Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Questions without Notice
TLEPROUD (—) (): I thank the member for Mallee for her question and acknowledge the rich and proud history of the Mallee in producing some of Australia's finest food and fibre. In fact, it will play a very significant role in Australian agriculture, for the first time in our nation's history, producing more than $80 billion worth of output. To put this in perspective, only about six years ago, we were producing $40 to $45 billion worth of production, and that is because we have been putting environmental infrastructure around our farmers. Our Ag2030 plan goes directly to that and our budgets, since announcing our Ag2030 plan, have put over $2 billion towards that environmental infrastructure. Trade is pivotal to us in the Australian agricultural sector. We are a nation of 26 million people and we produce enough food and fibre for 80 million people. So if we don't trade with the world, don't engage with the world, we would not need as many farmers.
In the last two budgets, there has been in excess of $500 million for modernising our training platforms. In fact, for the first time, we are giving our farmers individual portals to be able to identify export opportunities for them at the farm gate—a world first. We are also putting more boots on the ground in embassies and high commissions, breaking down those technical barriers that have stopped us from getting a market access, commodity by commodity.
But we are also protecting brand Australia with a record spend in biosecurity, over $1 billion in making sure we protect our borders from pests and diseases decimating Australian agriculture. We are doing that with new technology, as well as by putting more boots on the ground and more paws on the ground. In fact, we are also putting robotic paws on the ground—robotic dogs—in areas that the labradors can't go to.
We are the first country in the world to embrace 3D x-ray technology with artificial intelligence that is checking every one of the 144 million parcels that go through Australia Post. We will extend this for the first time in a trial with New Zealand airports to understand what is in your bag before you leave New Zealand. These are world firsts that we are undertaking but the world firsts do not stop there.
We are the first country in the world to protect brand Australia by being able to measure an improvement in biodiversity. Our carbon farming projects will now not only be able to get a carbon payment but a biodiversity payment because we are the first country in the world to be able to measure an improvement in biodiversity. So our farmers will get those payments plus we will be branding their product with a seal for their wheat, their beef and their wool that says to the world that it is the most sustainably produced in the world. This is the environment we are putting around Australian agriculture to grow the jobs to make sure that regional and rural Australia benefit from a strong agricultural sector well into 2030.