Thursday, 1 December 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the Deputy Prime Minister explain to the House how the government's achievements support the hardworking Australians in the agricultural sector? Is the minister aware of any threats to the sector's ongoing success?
I thank the honourable member for his question. He knows more than most about how important it is to have a successful workforce in regional areas and how that workforce is complemented by people from overseas; we never want them to be replaced by people from overseas. Therefore, it is very important that we negotiate for a backpacker tax rate—a backpacker tax that came about by reason of the decisions of the former Treasurer, the Hon. Wayne Swan, and then was enforced by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. We now have the dilemma of trying to make sure that we get through a rate that is both fair for Australian workers and attracts people. It is incredibly important as we are dealing with what we have at this moment. It is this smarmy, derisive, obstinate approach from the Labor Party that is doing nothing but divide people up—divide Australians up.
You are starting to get a line on the Leader of the Opposition. You are getting a clear line on the type and the character of the person when you look at Chiquita Mushrooms and what happened to the Australian workers there; when you look at Clean Event and you find out what happened to the Australian workers there; when you find out about Senator Kimberly Kitching and how she was brought in against the wishes of so many others. You start to understand the character of the Leader of the Opposition when you see what he did to former Prime Minister Rudd and when you see what he then did to the next Prime Minister, Gillard. You start to understand the character of the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Maribyrnong, when you see what he is doing with the backpacker tax rate, because who is the person who is worse off after their rate goes through in the paddock? Either picking cherries, picking mangoes or working behind a bar, who is worse off? Well, it is the Australian worker. It is the Australian worker who has been let down by the former representative of the Australian Workers' Union. And who is the second person? Well, it is the people from the Pacific Islands. We can understand why we would look after them. They are doing it tough. We need to help them.
Who is the Leader of the Opposition helping? Well, it is the person from Paris. Why does he do that? Because of the political effect. In his swarmy, lubricious way he says, 'This scores a political point. This is worth it.' And he sits there with that Cheshire grin. He is grinning across the table because he does it. And the member for Hunter is smiling. Oh, you are so clever! You are so clever with the damage you have done. You do not care about Australian workers. You never have cared about Australian workers. You are so inside the beltway. That is all this is about. You are a disgrace in what has happened today when you should have shown that you could turn around, when you should have shown some ticker. You should get that grin off your face. It is not funny at all.
The whole point of what you are doing to the Australian horticultural industry is exactly what you did to the Australian live cattle industry. You are an absolute disgrace.