House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Consideration in Detail

7:20 pm

Mr O'Dowd:

I rise to speak about Labor's October budget and what it means for agriculture. I wish to provide practical examples of how this budget is nothing more than an attack on our agricultural industry.

Harvest is in full swing in my electorate of Flynn, including on my own property at Taroom. There is no doubt that agriculture is feeding this nation. Food security must be front and centre as we travel towards the future. Minister, how does this Labor government plan not only to feed Australia but to help feed the world, as the Prime Minister has stated?

Diesel power is critical for agriculture, and people who thinks it will be replaced by alternative energy sources in the near future—people just like Chris Bowen, the 'minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction'—are delusional. Labor's budget has committed to increasing heavy vehicle road user charges from the rate of 26.4 cents per litre to 27.2 cents per litre. This means truck drivers will be slugged an extra 0.8 cents tax for every litre of diesel that they use. This will ultimately mean farmers will have to pay more to produce and get their product to market, and consumers will pay more to buy this product at the supermarket. Labor's agenda is to treat regional Australia like a cash cow, and it's an absolute disgrace. Minister, why has the heavy vehicle road user charge increased when we are already seeing record diesel prices?

Whilst they have increased the heavy vehicle road user charge, the $14.5 billion Inland Rail is in doubt, with Labor reviewing this much needed project. Re-examining the route has the potential to ignite community angst about the Inland Rail project, increasing unnecessary uncertainty. The coalition government announced that it had agreed in principle to the extension of the Inland Rail to the port of Gladstone, and committed to a $10 million business case to work with the Queensland government to examine the viability of extending this railway line. Minister, will the Inland Rail be extended to the port of Gladstone?

Gas is required for the production of fertiliser, and supply must be maintained. Water and associated infrastructure needs to be expanded to maintain agricultural production. Labor's own budget forecasts gas prices skyrocketing by 40 per cent in the next two years, yet they have provided no serious policy or investment to alleviate the surge in gas prices. This will directly affect the price of fertiliser, adding extra costs to farm production. The surest way to secure affordable, reliable gas is through increasing supply. Funding for gas exploration has been cut. Labor has gutted $31 million from the exploration of the Cooper and Adavale basins gas plan and $23 million from the Beetaloo by discounting the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program. Minister, why does the Labor government not support further gas exploration?

The budget also scraps $4.6 billion from water projects by not proceeding with the Hells Gates dam project in Queensland. Deferring funding of $899.5 million over four years from the Dungowan dam and pipeline, Emu Swamp dam and pipeline, Hughenden irrigation scheme and the Wyangala Dam wall-raising project and making cuts to water programs are devastating and will impact severely on regional areas. The development of water assets is critical to the future of agriculture and industry in Australia, but this budget does not address this. Minister, why has this funding been cut?

Agricultural land needs to be protected by legislation to counter the onslaught of wind farms, solar farms and transmission lines in our pursuit of the renewable energy sector. Reducing emissions by 43 per cent will require the installation of 40 seven-megawatt wind turbines every month from now to 2030. It will require more than 22,000 five-hundred-watt solar panels to be installed every day for the next eight years—2.4 for every man, woman and child. Minister, how much land, including prime agricultural land, will be needed to reach this target?

I've learnt the Labor government has signed up to the methane emissions pledge. This is another broken election promise from Chris Bowen, following his backflip on vehicle emissions standards. What activists want is the end of the beef industry. Labor MPs such as Ged Kearney have endorsed calls to reduce meat consumption and move Australians to plant-based diets. (Time expired)


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