Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Questions without Notice


2:47 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Davey for her question about this really, really important issue that confronts Australia's farming sector. The government is investing $850 million in this budget as a commitment towards supporting our agricultural sector to get to $100 billion worth of farmgate value. Part of the critical pillar in this is obviously supporting biosecurity, and over $400 million will be invested in biosecurity measures to make sure that we keep Australia's agricultural sector safe from the incursion of foreign pests and diseases, because we know that agriculture continues to be one of the economic powerhouses of this country. Despite things like the impacts of drought and floods and bushfires and the COVID pandemic, we still, as a country, rely immensely on our agricultural sector. Keeping Australia free from pests and diseases is one of the most important things that we can do to make sure that we support Australian agricultural producers, because we know that biosecurity matters to them. It matters to them because the hard work they've done to gain market access could be compromised by pests and diseases. They know that they get a premium price for their products overseas because of our clean, green reputation. We know that even the small outbreaks that have happened in Australia can have devastating impacts, including, more recently, the over $2 billion that it has cost us to deal with African swine flu. We know that, for instance, if foot-and-mouth disease ever came into our country, we'd be looking at a $50 billion cost to our agricultural sector over the succeeding 10 years. So we are absolutely stepping up our resolve, our commitment, our funding to make sure that we combat, where we can, the incursion of pests and diseases into our country, because we stand side-by-side with our agricultural producers.


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