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Gillard Labor government will support Australia's agricultural industries into the future.



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Campaign Media Statement

MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

GILLARD LABOR GOVERNMENT WILL SUPPORT AUSTRALIA'S AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES INTO THE FUTURE

The Federal Labor Government’s vision for agriculture is to help farmers prepare for the challenges of the future.

Federal Labor has always believed that farmers are the best judge of what to do on their own land. The Gillard Labor Government will support farmers to plan their business but will not dictate what that strategy will be.

Into the future two of the greatest challenges for farmers will be globalisation and climate change. Australian farmers can be well positioned to deal with these pressures if we act now to improve productivity.

A Gillard Labor Government will do this by investing in research and development to allow farms to become more productive, by investing in an effective biosecurity system and by ensuring that our drought support system becomes much more than crisis management.

The Coalition consistently failed Australia’s farmers by failing to protect our industries from biosecurity threats, denying the reality of climate change and lacking the courage to take on essential reforms to set Australia’s agricultural industries up for continuing success.

During the past three years the Labor Government has delivered for farmers and primary producers. Into the future, a Gillard Labor Government will continue to deliver for regional communities and the agricultural sector.

Labor has increased access for Australian produce to markets across the world, including expanded market access for beef into Chile, the EU and Russia, restored market access for citrus to the EU and gained market access for Tasmanian cherries in Korea and Japan and apples into China.

The Gillard Labor Government also delivered important reform by giving farmers the choice of who buys their produce by abolishing the AWB monopoly. Labor has more than doubled the number of markets serviced by AWB to 41 countries through the reforms of our wheat exports system.

The Gillard Labor Government will also support beef producers in Northern Australia through the Northern Australian Beef Strategy. A taskforce will look at the

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risks and opportunities available to this important industry.

A National Food Plan

The Federal Labor Government will develop a National Food Plan, to better integrate food policy by looking at the food chain from the paddock to the plate.

We will look at how we can continue to grow more food, more sustainably and will consider domestic and international food security; food safety and nutrition; issues which affect food affordability; and the sustainability of our food systems, from producers on the land, through to food businesses, manufacturers and retailers.

Labor will also open up Australia’s Farming Future funding for food tourism businesses to help develop this growing sector and provide opportunities for all Australians to gain a greater understanding of local food and food production methods.

Support for Regional Australia

Labor supports regional communities and understands that regional communities are the backbone of our agricultural sector.

The Gillard Government is delivering for regional areas through record investment in infrastructure. Federal Labor has doubled the funding for road infrastructure and increased rail investment tenfold in year on year terms. In addition, Federal Labor is buliding the National Broadband Network, supporting regional jobs, and investing in affordable regional housing.

The National Broadband Network will create enormous opportunities for farmers and the agricultural sector. By investing in modern technology that will allow rural and regional businesses to become more productive and operate more effectively in regional and remote areas, Labor is delivering infrastructure that will continue to deliver for generations to come.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will develop Australia’s first national sustainable population strategy. For too long we have put buildings on top of our prime agricultural land. The strategy will look at this issue and at the sustainability of our resources, of our environment and of the quality of life that we enjoy.

Labor believes the key to understanding policy for a sustainable Australia begins with regional difference. There are parts of our country where there are already too many people and not enough jobs, and there are other parts where employers are in desperate need of workers.

To support workers to move to regional areas, Federal Labor will trial a relocation assistance package to help connect jobseekers with jobs in other parts of Australia. A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will offer assistance of $6,000 to unemployed Australians who relocate to regional areas to take up a job.

A re-elected Labor Government will invest a further $200 million to help boost affordable housing in regional cities, helping to build stronger regional economies and a more sustainable Australia.

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Through our Economic Stimulus Plan, the Federal Labor Government has protected thousands of jobs in rural and regional communities during the past two years by building regional infrastructure and by paying a Farmer’s Hardship Payment to help with the cost s of living. This is something we are proud of - and something that never would have happened if the Coalition had their way. The Coalition voted against our stimulus plan six times in the Parliament.

Local halls, libraries, playgrounds, sportsgrounds and clubhouses are being upgraded and built in our regional communities through programs such as the $1 billion Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.

Record investment of over $22 billion is also being made in our regional road and rail infrastructure. This infrastructure investment in regional Australia is unprecedented, and will better prepare regional Australia for future challenges.

Drought Reform

Drought reform has been a key achievement during the first term of the Gillard Government.

The Labor Government, in partnership with the Western Australian Government, is conducting a $23 million pilot of drought reform measures in part of Western Australia.

These reforms mean farmers will be supported to plan ahead to make their businesses more sustainable for the future, instead of having to wait until crisis hits before Government steps in.

Shamefully, the Coalition put drought reform in the too hard basket for years and barely addressed drought in their agriculture election policy.

FarmReady provides up to $1500 for primary producers and indigenous land managers to undertake training to further improve their farm practices and management. More than 10,000 Australian farmers have participated in training through the FarmReady grants.

Biosecurity

The Gillard Labor Government understands that a strong and effective biosecurity system is essential to the continued prosperity of Australia’s agricultural sector.

After 11 years of Coalition Government, the quarantine system was run down and in 2007, there was an outbreak of equine influenza.

Labor is building a stronger biosecurity system, which will help to protect our agricultural productivity and regional jobs. We have already delivered interim measures to help build a stronger biosecurity system with a focus on risk, while we continue to deliver on the long-term reforms outlined in the Beale Review.

The Government has agreed in-principle to all 84 recommendations in the Beale Review. Labor has invested $14.7m to build an IT system that helps 75 biosecurity information systems to talk to one another, and $20 million over four years to progress further reforms.

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Research and Development

Australia’s farmers and primary producers have a strong tradition of being innovative and adaptive to new challenges. Our agriculture sector is highly efficient and competitive in international markets.

With demand for food continuing to grow there is a great opportunity to take advantage of this demand by continuing to increase agricultural productivity.

The Gillard Labor Government understands that investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries.

The Coalition underfunded R&D during their 11 years of Government and committed less than half that of the Gillard Labor Government on discretionary R&D programs. The Coalition spent only $13.9 million on discretionary programs in 2007-08, compared to Labor’s $41.5 million in 2009-10.

While the Coalition Government consistently neglected the next generation of farmers, the Labor Government invested in Australia's young farmers and the future of the sector.

Landcare

Australia’s natural environment is a precious resource. We need to ensure that it is conserved and protected for future generations.

Australia's farmers are stewards of the land and they have been managing their land effectively and responsibly for decades.

That is why Labor supports natural resource management programs like Landcare and Caring for our Country where community groups work with landholders to achieve practical conservation outcomes.

The Gillard Labor Government has consistently increased funding for Landcare, investing $81.6 million on 630 local projects across the country. The increased funding reflects the Government’s strong support for Landcare and the 100,000 volunteers carrying out vital work in communities across the nation.

Caring for our Country is an important priority of the Government. Labor increased funding in the 2010-11 Budget to $423 million. More than $1.3 billion has been allocated to date to local, regional and nationally significant projects, including more than $455 million approved for projects in 2009-10. This includes more than $5 million which has been allocated to nearly 300 smaller, local community projects.

The Coalition doesn’t understand the importance of managing our natural resources and preparing for the future.

The Gillard Labor Government has acted during our first term of Government to ensure that we act early to protect our environmental resources for the future.

Labor has already taken action to help reduce chemical runoff to the Great Barrier Reef through improved farming practices under the $200 million Reef Rescue

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program.

We have delivered grants to more than 700 canegrowers and cattle farmers along the Queensland coast to help reduce nutrients and soil run-off and increase the profitability of farms at the same time.

This is a key achievement of the Gillard Labor Government and a practical example of Labor’s commitment to natural resource management.

Carbon Farming

The Gillard Labor Government’s new Carbon Farming Initiative will provide farmers with an opportunity to get a new income stream for putting carbon pollution back into the ground.

At present, there is no uniform way for farmers, forest growers or landholders to generate carbon credits and sell them into lucrative international markets.

There will be no restriction on the number of credits that can be generated, with initial conservative estimates suggesting it could be worth about $500 million over ten years.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will legislate clear rules for the recognition of carbon credits providing farmers, landholders and forestry growers with the tools to understand how to generate carbon credits for a wide range of farm practices from more efficient fertiliser use to farm forestry and changed feeding regimes for livestock.

Fisheries

Fishing is a crucial contributor to the life and livelihood of so many coastal communities from commercial fish harvesting to recreational fishing tourism.

The Gillard Labor Government has improved certainty for the fishing industry by reducing the number of commercially harvested stocks where the status of the stock was unknown.

Labor has also introduced legislation to reduce the cost of fisheries management to Australian fishers and developed a recreational fishing industry strategy.

The Government takes a hard line against illegal fishing. Illegal fishing impacts on the income of Australian fishers and the sustainability of our fisheries. The Government maintains rigorous ongoing surveillance and enforcement to preserve the integrity and security of our borders, including by deterring illegal fishing and thereby protecting Australian jobs and our environment.

The Gillard Labor Government has also provided $2.5 million through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, to research the decline in fish stocks and possible solutions for Australia’s most valuable fishery, Western Rock Lobster.

Under the Coalition, Australia’s fisheries suffered:  rising unemployment and job losses in the fishing industry;  declining gross value production and profitability; and

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 rising imports, declining exports and inadequate planning for climate change.

Forestry

The Gillard Labor Government supports Australia’s timber communities.

Labor supports Regional Forest Agreements including extensions for agreements where the requirements are fully met so that businesses can make long term investment decisions.

The Labor Government has invested in 20 projects worth $6.5 million through the Forest Industries Development Fund to encourage value adding and improve international competitiveness of forest products and employment opportunities in Australia.

We have also invested $4.8 million through the Forest Industries Climate Change Research Fund to help industry better prepare for the impacts of climate change. This will help the industry build capacity to adapt to predicted scenarios and to benefit from the reductions in carbon pollution well managed forests provide.

Critically, Labor understands the threat from illegal timber. Labor has committed to introduce laws to restrict the importation of illegally logged timber. These laws will make it a criminal offence to import any timber products into Australia which have not been legally harvested.

The Gillard Labor Government is also committed to supporting farm forestry. Farm forestry can provide farmers with an alternative source of income. It can improve agricultural production by providing shelter and can provide substantial environmental benefits such as salinity control.

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)

The Gillard Labor Government has announced reforms to improve the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia through the APVMA.

Delivering on these reforms will help to protect human health, improve environmental protections and cut red tape for farmers and business.

These reforms will ensure an effective APVMA that would deliver better health outcomes for Australians. They will allow the APVMA to better monitor chemicals in Australia, ensuring that clean, green chemicals are able to develop quickly and easily while maintaining a top level of protection for our health.

A key focus will be on the efficient assessment of lower-risk agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals while ensuring that higher-risk agvet chemicals are assessed appropriately.

The Gillard Labor Government will ensure that the APVMA is adequately resourced. Additional funding of $5 million per year for three years will ensure that the APVMA can effectively protect human health and the environment.

Alternatively, the Coalition oversaw a cumbersome and inefficient system of regulating agvet chemicals in Australia. After years of underfunding, it failed to make significant progress in cutting red tape for farmers and failed to deliver a vital

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risk management framework for the assessment of agvet chemicals.

Water

The Gillard Labor Government will build on its strong record of making our rivers sustainable and will provide certainty for farmers reliant on the Murray Darling Basin.

If re-elected, we will bridge any remaining gap between what has been returned and what is required to be returned by the independent Murray Darling Basin Authority. We will continue our practice of purchasing from willing sellers.

The Gillard Labor Government will continue to roll out $4.4 billion in new, efficient irrigation systems under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program. This is upgrading leaky, old infrastructure in the Basin - so farmers can keep growing food with less water.

17 AUGUST 2010

COMMUNICATIONS UNIT: Phone: (02) 9384 2220 | Fax: (02) 9264 2213 www.alp.org.au

AUTHORISED N.MARTIN for the ALP, 5/9 Sydney Ave. Barton ACT.