House debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Trade

3:02 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison-McCormack government recognises and thanks Australia's export sector for rising to the challenge to help their fellow Australians get through what has been a very challenging year?

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party, Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lyne. As he and all members know, it has been an extraordinarily difficult year. We've had drought, we've had flood, we've had bushfires, and we've had the devastation of COVID-19. We all remember those terrible days in March and April when meat, fruit and veg and many other essential items were flying off our supermarket shelves. At that time, Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation, urged Australians to be calm because farmers had their backs, and she was right. They had our backs then and they've got our backs now. So today we thank our farmers and we thank our orchardists and exporters for all of the wonderful work that they did, and continue to do, for our country.

Around Wellington in the central west, they're talking about the best season for 40 years. Around Dubbo and through to the Macquarie Valley, they're talking about a bumper harvest—perhaps the biggest on record. Have a look at what's happening in the member for Lyne's electorate. There you will find Macka's, which is a fourth-generation family-owned meat producer that operates a number of properties from Salt Ash through to Gloucester. This year they have opened up 10 new export markets, including Japan, Korea, Singapore and the Philippines. Well done, Macka's! Have a look at what's happening in my own neck of the woods around the central west. This week we've got central west cherries winging their way to Vietnam from Caernarvon orchards and many others around this area. They're helped by the federal government through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism—our $669 million program that supported over 8,000 flights and over $3.3 billion of high-quality Australian produce to leave our shores, supporting our primary producers and farmers. We know how important it is, because one in five jobs in Australia, and one in four jobs in regional Australia, are supported by trade. We've just recorded our 34th consecutive month of trade surpluses. This government, on this side of the House, is supporting primary producers and exporters. We've concluded eight free trade agreements, we're working on the EU trade agreement, and we are working on the UK trade agreement.

Today, we thank our exporters, our orchardists and our farmers. And, as the Deputy Prime Minister said, let's support them this Christmas. All Australians can support them by putting more lamb and snags on the barbie this Christmas, by serving our wonderful Australian wine at Christmas time and by putting local cherries on the table at Christmas time—Lord knows we've got plenty in our office. Or you could put out a bottle of Aussie port for Santa on Christmas Eve. Our farmers and exporters have had our backs and we've got theirs. (Time expired)