Senate debates

Thursday, 14 February 2008


Agricultural and Related Industries Committee; State Government Financial Management Committee; Housing Affordability in Australia Committee; Establishment

11:46 am

Photo of Bill HeffernanBill Heffernan (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Sorry, I mean Senator Wong. I was pleased that she was given the portfolio, because she is a high intellectual driver. We are pleased in the bush. We want a high intellectual driver running it. I was pleased that Tony Burke was given the job—even though I was disappointed for Senator O’Brien—because he is a high intellectual driver, has a clean sheet of paper and is a good listener. So I have not been going around blowing raspberries; I have been giving cheerio calls. I actually think this is about assisting the government in good decision making. This is about protecting rural Australia. It is very disappointing for a farmer to rock up to a fertiliser agent—who is intimidated by the monopoly supplier—when there is a shed full of superphosphate there, which back in November was worth a worth about $780 a tonne, and be told by the agent, ‘Mate, I can’t quote you a price or give you a delivery.’ And that super is sitting in the shed. We have been had! The price has now gone up $400 a tonne in the meantime, and now you can have some! The argument being put to the agents by the fertiliser monopoly supplier is: ‘Tell them the price of wheat has gone up, and that justifies the price of super going up.’ That is what this is about. It is about these sorts of issues. There are serious issues in the meat market at the present time.

We are not here to pull the government to pieces on the issues of rural Australia; we are to here to protect rural Australia. I implore the government to understand that this is not about money. This is not about resources. This is about a voice for rural Australia in this place. That is our job. I came here to represent the concerns of the bush. You can ring me at three o’clock in the morning if you have a problem. I do not mind—I will do something about it. With those few words, I want to put to bed the idea that somehow the government did not take the view. It is on the transcript of the ABC. They said they would take it to the ACCC. I do not mind if it goes to the ACCC, but I want to give farmers the opportunity to come in here and tell their story, because they have been had.


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