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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Speech BILLS Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australia Fund Bill 2014 Monday, 17 March 2014 Clive Palmer – Member for Fairfax Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (10:12): I move: That this bill be now read a second time. We have limited time on this earth. Time for all of us is limited. Indeed, time is the enemy in our lives—our time in this place and our time to recognise the shortcomings and inadequacy of the system to see what can be done to change that and to make our life and the life of all Australians better. The government was elected over six months ago. There were a lot of competing priorities for the Prime Minister and all ministers of the government. During the past six months there has been serious hardship suffered by Australians due to drought, bushfires and radical changes in the economic future of this country. Government, by its very nature, is slow to act, and parliament is slower to take action. But when there is an actual disaster and major economic needs, then the response of government needs to be better than it is. The financial muscle of the Commonwealth has really been flexed to assist Australians in a time of need. All of us are diminished by the injustice that has been done to many Australians because the system of government has been slow to respond. I realise I am but one member of this House and that in introducing this bill I cannot be sure that it will get the support of the government or the opposition. But I hope it can. It is not meant to be critical of government or the opposition. It is not about Liberal policy or Labor policy; it is about the right policy. It is not about getting political kudos; it is more about realising we need to do better. This bill is not a financial measure. It is merely to pursue an idea that this House should establish a parliamentary committee to investigate and report back to the House on the establishment of Australia Fund, which would be a body rather than a fund, and would have the resources of the Commonwealth to act decisively in time of need, to determine what needs to be done to ensure that when natural disasters such as droughts, bushfires or floods are encountered, there are automatic measures in place to ensure Australians do not have to wait for the government to take action. Suicide is often a companion of misfortune; when Australians lose hope in the future, they are isolated and overcome with a feeling of guilt and responsibility of their families and children. If we act more decisively, more lives can be saved. This bill is to investigate the response time for government to mobilise and to consider how we can dramatically improve the best and most responsible responses. It took the government over six months to respond to the current drought. I am not convinced the opposition would have been any quicker. It is not about blame. I know the minister and the government did all they thought they could do in the circumstances. When we consider the current drought assistance package announced by the government, the question has to be asked: could it have been more inclusive and been targeted at a wider industry and more communities? The package seems to be targeted at beef and sheep properties. I commend the government for providing it, but there are more things 74 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


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