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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 930

Dairy Industry

Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (14:23): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the minister outline to the House the importance of the Australian dairy industry to the economy and to hardworking Australian families across the country? What are the obstacles to the viability of this industry?

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for his question and note that one of the largest dairy farms is in the member's electorate. Dairy is an incredibly important industry to our nation, not only for our daily requirements but because it is worth about $13 billion a year and produces about 9.7 billion litres of milk. We have recently been getting a large step-up in the price of milk, which is very good, considering the support we have given during the dairy crisis. It is good to see things are now turning around, and so it should, with 6,000 dairy farmers employing around about 40,000 people directly.

Power is an incredibly important part of dairying, right from the milking sheds to irrigation. There are so many irrigators today, and I have noted that in the Burdekin and also around Bundaberg irrigators say that one of the major problems is the cost of power to actually lift water onto their crops. But there is also the cost of electricity for refrigeration and electric fences, and processing is a massive power cost. Retailers have massive power costs. In amongst that, on 1 July 2016 the Queensland Labor government increased power prices by 12 per cent. And in South Australia we saw that between 2010 and 2013, under a Labor government and under Labor Party policies, the daily house price of electricity went up by 100 per cent. A gentleman by the name of Steve Whan from the National Irrigators Council—he was formerly a Labor primary industry minister—has said that the high cost is putting incredible pressure on irrigation.

So the question is really: is the member for Maribyrnong, the Leader of the Opposition, going to go to the dispatch box and explain to the Australian people why he wants the Commonwealth of Australia to look like the state of South Australia? Why would he drive the economy of the nation of Australia to the same ludicrous outcome that we are currently seeing in South Australia? Why would he have as his premier policy something that will hurt the people in the seat of Lindsay, in the seat of Chifley, in the seat of Blair, in the seat of Parramatta, in the seat of Greenway, in the seat of Macquarie and in the seat of Herbert. The member for Shortland looks down at his notepad because he knows full well that this is absolutely designed to be prosecuted against the working people, the working men and women, of Shortland. And the member for Hunter knows that what he has is a government that has been absolutely hijacked by the Greens. They are more worried about Annandale, about Newtown, about Woolloomooloo than they are about the working men and women of Australia. You have all taken them for granted, but they are hearing it now, because as soon as the lights go out their love and their affection for Labor Party policy, as dictated by the Greens, falls to pieces.

We believe quite clearly. Now, are you going to talk about your power policy? (Time expired)