House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:58 pm

Photo of Gavin PearceGavin Pearce (Braddon, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison-McCormack government and their Ag2030 plan is supporting the agricultural sector to help lead the way in our nation's economic recovery?

2:59 pm

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Braddon for his question, and I can assure you the federal government is committed to supporting agriculture's ambitious goal of reaching $100 billion by 2030. We've done this through our seven-pillar Ag2030 plan, and we've backed it with cold, hard cash. We did that in this year's budget. The primary pillars among those seven are our export markets and our biosecurity—protecting brand Australia. We've announced over $300 million for modernising and digitising our trading platforms to simplify for exporters, get out of their lives and let them get their products around the world as quickly as they can. We're going from issuing over 200 export certificates to digitising—giving initial certificates online. We're also working to make sure that the export trading platform supports those exporters, with the applications reducing from 20 down to one.

But we're also investing in boots on the ground. We've taken from 16 to 22 the number of agricultural counsellors around the world. The job of these men and women is to get market access for new commodities as well as get rid of technical barriers. We're having great success with that already. You only have to look at what's happened with trying to support the barley industry in its diversification. With our counsellors working with industry, we'll be sending our first shipment to Mexico, to go into their Heineken beer. We've also been able to secure an extra 700,000 tonnes to go into Saudi Arabia, and we've been able to secure improved arrangements into India for our barley. It's reducing their cost. We're making sure that we're competitive and our product is getting around the world.

But it's also important that we protect brand Australia. That's why the federal government in this year's budget announced $878 million worth of support for biosecurity, making sure that we're also investing in the technology that will protect brand Australia. That's about investing in underwater drones that will go underneath boats looking for hitchhikers. It's about putting scanners inside containers to understand whether there are any pests inside them. It's also about working to get an understanding of where those containers have been, not just the last place the shipment came from but the places before that, because those hitchhikers can emerge some time afterwards.

We're also supporting our biosecurity with increased penalties. We've increased those penalties for people who do not declare at our ports. We are lifting that penalty from $444 to $2,664, and we have cancelled the visas of at least 13 people who have tried to flout our biosecurity laws. And last week we introduced new legislation for those importers that also decide that they want to flout our biosecurity laws. We are lifting the penalties from $444,000 to over $1.1 million, plus there is the possibility of imprisonment for up to 10 years. The Australian government is putting the environment around our agriculture industry in helping it achieve its 2030 plan.