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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6222

Mr NEUMANN (7:14 PM) —I have some questions for the Minister for Trade. It is interesting that I have been joined here by the member for Page, because the first job that I had in life was as a cleaner in a meatworks at Dinmore. I still have my AMIEU union membership ticket. I understand that the member for Page also worked in the beef industry at the same meatworks. I am not quite sure if it was at the same time. My question relates to the beef industry and exports, because that is a very big issue in my electorate. In my electorate we have a number of meatworks, including the biggest kangaroo meatworks at Wulkuraka. But there is beef production as well. There is a meatworks in the Lockyer Valley that produces meat for domestic consumption and also one at Church Hill in Ipswich that does the same. At Dinmore, they kill about 18,500 beasts a week for export overseas, and thousands of workers work at that plant. There have been some issues there over the last year in relation to 457 visas.

The workforce down there is very important. It is part of the 121,000 workers who work in the beef industry in Australia. The continued production and distribution of beef exports is very important for my electorate of Blair. Thousands of families in my electorate rely upon contracts overseas, on our free trade agreements and on the multilateral agreements that we engage in with respect to South-East Asia. We export beef all across the world: to Muslim countries, to Europe, to Asia and to the Americas. It is always very important, Minister, that we ensure the free flow of trade. It is particularly important at this time of global financial crisis. Particularly with the global recession, the workers in my electorate of Blair very much want to know about the viability of the beef export industry.

In particular, Minister, I would like you to outline if you could the efforts of the Cairns Group with respect to securing outcomes that enhance the export of beef and the opportunities for beef producers, such as the farmers in my electorate. Geographically, 95 per cent of my electorate is rural. They are very interested in this. Beef production is very important. The farms are mainly in south-east Queensland, but beef comes from all over Australia to Dinmore, where the workers slaughter the beasts and from there export them. Can you outline for me and for the benefit of my constituents the efforts that you are making and the efforts that the Cairns Group is making to secure outcomes so that we have a ready supply of export markets available? That is very important at this time for the employment prospects of my constituents but also for the economic future of our country.