Thursday, 21 February 2019
In the contribution made by the member for New England, he says it can't be done because it will threaten our other free trade agreements. I must remind the member, who I have great respect for, that the average support levels for farmers throughout the world is 41 per cent. They are not my figures; they are the OECD's figures in the last landmark report. Every farmer on earth gets 41 per cent of his income from the government, with two exceptions—Australia and New Zealand. Australia is 5.6 per cent. So how can these other countries argue that they should act against us when they're sitting on 40 per cent? I'm talking about the support levels in Europe and the United States, which were 39 per cent last time I looked. How can we continue to compete when they're getting 41 per cent off their government and we're getting 5.6 per cent off our government? We can't. Your argument won't work.
It was introduced when Jack McEwen came in, which was about 1935 or whatever it was, and that milk scheme was there from 1935 to 1990. I don't know how many years that is but it is a lot of years. It worked for 60 years. And the wool scheme was raised. I repeat quietly, please listen: when the scheme was introduced, the price went up 300 per cent. It's a matter of public record. When Keating undermined the scheme and then abolished it, over the next three years, it dropped down to one third. No-one cut off our trade to any country on account of this. I mean, all the free trade agreements were in place when these things occurred. We had these sorts of free trade agreements then.
I don't want to take up the time of the House because I know how busy the government is doing a lot of good things. Every agricultural industry, including cattle, was dominated by the beef agreement with the United States and Japan because the vast bulk of our exports went to those two countries and we had government-to-government agreement on the price. So even the beef industry was regulated.
The Country Party believed that if we went into the free market, we'd be eaten alive. It that was true then for the wisest men this place may have ever seen, in the form of Doug Anthony and Jack McEwen, who fought for 60 years, and the ALP. Chifley introduced the wheat scheme. (Time expired)