Thursday, 3 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management. Will the minister outline how the agriculture industry's strong growth has helped lead the economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession and how the Morrison-McCormack government's Ag2030 plan will assist this growth into the future?
I thank the member for Lyne for his question and acknowledge the rich and proud agricultural region that he represents, which is playing a big part in agriculture's stellar recovery, despite the fact that we've gone through drought, fire and flood. In fact, this week's national accounts figures show that we've increased our production by 34 per cent. That is a dividend back to the Australian taxpayer for the support that they've provided through that drought, fire and flood—nearly $11 billion worth of drought support; $3.3 billion worth of support during the floods, particularly for north-west Queensland, where we lost half a million head in 24 hours; and over $2 billion worth of support for the bushfire victims.
This builds on agriculture's foundations to reach the ambitious goal of $100 billion by 2030. But we're also backing it with our Ag2030 plan, with cold hard cash, making sure that our seven pillars that support this Ag2030 plan help them to do that, including through diversifying international markets. That's about digitising our platforms to make it easier to export around the world but it's also about putting boots on the ground. We're putting men and women on the ground in embassies and high commissions—22 agricultural counsellors whose job is to get market access, commodity by commodity. In the last six months, we've had extraordinary success, with our first shipment of barley to Mexico, to go into their beer. We've also secured 750,000 tonnes of barley to go into Saudi Arabia, as well as the Saudis giving us longer shelf life for our meat in their supermarkets. And last week, from Sri Lanka, we secured better fumigation in transit for our grain industry. Also, the Indians are providing us with better fumigation access for our grain.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting digitally with my Indian counterpart, Minister Tomar, where we made a commitment to one another to continue to enrich the relationship that we have in getting market access for us around grains and wool and also for them around pomegranates. So we're taking practical steps and taking advantage of those trade agreements we put in place. But it's also making sure that we're going further in supporting biosecurity—over $400 million in this budget on top of $888 million put in the October budget. That's over $1.2 billion put towards biosecurity in our last two budgets, whether it's infrastructure; whether it's the innovation, giving our farmers the tools of the 21st century to continue to produce the best food and fibre in the world; or whether it's in the supply chains, making sure that we understand the vulnerabilities of our inputs but are going further and reaching deeper through our supply chains to value-add to our product. But it's also about our people: investing in the next generation of young people to bring them home to agriculture and to bring them home to regional and rural Australia. We're driving down university courses in agriculture to entice them back to the new jobs of agriculture and of science and technology. So our investment in agriculture is one that is putting the foundations around it continuing to be the bedrock of this nation's economy.