Monday, 7 December 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 has supported our agricultural sector through recent natural disasters and the COVID-19 recession?
I thank the member for his question. Over the last number of years, Australian agriculture has faced many headwinds, and this government has stood shoulder to shoulder with it, whether it be the more than $10 billion we've committed for drought support—a drought which has gone on in parts of this country for over eight years—or the more than $3.3 billion committed after the north-west Queensland floods or the more than $2 billion in support through the bushfires.
Australian agriculture has been able to start to repay that support to the Australian taxpayer. Today, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics has revised its outlook for agricultural output for this year. It's lifting it from $60 billion to $65 billion. That's an enormous result, considering what agriculture and regional Australia has faced. It has been predicated off a bumper winter crop, but we continue to need more rain to ensure we rebuild our national herd and to help agriculture reach its $100 billion goal by 2030. That's why, in the budget, we're looking to the future—not just at supporting the sector through natural disasters and trying times but looking to the future with our Ag 2030 plan with cold, hard cash.
It's a seven-pillar plan, with over $300 million set aside to not only put boots on the ground in high commissions and embassies around the world but also put more scientists here, to help in support and getting through those technical barriers to get us quicker market access. We're streamlining our market platforms to make them single-touch so that our farmers can do it quicker and simpler. And there's over $874 million in biosecurity support. We're putting that out there to protect brand Australia, up from $630 million in the 2014-15 budget—a significant investment in supporting biosecurity and protecting brand Australia.
Also, through our stewardship programs we're making sure that farmers are rewarded for the stewardship of our land and are looking for new ways to do that—even with the energy minister in trying to measure soil carbon, which would be a game changer. Or there's the $1.5 billion in modernising manufacturing—understanding the opportunity of enriching our supply chains through greater exports, producing and processing more here in Australia. And there's also protecting and looking at our agricultural inputs.
We're also looking at infrastructure. The Deputy Prime Minister has announced more money—significant cash—for building more dams and plumbing the nation. It's about more water—the story of agriculture is to just add water. We're also looking to modernise in our innovation systems: there's $86 million for eight new innovation hubs to support cutting-edge research and development to help our farmers adopt the best technology and science in the world to produce even more.
But it's also about the next generation. We've had generations of young people leave regional and rural Australia, but now the time has come to bring them back, and that's through education—reducing the cost of agricultural courses by 59 per cent. There is $250 million for reduced short courses to bring our young people home and drive agriculture to $100 billion by 2030.