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Monday, 19 September 2011
Page: 10692


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (22:01): I oppose this AQIS export service rebate motion. In the four years I have been in this place I have seen some conservative claptrap and Tory tosh but this motion takes the cake. Those opposite take credit for school funding in their electorates when they came into this place and opposed it under BER. They take credit for roads and community infrastructure in their electorates when they opposed it under the Nation Building and Jobs Plan we have had. Now we have the member for Wannon taking credit for $25.8 million when they have not even supported it. They finally came grudgingly to the table and now say they support it. They are taking credit for it when they did not actually support it in the first place. They say one thing here and go back to their electorates and say another thing.

This motion is such a waste. We could be doing so much good. We have had a motion this evening about a national disability insurance scheme. We have had bipartisan support for that scheme. There are motions on lots of important issues. This is such rubbish.

The coalition has grudgingly now come to the party and announced it will support the regulations that underpinned the reform. This has been a collective effort between industry and the federal Labor government. On 5 September we announced that we would implement the Australian Export Meat Inspection System from 1 October 2011. We have provided $25.8 million in transitional assistance. I did not see that budgeted in the coalition's $11 billion black hole when they were wanting to come into government before the last election. I did not hear them talking about that at any stage. As a number of speakers from this side have said, we have invested $127.5 million over three years for export certification reforms and, as the member for Page said, $85 million in export certification rebates.

This motion tonight is another example of the coalition's constant carping, moaning and bleating. They give the impression that something is wrong when in fact it is not. The government and industry are working together to build regional jobs and support the industries that previous speakers on the opposite side have talked about by cutting red tape and getting rid of prescriptive rules—making sure we get rid of the bureaucracy—and making sure our agricultural, horticultural and meat export industries are as efficient and effective as they possibly can be.

The member for Calare has form. He was rolled by the Liberals with respect to the dangerous legislation to ban New Zealand apples, which would have put at risk Australia's $32 billion agricultural exports industry. Now he is looking around for a degree of relevance, so he has put forward this motion. The only risk to the meat industry in this country is from those opposite. This is typical of the National Party. We are used to it in Queensland. When they get back to their electorates they are all sympathetic and sensitive but down here they will follow the Liberals mindlessly. That is exactly what they are like. We have made a big difference in this industry. It is an industry that is particularly important in my electorate, because I have meatworks such as Kilcoy, which supports about 750 jobs; Coominya; Churchill, a small meatworks which deals mainly with domestic work; and, of course, the largest meat processing plant in the country, owned by JBS Australia, at Dinmore, where I started my working life as a cleaner. The CEO, John Berry, who is a member of the Australian government's meat ministerial task force, has informed me that, as of 1 October this year, JBS will implement the Australian Meat Inspection System, AEMIS, in 11 processing sites across the country. Under the current certification system, JBS would have paid $15 million in AQIS inspection charges. Under the new model, with the $20 million three-year assistance package, they will pay $9 million.

The minister is conducting similar consultations with various sectors. These reforms will take place sector by sector. The member for Calare has been informed of this. Once again, he is playing politics. He is trying to drive the wrecking ball of negativity from those opposite through our reforms. Those opposite are simply miffed that Australia's meat exporters, whom they believe should be their good mates, colleagues and comrades, are negotiating and making arrangements with a federal Labor government. It is all about the Nationals over there and the Liberals from the country areas being miffed that their people are dealing with a federal Labor government.

The meat exporters overwhelmingly support the outcome announced by the minister in early September. The member for Calare has come to the party. He now says he will support it. But you would not know that if you listened to the drivel he was going on with. There is mindless negativity stamped all over this motion. When it comes to good policy, those opposite have been found wanting on this motion and on so many others. Of course, this motion is from the same people who stripped millions of dollars out of the biosecurity system when they sold off Australia's post-entry quarantine facilities in 2001 and then leased them back. This federal Labor government is committed to reforming our biosecurity system because we know that regional Australians rely on a strong biosecurity system for their livelihood. It is obvious that the previous coalition government was more committed to eroding the national asset base.

Under the watch of members opposite a string of foreign pests invaded Australia—pests that continue to plague numerous parts of my home state. Now my constituents now find their livelihoods under threat from the Asian honey bees, fire ants and equine influenza. In 2007, then Prime Minister John Howard admitted they had been warned about changes to the quarantine laws which would allow equine flu into the country. The Leader of the Nationals, a previous agriculture minister, received letters from the Australian Racing Board warning of the potential dangers in 2004 and 2005. So those opposite, when it comes to a whole range of agricultural industries—horticulture, racing, a whole host of areas—have failed.

I cannot count the number of speeches I have heard from National Party members opposite in which they have rabbited on about honey bees, but the truth is those opposite did nothing to eradicate them when they were in power. It is their policy, they say, to return to full recovery with respect to this particular issue, but they are bereft of ideas on how to do it. They might as well throw the—

Mr Haase: Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek to intervene to ask a question.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs D'Ath ): Is the member for Blair willing to give way?

Mr NEUMANN: I do not wish to take the question, Madam Deputy Speaker. Those opposite have not given any indication of how they would fund the 40 per cent AQIS export rebate that the member for Calare was talking about. Perhaps it is going to be thrown into the $70 billion black hole, or maybe the $11 billion black hole they had at the last election. As I said, they have cobbled together this motion to distract us from the fact that they did nothing during the 11½ years there were in power to address the failures in Australia's biosecurity system. And they have done nothing in opposition. They are a policy-free zone on this issue—not just policy-free, but funding-free, because they have not come up with any ideas as to how they would fund any of these sorts of things. Since becoming the shadow spokesperson, the member for Calare has not put forward a single proposal—not one proposal—for how to make AQIS's service delivery more efficient. Those opposite are not fair dinkum about supporting our initiatives for export certification reforms. Why? Because good policy is something that is entirely gone from their agenda. They have no interest in it. Motions like this clearly show that that is the case. We are doing work with the industry, and on 6 September—let's talk about the facts, not the fiction—Gary Burridge from the Australian Meat Industry Council and the minister announced a new regulatory reform for meat exports: the Australian Meta Export Inspection System, which would be implemented on 1 October 2011 along with, as I mentioned before, the $25.8 million in Australian government funding to support the transition to new arrangements. The industry supported it. AMIC, Gary Burridge, the chair of the ministerial task force, said, 'AMIC will work closely with the Australian government as we implement the new system.'

That is what it is all about. They hate the fact that people they believe belong to them are working with the federal Labor government. That is what this motion is all about. It is an attempt by the member for Calare to be relevant. They hate the fact that an industry that they feel should be supporting them is working with the federal Labor government. I oppose the motion.