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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6234

Mr JOHN COBB (8:10 PM) —I have a quick comment to make on drought: never before has the agriculture section in the budget papers referred to the cessation of drought programs. So I think it is pretty obvious where the minister is going on that one.

I would now like to touch on the minister’s real love, which is climate change. Because he often says that he could probably be referred to as the ‘assistant minister for climate change’, I draw his attention to the RIRDC report on the effects of his government’s proposed CPRS on agriculture. Despite the fact that it is a government report, it goes quite deeply into the effect of the scheme on agriculture, whether or not agriculture is included directly in the scheme. The effect is substantial. Cuts in income terms of up to or even over 22 per cent are severe—and I am sure that the minister would acknowledge that. In question time a couple of weeks ago, in answer to a dorothy dixer from your side to you, Minister—

Mr Burke —Questions without notice.

Mr JOHN COBB —I beg your pardon, Minister—you referred to the fact that agriculture was going to be in a terrible plight anyway as a result of climate change and that, if we did not fix it, the losses would be substantial. If it goes that way then of course you will be right. So I guess you belittled us because we felt that you were knocking agriculture—despite the 22 per cent cut, which is pretty significant in itself. But you neglected to mention the fact that, at this point in time, Australia is the only country in the world that is proposing a scheme which would have anything like this effect on agriculture, whether or not it is actually included in the scheme. So, in effect, are you not saying that Australian agriculture is going to be affected by climate change—in other words, less rainfall, less moisture—and that, on top of that, you are going to add 22 per cent in cuts that are man-made when no other country in the world is doing that?