Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Questions without Notice
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Minister, speaking about Donald Trump this morning, you said—and I will try to quote accurately: 'What people say on the campaign trail is mitigated by the strong advice they get once they get into office, because if you just fly solo on every issue you will create major problems for your nation.' Minister, has this been your experience with your own handling of the backpacker tax, drought relief and the relocation of the pesticides authority to your own electorate, just to name a few?
I have to say with all earnestness: I thank the member for his question. The last time he asked me a question was 9 November last year. He is the political Santa Claus of this place—he comes to the dispatch box but once a year. But it is great to see you here and it is great to see that you still have not really been able to ask me a question exclusively about agriculture. It is very important, if you look at the current polling, to be a little bit careful about what you say about who might be the next President of the United States, noting that Mr Trump is currently ahead, and way ahead on the odds, of winning the presidential race.
I do note that the reason the member for Hunter comes to the dispatch box but once a year is that, when he does open his mouth, he creates a catastrophe. He did so the other day with his announcement of a new rate for overseas workers at the expense of Australian workers—a new rate of tax at 10½ per cent for overseas workers, for backpackers. Let us look at this. I thought the Labor Party were the party of workers. They were the party that used to stand up for workers.
Might we go to a shed at Brewarrina, where on stand No. 1 is an AWU ticketholder who is shearing sheep at $3.08 a head, and his take-home pay—their average gets to about $55,000 a year, so at that rate they will take home about $2.08. But the shearer next door to them on stand No. 2, a backpacker from Uruguay, is taking home $2.75. Who came up with this brain explosion? Of course, it was the member for Hunter, in cahoots with Senator Jacqui Lambie. Senator Jacqui Lambie is running economic policy for the Labor Party. What an incredible day! How do you stand up for Australian workers when you are giving a distinct advantage to overseas workers? Is this the same attitude you used when you stood up for the workers at Clean Event? Is this the same attitude you used when you stood up for the workers at Chiquita Mushrooms? Who are you hurting now? None other but the whole of the Australian workforce. This is the party that says they believe in Australian jobs, yet this is the party that yesterday created the mechanism for the preference of overseas workers over Australian workers. Why? Who else are they trying to get close to? They are trying to get close to One Nation and Senator Jacqui Lambie, led by the member for Hunter. What an absolute work of genius! I tell you what you should do: do not let him down the chimney once a year; just stick him back up the chimney and let's never see him again.