Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Industry and Innovation and Science. I remind the minister that the Business Council of Australia today released a report on Australia's comparative advantage in the agrifood sector. Will the minister outline to the House how the government's actions in innovation and science will help drive paddock-to-plate productivity and help drive growth in regional Australia?
I am very pleased to get a question from the member for Lyne about the Business Council of Australia's report which they handed down today, Building Australia's comparative advantages: a 21st century agrifood sector, because his electorate of Lyne has a very diverse economy. It encompasses agriculture, food manufacturing and mining as well as industry and advanced manufacturing.
Mr Speaker, they are always dealing with the big issues on the other side of the House, aren't they? Focusing on my tie is apparently the big issue for the shadow Treasurer. Apart from replacing the member for Fowler, the other issue he is concerned about is whether my tie is a Hogwarts tie. I can assure you it is not; it is a Cosmos Club tie from Washington DC.
Back to the important question I was asked by the member for Lyne. The Business Council of Australia's agribusiness report today was the first of their five deep dives on the economy that the Business Council of Australia have promised to do. It is a very interesting document. In it, Jennifer Westacott says that one of the important things is:
… realising this opportunity requires a shift in mindset and approach from government and industry. Policies need to shift from a focus on agriculture alone to one that encompasses the broader agrifood sector.
That is why, member for Flynn and the rest of the House, the government is focusing on a national innovation and science agenda, which will be released next week, which will have great advantages to the agribusiness sector. It will help to drive businesses like SwarmFarm, in the member for Flynn's electorate, and Forager Foods, in the member for Lyne's electorate, in Tasmania. These are businesses that are using new technologies to drive jobs and growth in the Australian economy, in rural and regional Australia.
All four themes in the national innovation and science agenda, whether culture and capital, as an exemplar, or talents and skills, or collaboration, will have big impacts in rural and regional Australia. Take collaboration as just one example. We already support rural research and development corporations. Ag-focused competitive research centres have been very successful, with the CRC on pork, for example. As the minister for agriculture would know, it will soon form a limited company as the next iteration of its existence. CSIRO has a dedicated agriculture business unit. Lots of aspects of the national innovation and science agenda will help to turbocharge that part of the economy in agriculture, mining and food manufacturing right across rural and regional Australia. I am very much looking forward to it, as I am sure is the rest of the House. I welcome the Business Council's support of the government working to diversify the economy.