Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Questions without Notice
Queensland: Agriculture Industry
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Canavan. My home state of Queensland is approximately 84 per cent agricultural land. Last year the Queensland state government introduced devastating new vegetation management laws for our farmers. Can the minister please update the Senate on any recent developments relating to vegetation management that may impact this crucial sector?
I thank Senator McGrath for his question and I recognise his longstanding advocacy for the great Queensland agricultural sector. He's right that last year the Queensland Labor government imposed draconian laws on our farmers, restricting their ability to develop their land and manage their land and to do what they do for all of us, which is to provide fresh and wonderful produce. What we have learnt this week is that the Labor Party and Bill Shorten are planning to bring these laws to Canberra—to bring these same draconian laws that are restricting Queensland farmers now to Canberra and apply them nationally. As the Prime Minister said this week, Bill Shorten wants to land-lock this country away from development, away from progress and away from growing more food. In fact, what he really wants to do is padlock the Queensland farming sector and the Australian farming sector to the land-lock laws of the Queensland parliament. And that's something we oppose. We support farming in this country. We support the hard work that our farmers do.
It's best summed up by the farmers who have been impacted by these laws. Peter Thompson, a beef and crop farmer in Queensland, has said that the laws in Queensland 'will lead to erosion because we won't be able to manage scrub'. He said:
It's really hard when we get these laws that have just been pushed through as a political football from the last election, affecting the livelihoods of businesses and the land.
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I know we are only borrowing the land and I want to make sure it's in a better condition when I pass it on to my grandchildren.
We recognise Mr Thompson's ability to manage his land and to be a good environmental custodian. But the Labor Party, with their mates in the Greens, have done a pre-preference deal arrangement. They've done a preference deal with these guys. They're going to, once again, screw over Queensland farmers and not let them manage their own land.
We've also learnt this week that the Labor Party wants to make the cattle industry carbon neutral. Those of us who know the cattle industry would know that each beast emits about 60 kilograms of methane a year. That's around 30 times potent in carbon dioxide. So each beast over its three-year average life, before it's slaughtered, would average around five tonnes of carbon dioxide. Modelling done by the respected economist Brian Fisher, who used to head up ABARES, shows that Labor's plans would need a carbon price of $300 a tonne. That means that Labor's plans would add $1,600 a head to every beast in this country—
Senator Williams interjecting—
which is more than their value—thanks, Wacka—most of the time. That would add about five to six bucks a kilo to your meat prices in your shops, so snags would go up double and mince would go up about 50 per cent under a Labor Party that doesn't back farmers and wants to put the bill on average Australian households.
Honourable senators interjecting—
As I was saying, Central Queensland, my area of the country, was devastated by fires last year. Indeed, I was down in Miriam Vale in the middle of the fires and almost everybody at the community centre came up to me and the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and the local member, Ken O'Dowd, and complained about the Queensland government's land-clearing laws and their inability to manage their own fuel on their properties to protect their own homes and their own families. These laws in Queensland are putting average Australians and their families at higher risk from bushfire because they can't even manage their own land. The Labor Party, without any understanding of any of this, because they don't go to Miriam Vale, want to impose that on the whole of Australia. It is absurd, and it is an insult to the farming communities of this country that they have not consulted them before adopting this policy.