Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Treasury Laws Amendment (Supporting Australian Farmers) Bill 2018; Second Reading
The Minister for Health says that's a false accusation. I say to the minister that I was very careful about how I said that. He tweeted and authorised a video in which that was said. I think in anybody's language that is akin to promoting and endorsing thoughts in that video, particularly when the text of the tweet said something like 'another way of thinking about drought'. If the Prime Minister wasn't sympathetic to that statement, there is no way in the world he would have tweeted that video. What is the alternative explanation? What other conclusion could we possibly come to? Why else would the Prime Minister be tweeting that video and writing something like 'another perspective on drought'? There's only one conclusion you can come to.
Those opposite have been coming to this debate saying, 'We've been doing this; we've been doing that.' I've dealt with those issues, but members of the House don't have to take my word for it. At the National Press Club recently the president of the National Farmers' Federation, Fiona Simson, said this:
… we don't have a comprehensive national strategy to deal with drought.
That's what the president of the National Farmers' Federation said, and she is right, because the member for New England stopped the progress of the reform program.
The member for Parkes outrageously gestured over towards the opposition and said, 'They got rid of all the good programs.' I remind the member for Parkes that that historic agreement between the Commonwealth and the states in 2013 was supported by all members in this place of all political persuasions—I shouldn't say that; I'm not sure what the member for Kennedy, for example, had to say at the time, but it was supported by the major parties and that minor party they call the National Party, even though that's not really their name, and the National Farmers' Federation. This approach was the commencement of a program which had the support of all the major parties and the leading farm organisations. It is not appropriate for the member for Parkes to be pointing his finger across at this side; he should be pointing his finger at himself, because his party was very much part of that process.
You can't have a drought policy or hope to develop and progress a drought policy until you accept that the climate is changing, fairly obviously, and until you accept that it's important—if only based on the precautionary principle—to do something about carbon emissions. We have to do something about carbon emissions. Again, we've had five years of a government that is unprepared to do that and climate deniers like the member for New England, who want to continually run a political campaign on that point. It doesn't have to come at a high cost; the cheapest way to do it is through the electricity sector. The best way to prevent this ridiculous discussion about going to the farm sector for the abatement is to do something in the electricity sector. But the member for New England doesn't want to do that. If people start gesturing to the idea of going to the farm sector for the abatement, blame people like the member for New England, who don't want to do anything in the electricity sector.