House debates

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions without Notice


2:50 pm

Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture. Will the minister outline to the House why it is important for the Morrison-McCormack government to provide a stable and certain approach to supporting our agriculture export sector, and how does this approach differ from alternative methods?

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Flynn for his question and also the people of Flynn for their significant contribution not just to the resource sector but also to the agricultural sector. They play an important part in one of our most important industries—one that has a great story. The story is: just add rain. It will rain, and when it rains our agricultural sector will recover, but part of the recovery will be the underpinning of our trade agreements, which will make sure that we not only recover but also grow the agricultural industry to $100 billion by 2030.

We have to understand the importance of trade to the agricultural sector. We're a nation of 25 million people. We produce enough food for 75 million people. So, if we don't engage and trade with the world, we will oversupply our agricultural products, and that also has a significant impact on those regional communities that support our agricultural sector out there in the regions. That's why this government's been strong in achieving key trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea but also the TPP-11 agreement, which those opposite walked away from, saying: 'It's all too hard. Forget about it. The horse has bolted.' We rode that pony all the way to the finish line. We went all the way through, and we made sure that we gave farmers access to a $13 trillion marketplace. For the first time we have access to markets in South America. We've got agricultural counsellors getting us market access commodity by commodity for our farmers in new markets, opening up opportunities. This is the enormous opportunity that we provide in opening up trade to our farmers, to allow them to trade with the world.

Now we're also looking to finalise an agreement with Indonesia. This is a monumental achievement considering where our relationship has come from, from the lowest point in 2011, when a panic-stricken government overnight stopped the live trade of cattle to Indonesia, shattering our trade agreements with Indonesia and our trust and reliability with one of our nearest neighbours. The same happened with live sheep exports. Predicating their decision on one television show, they wanted to ban live sheep exports. We took a calm, methodical approach to reform the industry, to make sure that the industry had trust and confidence not just from the Australian people but also from our trading partners. That is what leadership is in trying times. That's what our farmers want. That's what our world trading partners want. They want trust and reliability. They want to know that they have a trading partner that they can rely on in the good and the bad times.