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Coalition fails agriculture sector

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Campaign Media Release

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbon


Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbon today slammed the Coalition for offering up policies that are light on vision for Australia’s agriculture sector.

“After being caught out failing to provide the Liberal Nationals’ agriculture policies to the National Farmers Federation, the Coalition has come late to the party today announcing policies that are a pale imitation of those delivered by Labor,” Minister Fitzgibbon said.

“After being missing in action for the entire campaign, the Coalition’s Agriculture Spokesperson John Cobb’s ‘big announcements’ for agriculture today fail the vision test by a country mile.

“At Mr Cobb’s policy launch, there was not a single mention of our biggest export market - Asia. Not a word about securing new well-paid agriculture jobs or making the most of the ‘Dining Boom’. And absolutely zero about investment in skills and driving workforce productivity.

“National’s Leader Warren Truss contribution hasn’t been any better. He too has failed to outline the Coalition’s vision for regional Australia’s future. And failed to outline how a Tony Abbott led Government would create jobs in regional Australia and build a tech-savvy agriculture sector.

“Enticing people to the bush with a payment will do nothing of there’s no jobs and no career path when they arrive.

“The Coalition has again shown they have no plan to help Australia transition from the Mining Boom. Only Labor will build for the future by investing in new industries and new jobs in the agriculture sector.

“Maybe the Coalition is too distracted by the behind-the-scenes battle between the Nationals and Liberals as to who gets Agriculture Minister if Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister, to take the time to develop decent policies,” Minister Fitzgibbon said.

A detailed comparison of the Coalition and Labor’s agriculture policies are outlined in the appendix below.


29 AUGUST 2013

The difference in agriculture policies is clear:

*This table represents Labor’s previously announced agriculture policies.


A vision for the future No clear direction, just vague language.

Labor has embraced a big vision for agriculture through its comprehensive ‘Australia in the Asian Century White Paper’ and ‘National Food Plan’ strategies, along with a number of other policies promoting skills and jobs, and setting a goal of increasing food productivity by 45% by 2020 to tap into the Asian Dining Boom.

Labor win

Free trade and market access

$30m for ‘exports’, including $15 million in the form of rebates to small exporters for Export Certification registration costs.

Labor’s $28.5 million Asian Food Markets Research Fund will drive market access, ensuring Australian producers and distributors are exporting food on equal terms with our global competitors.

Labor has established the $60 million Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Forum that will strengthen the Australian-Indonesia export and beef trade relationship.

Labor win

Food security and the National Food Plan

Warrant Truss acknowledged that “people have to eat” in his speech today. .

Labor has a $42 million National Food Plan - our road map for a competitive and sustainable food future.

It’s the blueprint which will boost Australia’s $30.5 billion food export market by 45% by 2025.

The key investments include:  $28.5 million to establish an Asian Food Markets Research Fund.  $5.6 million to build our food trade

ties and strengthen our relationships with  trading partners in key and emerging markets.  $2.2 million in new funding to

identify, understand and respond to Asia’s  emerging food needs and preferences.  $2 million in new funding to

develop a brand for Australian food that promotes  purchases of our high quality products;  $1.5 million in new funding to

support community gardens, farmers markets.

Labor win


$100 million over next four years for RDCs.

The Rudd Labor Government will deliver close to $1 billion over the next four years to RDCs. We have already provided around $1.4 billion in funding over the last six years.

Under Labor, funding to RDCs has increased from $189 million in 2008-09 to $251 million in 2013-14.

Labor has also support for agriculture research increase through real funding increases to universities and research institutions through the Australian Research Council and related grants.

Labor win


“Three vital agricultural CRCs - Beef Genetics, Cotton Catchment Communities and Forestry - have all been abolished under Labor.”

The Nationals comments are disingenuous.

They know that CRCs are for a fixed term only - the existing CRC system was set up under the Coalition.

Research and innovation doesn’t mean picking winners. CRCs are chosen on a merit basis by experts.

Labor win

Skills and workforce development


Food production, processing and services industry already employs over 1.6 million Australians, but we know that there is a skills shortage in the

Labor win


While the Coalition has no plan to invest in skills and human capital and drive workforce productivity, Labor has developed this plan to help attract enthusiastic and capable workers into the food sector, which has plenty of well-paid, interesting and challenging jobs.” Labor will:

 Create 20 Trade Training Centres in rural and regional Australia with an agriculture focus. These would be sourced from Round five phase two of Labor’s highly successful Trade Training Centre initiative

 Establish a national, online Agriculture and Food Jobs Board. This means job opportunities in every town, city and region of Australia can be seen with just the click of a mouse

 Invest $6.5 million into a targeted Aussie Food Jobs campaign, made up of at least 20 Agriculture & Food Jobs Expos in capital cities and regional centres across Australia. The expos will be supported by a marketing drive developed in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation, based on Labor’s successful model for mainstream jobs expos which have already placed 30,000 Australians in jobs.


Allocate $2 million dollars over four years to assist with the integration of agriculture into school curriculums.

The Food in the Australian Curriculum initiative already helps Australian students better connect with food, understand where food and fibre comes from and appreciate the important role of primary producers.

Labor will also deliver an extra $5.4 million over the next three years through the Department of Health to the successful Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program. The program has seen 35,000 kids getting into horticulture in 324 schools across Australia.

Labor win


$20 million to strengthen biosecurity When it comes to biosecurity, $20m is a drop in the ocean, and it’s replicating

Labor win

and quarantine, establish a Biosecurity Flying Squad as a first response unit and create a first response biosecurity and containment fund to tackle alien pest and disease incursions.

Labor policy.

Just look at $20m Community Weed Funding, researching new bio control agents to tackle Weeds of National Significance and co-ordinating strategic weed management.

Or the $65m to help the states and territories to eradicate new pest incursions.

There’s also no funding for biosecurity infrastructure, while Labor will invest half a billion dollars in over the forward estimates, including:  $379.9 million to deliver a state-of-

the-art post entry quarantine facility in Victoria  $124.5 million for core risk response capability and external

review and verification processes;  $19.8 million over three years for biosecurity information and

communication technology infrastructure and systems.

Who can forget how run down biosecurity was under the Coalition. Under the Howard years:  white spot disease in prawns in

Darwin in 2000  black sigatoka in bananas in 2001  fire ants in 2001

 small hive beetle affecting bees in 2002  citrus canker and a poorly managed investigation into its

source in 2004  sugar cane smut in 2006  equine influenza in August 2007


$8m to fast-track the registration of ‘minor-use’ chemicals

This is a move in the wrong direction. Labor’s put in place reform to better protect human and environmental health.

Only the Coalition would go back to the future on chemical safety.

The current registration scheme isn’t a regulatory burden. It’s protecting the environment. It’s protecting farmers. It’s protecting Australians.

Labor win

Farm Finance

Nothing Labor understands that farmers face

climate and market condition challenges that are often out of their control.

That is why Labor is delivering $420

Labor win

million in low-interest loans would be made available to help viable farmers in every state and the Northern Territory to improve cash flow and ease debt pressures.

Federal Labor’s Farm Finance Package also included $5.9 million over two years to provide 17 additional, full-time rural financial counsellors, who will help farm families make decisions about their future.

Landcare $4million over the next four year for the National Landcare Network to co-ordinate community Landcare groups

Labor has dedicated $30million over the next five years solely for Landcare groups.

It includes money for on-the-ground work, co-ordination and promotional activities for Landcare. Unlike the Coalition’s vague announcement, Labor is providing more funding, for longer, with the policy detail to back it up.

This is just one part of Labor’s Caring For Our Country Program $2.1b program which the Coalition continues to oppose and Greg Hunt calls to be ‘refocussed’.

Labor win