take the law into their own hands and take away people's jobs and livelihoods. Shame on the Queensland Premier, too, for her silence on the issue. For weeks the CBD and mining towns have been laid siege to by these extreme climate activists. There hasn't been so much as a raised eyebrow from Premier Palaszczuk. Good on Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington, though, and all of the LNP team, for pushing a bill that will see the book thrown at these people, who conspire to deliberately sabotage legitimate businesses like Meales Concrete Pumping.

It is a trend from the hard left to believe that their extreme views are more important than the rights of ordinary Australians to run a business or to live in their home safely. Indeed, it is the increasingly militant actions of animal activists, their invasion of private property in the name of animal rights, their theft and damage to property, that has forced the coalition government to draft legislation to stop extreme animal activists from misusing digital technology to incite other activists to invade private property, trespass and cause disruption and distress to the adults and children working on farms. The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 introduces new offences for the incitement of trespass, property damage or theft on agricultural land, punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

The coalition will continue to support Australian farmers, their businesses and, importantly, their families, just as we will continue to defend the right of Australians to work in industrial and mining jobs if they wish to, whether that's on a mine itself, in manufacturing or, indeed, driving a concrete truck. It's a shame that the legislation is needed at all. You'd think these activists would have as much compassion for people as they do for animals. But it just isn't so.

Luckily, Australians are much too switched on to buy this nonsense. For as long as the Greens stand in the way of people's right to earn a living, the coalition will stand up for their right to get to work, to earn a wage, to start a business, to run their farm, to provide for their families, and to do it free from harassment from this antiprogress mob.