March 27, 2019
by Anne Miller
The Federal Government’s Drought Envoy Barnaby Joyce joined Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd on the pre-election campaign trail in the South Burnett on Tuesday.
Mr Joyce had a simple message for the LNP party faithful: “We’ve got to get Kenny (O’Dowd) across the line, if we don’t we’re in trouble!”
Proston-Boondooma LNP branch president Kathy Duff organised the get-together at Boondooma Homestead in the lead-up to the (most-likely) May 18 election.
It was open to everyone, not just LNP members, but it would have been a very brave Green or ALP supporter who showed up.
Guest speakers were Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd, who scraped in on postal votes at the 2016 Federal election, and Mr Joyce.
This time around Mr O’Dowd faces another tough test.
The Labor Party is again fielding Zac Beers, who almost downed Mr O’Dowd last time, and One Nation are fielding experienced and high-profile candidate Sharon Lohse.
“Kenny is the litmus test. We lose Kenny, we lose the election,” Mr Joyce told the circle of seated listeners.
“We have to play the game here or we’re gone.”
Topics covered included the necessity for the farming sector to “not only survive but thrive” and the much-discussed Bradfield Scheme to irrigate western Queensland.
Mr Joyce said the only thing that stood between getting water into the Thompson River – “which would have a huge effect on the wealth of Queensland” – was “ourselves and the Green movement”.
“We have to learn how to take them on and have the political zeal to push issues through,” he said.
He listed achievements which he said were a result of National Party actions:
- A quarter of a billion dollars in cash distributed to farming families through the Farm Household Allowance
- Nearly a billion dollars in concessional loans at 2.75 per cent
- The establishment of the Regional Investment Corporation
- The allocation of a million dollars per council for stimulus work
- The Roads To Recovery program which was allowing cash to flow through local economies as well as leaving a legacy of better facilities
- 25 per cent subsidy for water infrastructure for dams, pipes and troughs
- $20,000 instant asset write-off
- 100 per cent write-off for fences, water and silos
- Inland Rail project
- “Millions of kilometres” of dog fencing in western Queensland
- Free trade agreements
“These are all part of the National Party’s influence within the Coalition government, make no mistake about that,” Mr Joyce said.
“When we started with the White Paper, they gave us $30 million. By the time we finished, we had $4 billion.”
Mr Joyce said the worst thing that could be done to Queensland was to shut down the coal industry.
“I understand the concerns that people have, I really do,” he said.
“But if you want to see what poverty’s like, that would be a great way to find out.”
He said the Coalition wasn’t up against the Labor Party in the upcoming election, but a Green / Labor Party / Independent alliance.
Mr Joyce said Labor would have to have a working relationship with the Greens which meant policies that would “put us out of business”, such as the end of live sheep exports and the live cattle trade, changes to the road transport of livestock and “apparently cotton is immoral”.
“If we shut down the cotton industry, we don’t have any cotton seed and if we don’t have any cotton seed (cattle producers) won’t have any protein or roughage for our feed mix,” he said.
Mr Joyce said the Greens also wanted to “shut down irrigation” which would turn St George and Dirranbandi into ghosts towns of “white poverty”.
On the emissions reduction target, Mr Joyce said “there was no legislation that would have any effect whatsoever on anything to do with the climate, but we can send ourselves broke”.
Mr Joyce said this was already happening, with 20,000 people in Queensland going off the power grid because they could not afford their electricity bills.
He said farmers could not irrigate because of the cost of power.
“It’s immoral if you can’t pay your power bill,” he said.
“That’s why we are so emphatic about building new coal-fired power stations to try and drive more supply into the market, so we can drive down power prices.”
Mr Joyce also warned that a Labor Government could tax methane emissions, raising the spectre of a “methane” licence tax for cattle producers.
“I apologise if I’m a bit out there at times,” he said.
“People say ‘shut up’ but I’m not going to because if we don’t actually take these things on, we’ll get run over by them.”
* * *
The topic of One Nation preferences, which has been the focus of much discussion in the metropolitan media, was also brought up during questions.
Mr Joyce said “if you want to look at someone who’s completely off the planet, go talk to someone from the Citizen’s Electoral Council … they’re crazy”.
“They believe that the Rothschilds have got some conspiracy, that Prince Charles is part of some grand conspiracy …
“I have sat down and talked with all of them, to try and get their views.
“Then I’ve got to ask this question. A lot of them ARE crazy but you’ve got to have gradations … they’re not as bad as the other ones.
“I have to think about it. Are the Greens going to do more damage to me than One Nation? Well, I think the Greens will.
“I understand how it offends other people but I have got to make a decision for our people, not for their’s.
“I don’t want to get sucked into this ‘let’s all do this together’.
“Probably in Hunters Hill it is a really good political move to put One Nation last. But here, we have to make logical decisions.
“I would make them seat-by-seat.”
Mr Joyce said he was “absolutely certain” the National Party offered better representation than One Nation, because by being in a Coalition, the Nationals could get things done.
“You can’t stand out in the corridors and yell and scream and think that has any effect,” he said.
Mr O’Dowd said he believed the Labor Party and Greens would do more damage to his electorate than any other party.
“Labor and Greens should go last,” he said.
southburnett.com.au asked Mr O’Dowd if he was worried his preferences might flow to the One Nation candidate and push her over the line.
“It does but I think it would hopefully be a better result than Greens or Labor getting in,” Mr O’Dowd said.
* * *
The Boondooma visit was part of a whirlwind trip through the Flynn electorate by the pair, who also planned to visit Mundubbera, Theodore, Taroom and Moura.
On the way to Mundubbera, Mr O’Dowd and Mr Joyce met with members of the Mundubbera to Jandowae Roads Working Group at the single-lane John Peterson Bridge.
The group has been lobbying the Federal and State governments to release $20 million to upgrade the bridge.
This would enhance road transport links between central Queensland and the transport hub which is developing at Toowoomba with the Wellcamp Airport, the Second Range crossing and proposed Inland Rail.