Monday, 8 February 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the minister update the House on how the coalition government's support for agriculture is boosting growth and jobs in my electorate of Hume and around the country?
I thank the honourable member for his question. The honourable member has come off a sheep and cattle place and comes from a family of four boys—we beat you; I came from a family of five. Apart from that, our paths differ. The honourable member is a Rhodes scholar, a university medallist and a first-class honours graduate from the university. He, more than most, understands exactly what has happened under this government as opposed to the previous Independent-Labor-Greens government in agriculture.
It was great to be able to pick up The Land on 24 January and see that agriculture exports have now overtaken coal as our second largest export commodity. I quote:
Australia's agricultural exports achieved a notable milestone last year, overtaking total coal to become the country's second most valuable commodity export after iron ore.
This does not happen by accident. This happens by hard work and it happens by good global conditions, but we have done our part to facilitate it.
We have always talked about what we have done in the beef industry and in the sheep industry, but I think it is good to start looking at a few of the other industries. The wine industry, for instance. Clonakilla, one of Australia's most prestigious vineyards, is in the honourable member's electorate. Under this government, we have seen wine exports in the last year go from 700 million litres in 2014 to 744 million litres in 2015, with its value going up from $1.82 billion in 2014 to $2.1 billion in 2015.
We have seen the rural goods exports under this government grow by 9.7 per cent in the year 2013-14 and by a further seven per cent in 2014-15. It continued its strong growth in the first half of the year 2015-16, going up by 12.7 per cent. Under this government, we have seen that over 50 commodities can now access international markets through improving demand for our produce, driving those jobs into regional areas. Over 30 key commodities can now access international markets more easily. This means more money in the producers' pockets and more money into regional towns. We have opened up seven new live animal destinations. We have also seen the price of wool increase.
But what did we see under the previous Labor-Greens-Independent government? We saw the aid budget go from $3.8 billion down to $1.7 billion; it was more than halved. We saw a government that closed down the live cattle trade, and none of them so much as raised a finger about it. The Australian people understand quite clearly the benefits of having a coalition government and it is great to be part of a government that is delivering those benefits.