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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 8999

Carbon Pricing


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:49): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Ludwig. Can the minister explain why the government did not conduct modelling to determine the average increased electricity cost to farmers from the carbon tax and whether its compensation package would cover these costs? Given that farming is an industry that generates $155 billion a year in production, underpinning 12.1 per cent of GDP, why has the government neglected this fundamental sector of Australia's economy?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:50): Far from neglecting this area, the government has had its Carbon Farming Initiative, which is part of the Gillard government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and building resilience in farmers to deal with the impact of climate change. Part of that is that the initiative will allow farmers to generate carbon credits and new earning opportunities through a range of activities.

Only last week one of those visits to a piggery was about doing exactly that—using effluence to provide and generate carbon credits. One of the challenges from those opposite is that they have refused to get on board where the rural community is already getting on board. Consultation with stakeholders has indicated overwhelming support for the objectives of the Carbon Farming Initiative. Going back to that piggery, the farmers themselves significantly indicated that they were looking for low-carbon pork to go onto the market because they wanted to participate—

Senator Brandis: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. As you know, the minister is required to be directly relevant to the question. The question asked why the government had neglected to model the farming sector for the carbon tax. That was the only topic of the question—why there had been no modelling of the farming sector for the carbon tax. I ask you to bring the minister to the question.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, on the point of order: no minister is more attentive to answering the question than Senator Ludwig. He is attempting to provide Senator Nash with a comprehensive answer to her question. He is being directly relevant and is trying to assist the Senate with information. I ask you to rule that there is no point of order.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister is answering the question. The minister has 52 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator LUDWIG: In dealing with how we ensure that farmers can take up the Carbon Farming Initiative and providing opportunities to use less electricity—

Senator Nash: It's not about electricity.

Senator LUDWIG: I use the term electricity because generation costs are a significant issue to rural and regional Australia, including to farmers. That is why the Carbon Farming Initiative—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: I am sorry you do not want to hear. Clearly you are not representing your own National Party cohorts, because the $1.7 billion land sector package announced as part of the securing a clean energy future package will help to support landholders to participate in the Carbon Farming Initiative. It will also help to establish markets for the Carbon Farming Initiative and credits to protect— (Time expired)









Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:53): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that he failed to answer the previous question, could the minister now confirm whether the government considered the impact of the carbon tax on farming and food production, specifically with respect to the national food plan?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:53): I see we have now moved from carbon farming into the national food plan. The national food plan is the first ever initiative of its type. No-one from the other side contemplated putting together a whole-of-government initiative around food.

Senator Nash: Mr President, on a point of order on relevance: I specifically asked the minister if he had considered the impact of the carbon tax with regard to the food plan—specifically, the impact.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has 29 seconds remaining. There is no point of order at this stage.

Senator LUDWIG: In relation to the national food plan, those opposite have failed to recognise, firstly, that we produced an issues paper and asked for information from stakeholders and those interested. Those opposite were completely uninterested in it because they are not interested in rural and regional Australia. We then announced a green paper-white paper process. There will be an opportunity for them— (Time expired)





Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:55): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister explain how the government will guarantee adequate compensation to farming families when an emissions trading scheme takes place in 2015 and the carbon price fluctuates according to the market?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:55): It is more than those opposite have ever done for regional and rural Australia. Regional Australia will play a vital role. The difficulty is that they do not want to hear it. They have closed their minds and they have closed their ears to it. They are neglecting their own constituencies, whereas the Labor government will invest $4.3 billion in regional Australia—

Senator Carr: How much?

Senator LUDWIG: $4.3 billion in investments in the 2011-12 budget to drive improvements in regional hospitals and to help education facilities and community and transport infrastructure. That is what this government is doing. When those on the other side were in government they neglected it. Why? Because the Nationals kept getting rolled by the Liberal Party—and they were happy to be rolled. The Nationals are now bringing forward their own policies, but they will again get rolled by the Liberals. (Time expired)