Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison-McCormack government's consistent policy approach is building resistance for agriculture? Is the minister aware of risks associated with any alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Cowper for his question. I acknowledge the contribution that the Cowper electorate makes to agriculture, the rich and proud history of agriculture in the Cowper district and how it is going to contribute to the resilience and the future of agriculture in meeting its $100 billion goal by 2030. I heard as I went around the electorate of Cowper and from listening to industry leaders that they want certainty—they want certainty in policy formation and execution, particularly in areas that are so important to Australian farmers at the moment, such as drought and live trade.
Let's not forget the reckless actions of those opposite, who, because of a television show, banned live trade to Indonesia overnight. That trashed our relationship with our nearest and best neighbour. It has taken 10 years of policy formation and execution to rebuild that relationship to the point where we have now been able to sign a free trade agreement with Indonesia. That will actually benefit beef farmers and broader agriculture. That is because of the calm and methodical way in which this government has undertaken its policy formation, ensuring that we give certainty not just to our farmers but to our international partners. That's what calm, methodical government is about. It's also about the drought.
Honourable members interjecting—
I'll take that interjection. Let me remind those opposite about live sheep. Those opposite were going to walk away overnight. Instead of the calm, methodical approach of science and regulation, they were going to take it away. The Labor Party in Queensland has a policy resolution to remove all live trade by 2030, which will destroy agriculture in northern Australia overnight. That is the reckless approach of those opposite with respect to live trade.
But it extends further than that. It extends to drought. Before the election, in one of the lowest political acts in this nation's history, those opposite voted against the Future Drought Fund—a $5 billion fund giving a $100 million a year dividend. It was the lowest political act, playing on the misery of Australian farmers in the middle of the worst drought. That is one of the biggest kicks Australian agriculture has ever had. It took an election to change their mind. It took the 18 May election to change their mind. I suspect the member for Hunter played a very contentious part in that.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
Yes, you did, Member for Hunter. It took you that long because of the near-death political experience you had. You nearly lost your seat. You came out from underneath the rock you had been hiding under for six years. You finally found a voice, albeit from the confines of the Otis restaurant.