Katter’ This country is being run by the Chinese corporates

Mr Bob Katter (Member for Kennedy): I rise to speak on this matter of public importance. I do not share the views of my crossbench colleagues. I greatly respect them and I greatly respect their honourable beliefs but I do not agree with them. We are talking about Julian Assange. He, in fact, comes very much from my homeland, and I would have natural prejudices for him. But we have a country that is a dictatorship called China. It has made no secret of ambitions that go well beyond its own borders. Its power is enormous. I share my crossbench colleagues’ view that this country is no longer being run by this country; this country is being run by the corporates. I think all of us on the crossbenches would share that view, which is not held by either side of this parliament. The corporates are running this country. Most of the corporates happen to be Chinese, and if you think they’re running those corporations in the interests of Australia then you would be very much misguided. Then again, when a supposed Australian company is paying its CEO $25 million a year and he seems to have an influence of extraordinary power in this country, then I would say that democracy really is becoming close to a mockery.

Let me just say that the important decisions made in this country are made not by the people in this parliament but by corporations. They decide whether a big building is going to be built or whether it’s not going to be built. They will decide whether a mine is going to open or whether it’s not going to open. They will decide whether they employ people on an industrial award or on some other arrangement. They will decide all of that and that is their power. You free marketeers have given them that power. You free marketeers have enabled them to buy the Australian economy. I mean, how much of the electricity industry do they own? How much of Australian water do they own? How many of the Australian airports do they own? How many of the Australian seaports do they own? Then ask: how much of Australia do we own?

I was just talking to a very good friend of my wife about the six million acres of all the station properties surrounding us at the time. I asked: ‘How much is owned by Australians?’ She said, ‘About two million.’ I will be giving the details of that in this parliament very shortly. That is a random sample. I spoke to someone who happens to be a distant relative of mine—a First Australian at the top of Western Australia. I said, ‘How much of Western Australia is owned by foreigners?’ and she said, ‘Ask how much of Western Australia is owned by Australians. That would be the more relevant point!’ She said, ‘Outside of my people—we still have reservation areas that we’re not allowed to do anything with; we can’t break a twig on them or take a cup of water out of the river. We still own that area, but take the national parks out and most of the rest is owned by foreigners.

You people have sold your country. It’s owned by somebody else. The people who own it have the say, not you. So, in a very profound sense—in a more profound sense than the Julian Assange argument or arguments over boat people—democracy does not rule this country. Once upon a time, we were able to make laws which pinned these people down so that they could not indulge in harmful behaviour to Australia. Whether it’s in an environmental area or whether it’s in an industrial award area, they could not act outside of the parameters of this place. When you signed the free trade agreement, you agreed that we could not change the goalposts; we could not change the rules. You gave your sovereignty to the corporations.

I come from a mining area. There were four great mining companies in this country. There was Rio Tinto Australia, which they claimed was Australian—I would doubt that, but, anyway, they claimed that it was. MIM most certainly was Australian owned, BHP most certainly was Australian owned, and Western Mining was most certainly Australian owned. They are now all incontrovertibly foreign-owned, and they account for nearly 80 per cent of our mineral production. So you gave the whole lot away