Thursday, 8 October 2020
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for Nicholls for his question. Despite the fact that over the last 18 months we've endured a flood up in north-west Queensland, where over 500,000 head of cattle were lost in a matter of days; we've had an ongoing drought that some parts of the nation are recovering from; we had devastating fires; and then we were hit by COVID, agriculture has still grown. Despite those headwinds, we will go from a $60 billion industry to a $61 billion industry because the Australian government have stood shoulder to shoulder with our primary producers and those regional communities. Over $10 billion has been committed to our drought response. Our response to the fires has been in excess of $2 billion, and $3.3 billion with respect to the floods. For COVID, we announced more measures in the budget with respect to more freight subsidy for our exports to get out and around the world to make sure we continue to be a reliable exporter to trading partners. We've also made sure that we're freeing up and incentivising young Australians to go out and see their country and also work.
But the budget isn't just about immediate priorities. It's about the future and supporting agriculture's ambitious vision of having a $120 billion industry by 2030. We announced, as part of that, our Ag2030 plan. There are seven key elements, and one of them is particularly around exports. We're a nation of 25 million people and we produce enough food for 75 million. We're investing $328 million in modernising our export platform, making sure we're working with those key industries to make real difference around quality assurance, giving them the regulatory guideposts that they need to protect our brand and brand Australia. In fact, the CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council said:
… the Federal Budget strongly invests in a contemporary, forward leaning export and business framework, not just for now, but well into the future that is fleet-footed enough to change as quickly as global events demand … Australian meat exports have long been considered world best class. These budget measures will propel that reputation into the future.
We're also protecting our image around biosecurity, with $873 million being invested into protecting our clean, green image, and we're investing in technology to make sure that we can do a more efficient job. We're investing in farmer stewardship, making sure we reward farmers for the stewardship of their land and their custodianship of our environment. We want fairer markets, making sure that farmers understand where the market chain priorities and pressures are. We're investing in infrastructure: $3½ billion in water infrastructure and $1.5 billion in roads. We're also looking at innovation, creating a new pillar of agriculture—innovation, research and development. We're bringing our young people home through education investments, reducing courses by 62 per cent, and investing in our people. I'm proud to say that the department of agriculture has now hit its target of having over 50 per cent female board representation. We're investing in our people to make sure Australian agriculture hits $100 billion by 2030.