Monday, 24 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. How is the Morrison government delivering on its balanced plan to support our farmers to ensure they can deliver the food and fibre Australia needs? How does this compare against the risk of alternative approaches for Australians at the check-out when they are buying their groceries?
I thank the member for Lyne for his question. I also thank him for the contribution his electorate makes to the agricultural sector and to our community in underpinning the best food and fibre in the world being produced right here in Australia, giving not only the rest of the world confidence but also our own consumers confidence. The federal government has supported that through significant investments in biosecurity—making sure that we keep those pests out that are foreign to our farmers to protect our image, because that means that we're able to command a higher price internationally and make sure that our consumers have confidence in the product they are consuming.
We've gone a step further with respect to the country-of-origin labelling. We have taken the green and gold kangaroo and we've given it greater currency, with a barcode underneath it so that when consumers go to the supermarket they can make sure they have a clear understanding of the level of Australian ingredients in it. We're empowering consumers to support Australian farmers, to make that decision at the check-out, and to be able to go in with confidence and understand that they are consuming the best produce in the world because it's come from an Australian farmer. That's about putting a framework around not only our farmers but also our consumers.
We've gone another step with respect to our infrastructure spending. Our job as the federal government is to put the environmental infrastructure around our people and our farmers. We're doing that now with the infrastructure that we're putting put in place—roads, rail and airports—to make sure that our produce gets to these supermarkets as quickly as it possibly can, to ensure that our Australian consumers get that produce as quickly as possible. But there's a real threat to that, and that came only on the weekend with, again, the reckless policy of zero emissions, because it's not just farmers they are going after; they put a gun to the head of Australian agriculture and said: 'We don't believe in supporting you. We are going to take you out and we're going to put you in the place of this.' But now they're going after a 'check-out tax'. Every consumer will pay for this, and not just at the farm gate. They will also pay for this—
It is a serious issue—and I take the objection. But let me say that what they are creating is a check-out tax. It is not just the farm sector that will be penalised; it will be the processing sector. Twenty one per cent of the cost of processing the beast is for transport and energy. What those opposite will do is lift that portion of it up again. What that means is consumers will pay for this at the check-out. It's a check-out tax.
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
The member for Hunter interjects. He had this brave moment after the political near-death experience he had on 18 May. He called out from under that rock where he was hiding for six years. And now, all of a sudden, the Left of the party have put their thumb back on his forehead and pushed him back under that rock he came from. For all the bravado he had after the election, he sold out the coal workers in the Hunter, he sold out the agricultural sector, because he is just not strong enough.