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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13296


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (12:26): I thank the chamber for its cooperation in allowing me to speak at this time. It was a very early start getting here from rural Victoria this morning. I appreciate it and thank the chamber for being lenient in that regard. I start by congratulating Nola Marino, the member for Forrest, for this wonderful motion. It is a fantastic motion and one that all members of this House should take particular note of. Our rural producers are hurting. From what we have heard today, I think it is true right across the country, whether it be from the member for Forrest's electorate in Western Australia, whether it be from New South Wales, whether it be from Queensland or whether it be from the Northern Territory or the Deputy Speaker's own home state of Tasmania. All the feedback and information I am getting at the moment is that it is very hard for our farmers to make a living.

There are three issues on which I think we as federal parliamentarians can make immediate steps to address the problem. This should go to the heart of this motion by the member for Forrest. The first issue is that we have to put downward pressure on interest rates so that we put downward pressure on the dollar. What is the best way we can do that? We have had the four biggest budget deficits in Australia's history in the last four years. We have to get our budget under control because if we get our budget under control it means the Reserve Bank can bring interest rates down so that internationally they are comparable and we will not see money coming into this country and keeping the dollar as high as it is. We have to put downward pressure on the dollar, and as federal parliamentarians what is the best way we can do it? The best way is to end wasteful Wayne's reckless spending. That is the first thing we have to do. The second thing we have to do is get rid of the carbon tax. Whether we like it or not, it has to go to help our farmers. I will give you a couple of examples. In the dairy industry this year alone, on the government's own modelling, each dairy farmer will have a minimum of a $5,000 hit to their bottom line. If you talk to the dairy farmers in my electorate—some of which are larger producers—you are looking at that being $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 in some instances. In the south-west community, if you take $5,000 income from every dairy farmer, you are taking it off the towns and communities in the electorate as well. We are starting to see it.

The service businesses to our agricultural sector are hurting because the extra money that farmers would spend in local communities is not occurring. When did that start? It happened post-30 June, with the implementation of the carbon tax. Talk to the Murray-Goulburn or talk to Fonterra. The direct hit from the carbon tax on them is bigger. What has happened to their international competitors? They are not being hit by it. We have two issues to start with.

The third issue that we need to address is access to overseas markets. We have to make sure that our farmers can sell their produce and that they can sell it as efficiently and effectively as possible. We have to double our efforts to bring down the tariffs, bring down the duties and bring down the trade barriers behind the border which impact on our agricultural exports. They are the three areas where we as federal parliamentarians can make an immediate impact to help our local farmers.

The message of this excellent motion by the member for Forrest is that farmers are hurting. Our regional and rural communities are suffering. We need to take action and there are three quick ways we can do that. Let's hope that the government is listening and has heard the message of this motion: get rid of the carbon tax, drive the dollar down through stopping the reckless spending, and get us increased access to overseas markets.

Debate adjourned.