First Speech: Clive Palmer MP

Member for Fairfax, Queensland

2 December 2013

 Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (17:12): Madam Speaker, Australians know who I am and where I come from. They know I love my family and that I love Australia. In 1918 my father, at the age of nine, went to see a silent movie. By the time he was 14 he was producing and starring in his own movies. He went on to become the world's youngest movie producer—as he was known in Hollywood, at the time, in the United States. He returned to Australia to establish radio station 3AK in Melbourne and radio 7UV in Tasmania. Prime Minister Lyons, of the United Australia Party, opened radio 3AK—and I still have the recording.

My mother was born in Penguin, Tasmania, and left in 1940 to work in ammunition production in Melbourne. Family members have served this nation in the first and second world wars, some giving their lives for Australian freedom. My nephew, Squadron Leader Martin Brewster, served with INTERFET in Timor, and all of them have done for Australia more than I could ever do. Like half of all Australians, I lost my first partner, Sue. Her love and our children, Michael and Emily, sustain me every day. My wife, Anna, and my lovely five-year-old daughter—or middle five, as she says, daughter—Mary, remind me every day of what life is all about: love for each other, and the love we will have for each other in the future. I look forward to the coming weeks, when I will again become a father, and I have a strong resolve to serve our nation and a strong resolve not to let the people of Fairfax down.

Fairfax has been taken for granted for many years. My election is a reminder to the major parties that they must truly serve all Australians. As has been said, let us not seek the Liberal answer or the Labor answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix blame for the past but let us accept our own responsibility for the future. We meet today in a city which itself has reconciled our people at difficult times in the nation's history—a city that in this last century has been witness to the trials and tribulations of our people—at a time when the nation lacks direction and needs to set sail on a new course.

How long can parliament remain indifferent to the needs of all Australians? How long can government be deaf to the everyday struggles of all Australians? They must be on top of the national agenda. On this small speck in the universe, planet Earth, we must do all that we can to help each other. Our main concern needs to rest with how we can grow and expand our economy and create more wealth—not wealth for the wealthy but for all, even the least among us. As a wise man once said many years ago, injustice to a man anywhere is an injustice to all men everywhere. We live today in a nation where the roads are no longer safe, where ambulances remove the carnage from our highways, where the infant mortality rate of our Indigenous people is twice that of the Australian community, where the life expectancy of many of our poorer and downtrodden citizens is less than it should be, where health services are declining, where our elderly and veterans are forgotten, where the tyranny of distance separates the hopes and the aspirations of remote Australia, and where the despair of the homeless and unemployed robs the nation of the productivity of our citizens. Tasmanians, I found out during our election campaign, feel abandoned by mainland Australia. The ghosts of the Anzacs call us to action.

To stimulate our economic activity, we must ignite the creativity of all our citizens. Chairman Mao said a long time ago that women hold up half the sky, yet women received their vote in 1902 but prejudice still remains. Leadership, not complacency, is our need today. In parliament and in cabinet, we need more women.

The nation needs a strong economy with efficient production. Australia still has a AAA credit rating. The decline in Queensland's credit rating has been followed by a decline in services. Our citizens need to live a civilised life. Government is not about business; it is about creating the environment to allow all our economy to flourish, to grow revenue to sustain the nation, and to provide income and security to all Australians.

Confidence is low. Our standard of living has declined. We must use our resources better. We are not prisoners to the world economy, helplessly adrift in a sea of despair. The problems we have have been made by Australians and can be solved by Australians. We should not accept defeat by just cutting and slashing, lest the reaper reap more than he can sow. Borrowing to avoid the problem and put off the day is not the real solution. We need in this place and at this time to set a national agenda for growth—a goal for all of us. When the day comes—and it most surely will—when citizens elected by the people take proper and full responsibility for the welfare of their fellow citizens and when we treat other Australians as we would want them to treat us then we can surely know that we do God's will. Public service has no reward other than the service of others. It is the legacy we leave future generations. History is our real judge. Let us work together not as opponents in this place but as colleagues joined by time and space to serve the nation we love.

Australians have lost hope in the future. Change is certain. Success reflects our ability to adapt to that change. It is not individuals' personalities that are important. It is not demeaning comments about those who sit opposite you that are important. After all, all of us in this place have merely offered our lives to serve, and the challenge is really what we can do to make life better for our fellow Australians.

At the last election, the Palmer United Party won 5.5 per cent of the vote, becoming Australia's fourth largest party. The Prime Minister only became Prime Minister because the coalition received the Palmer preferences. Palmer United outpolled the National Party. Palmer United elected one member—me—of the House of Representatives and three senators, only to find our last senator denied his position in the Senate by the AEC losing the ballot boxes in Western Australia. Palmer United and the motorists will hold the balance of power in the Senate. In Western Australia our polling is showing that we can win two senators if an election is held today. In Fairfax, Palmer United received one of the largest swings in the nation's history, of 50.3 per cent. That is why I am here. The Murdoch Newspoll showed 'others' as being 12.4 per cent recently, but they did not list Palmer United. I think we must be in the 'others'. Our recent polling has shown that we are now polling about 10 per cent of the nation, nearly twice as much as the vote we received at the election. Many Australians believed that a vote for Palmer was a wasted vote. Now our party vote has solidified. I want to thank all the 150 candidates who stood in every seat available in the House of Representatives, our Senate teams and our party members in every state and every territory.

Political courage is one of the rarest commodities, and in Queensland our state leader, Dr Alex Douglas, and his deputy, Carl Judge, defend freedom and the rights of individuals before a difficult parliament and in an impossible situation. They are putting the rights of Australians and principle before political expediency, a lesson we can all learn. The entrenchment of the two-party system in this country not only threatens democracy but destroys the creativity of the nation. It robs from all of us the benefit of each other's ideas and innovation.

The forward estimates in August 2013 projected provisional tax receipts for 2014 would exceed $70 billion. Instead of making our companies and businesses pay this tax quarterly in advance based on an estimate, we need to let them pay it yearly based on what they actually earn. If we keep $70 billion in enterprises' hands then they can spend it better than the government. Australia will create real demand, massive job growth and reduced unemployment. We will turbocharge our economy. If $70 billion is spent by individual taxpayers, the government gets 10 per cent GST. The government gets $7 billion every time it is spent by our citizens, and the government will receive the $70 billion at the end of each year. More hospitals and schools, a rising standard of living and increased wealth and revenue mean we can make Australian lives better. At current interest rates it would cost around $800 million a year, but it will generate billions each year for the nation. We have to stimulate domestic demand.

The government is the top petitioner of bankruptcy and liquidations, and as a result our businesses close, our employees lose their jobs and we lose out as a nation. We lose group tax, company tax, exports, GST and jobs. Stop government driving businesses to the wall. Let people stay employed. Transferring people from gainful employment to unemployment just guarantees misery for all of us. Find a better way, such as Chapter 11 in the United States. The US government do not petition bankruptcies; they stimulate the economy. The loss of one year's income due to unemployment is more than it costs for five years of education at high school. To neglect education performance is not only bad policy but bad economics.

Our Army, Navy and Air Force personnel protect and defend us all. We must link all service pensions to male total average earnings and expand gold card benefits to peacekeepers and to spouses of our very brave veterans. We need to support regional Australia by introducing zonal taxation. Regional areas need doctors and professionals to grow. Regional industries benefit all of Australia. We have to end this discrimination over regional industries and allow them to compete in international markets.

If Australians are satisfied that what their government is doing now is adequate for Australia and our future, Australians can accept their lot, but if, as I do, they see Australia's future as doing more than we have done so far—expanding our economy, not cutting and not borrowing but looking to grow the nation that we love—the government should give everyone the support to have an agenda of growth and enterprise for this nation. The nation has the strength and the potential to live out its heritage and to fulfil the dreams of the Anzacs, to turn Australia into the lucky country, to restore our economy and to reclaim our national heritage. Many people say they care but they really do not. Parliament should be about the needs of others, but sometimes it is not.

In Queensland, the Mulga is dying. Drought and flood have combined to rain havoc on families of that region. How can we not act? How can we complain about animal welfare overseas when we let thousands of cattle die a slow and painful death? How can we let Australian families suffer? Are we so indifferent to the needs of our fellow Australians? It is our responsibility in this place to be the last sentry at the gate to protect the rights and freedoms of all Australians, regardless of the party they belong to. Australia needs a revolution in the way we think and in the way we boost our wealth and our economy for the benefit of all our citizens. We have to re-establish confidence. We need to believe we can lift our economy to a better future. We need to have a positive attitude. We may not get there, but nothing is surer than we will fail if we do not project a positive agenda for the nation in a positive manner.

Public service and political life must be the highest calling. The catchcry of this place needs to be: respect for ideas. Great debate demands its victim and truth is the only winner. We are all winners when truth prevails over injustice. The content of our individual characters is more important than how much money we have. We need to praise the incorruptibility of our public officials, the integrity of our marriages and the worth of our people. It is ideas that matter. Governments may come and go, but ideas go on forever. It is ideas that will shape this nation; it is ideas that will endure through time. We are gone and forgotten in history, in commerce and in politics. It is ideas that capture the conscience of the nation. It is ideas that endure when all else is gone. Let us unite to serve the nation we love, to discover the future, to share our trials and tribulations, to overcome adversity, to pull together for our common good under the Southern Cross and to know, as a great man said, that on this earth God's work must truly be our own.

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