Thursday, 3 December 2015
Questions without Notice
Agriculture and Water Resources
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the minister update the House on how the coalition government has backed farmers, agriculture and rural and regional Australia more broadly over the course of 2015? How has this support delivered on the coalition's commitment to restore agriculture as a fundamental pillar of the Australian economy?
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
I thank the honourable member for his question. He is from a family that has had a strong and continued involvement in politics. His brother is one of the local mayors. His wife, Robyn, is an absolute tower of strength and support of the local member. His son is a rather capable advisor too, I might add. But the member for Parkes asked the question of what we have done in agriculture, and I am proud to report to the member the wonderful work this coalition government has done in agriculture, including the $4 billion agricultural competitiveness white paper that was launched in July—a pathway not only for this government but for governments in the future—one that took into account over 1,000 submissions and made sure that we were dealing with issues and through which such things as the 100 per cent write-off on fencing, the 100 per cent write-off on water reticulation and a write-off over three years for fodder storage have already been delivered. These are all terribly important.
We have also managed to get water back into agriculture, and with water resources and agriculture tied together we now have the capacity for that unity of purpose as we drive forward for better delivery in such things as dams. To that purpose, we have $½ billion in the kitty to start that process of building new dams, because we are a nation that believes in dams. We are a nation that believes our best days are ahead of us. We are the sort of people who are excited about water infrastructure, and we believe that we have the competence to do it.
We can also report that we delivered on the three free trade agreements, and I acknowledge the wonderful work done by the Minister for Trade. But it is not just that. It is also the live animal destinations, opening up markets to Egypt, to Bahrain, to Lebanon and to Iran—the protocols to Iran after four decades—and to Cambodia, to Thailand and in China. We are already moving product into China as we speak. It might also be the $379 million we have spent on a post-entry quarantine facility in Melbourne. It is also very important to clearly understand that this is a government that has seen the greatest turnaround in soft commodity prices in the history of our nation. We now have record cattle prices. We have had record sheepmeat prices. We have had a turnaround in the broader wool market, and I think cotton is getting $517 a bale for next year. We are a nation because of our research and development, which has the highest yielding cottons in the world. And here comes a man who never has much to say!
Yes, I can. I refer you to page 189 of Practice. You should have a good read of it. The member for Hunter will resume his seat, and I will address his point. I have made clear many times in the House that I can rule on a point of order at any point once it has been stated. If you look at Reps Practice, there are many precedents where previous Speakers, including Speaker Jenkins, did not even allow a point of order and ruled that way immediately. It is on page 189. I suggest you have a read of it. There is no point of order. The minister has the call.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
The member for Hunter is warned.
Also, I know that in the west of the member's electorate they have been doing it tough with drought, and that is why more than 5,500 people have had access to claims for Farm Household Allowance to deliver real cash benefits back to them, and over $400 million has been lent out in concessional loans. This is a government that has taken agriculture back to the centre. We are a government with vision, and we are delivering.