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Address on the occasion of DrumMuster 10 millionth drum recipient: Aquip Field Days, Gunnedah.

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21 AUGUST 2007

. Mayor of Gunnedah, Gae Swain, and Deputy Mayor, Steve Smith, . Parliamentarians, state and federal . Wayne Cornish, chair of the Industry Waste Reduction Advisory Committee, . Mike Goodyer, DrumMuster National Business Manager, . Distinguished guests, . Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning. Marlena and I thank you for your warm welcome.

May I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Gunn-e-darr people of the Kamilaroi tribe, and all Aboriginal Australians who have nurtured our great continent for tens of thousands of years.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Gunnedah, one of the richest and most diverse agricultural regions in Australia.

Indeed, it is a region which reminds us of the economic importance of the rural industry to our nation: an industry which, according to recent ABARE data, predicts farm export earnings will rise by over 3 per cent to $28.1 billion in 2007-08.

The Gunnedah shire devotes some 402,484 hectares to agriculture, which in turn generates income of $120 million per annum. So it is a fitting location for the nation's premier rural industry field day.

What makes the AgQuip Field Day, now in its 35th year, so very popular is the way in which it binds the rural and business community closer together both in a pragmatic and social sense.

There are 650 exhibitors here - representing more than 2,500 companies - who will showcase the very latest in agricultural machinery and innovation during the next three days.

And we have much to showcase. The nation's rural industry is one of the world's leaders in developing new technologies and methods to improve the way we work the land - for example, underground drip irrigation on raised beds for some crops; high tech irrigation and nutrient supply systems for orchards; alley farming; contour ploughing; tree planting; crop and animal diversification; limited till sowing. I could go on.

It is no wonder this field day is expected to attract about 100,000 visitors from throughout regional NSW and beyond. They are here to seek out the best ideas, the best machinery and the best equipment, for the best price, in what many describe as the ultimate "rural supermarket".

Equally important, the AgQuip Field Day represent a wonderful social network for a community whose individuals often live in remote or isolated areas. It is a time for long-distance neighbours to meet and greet; it is a time for agricultural business and clients to share their views and knowledge in a friendly, bustling environment.

It is a time, I hope, for regional Australians to deservedly kick up their heels a little.

Ladies and gentlemen, in keeping with that innovative and celebratory atmosphere, I have great pleasure in making a very special presentation today.

This month, the DrumMuster program, which collects and recycles used drums and chemicals containers around the country, took delivery of its 10 millionth drum.

And this is taking place in Gunnedah where the DrumMuster program all began.

DrumMuster continues this great tradition of innovation in the Australian rural industry. It is a marvellous operation which has been running now for eight years, and provides an environmentally responsible, economic way for farmers and producers across Australia to dispose of, or recycle, their chemical containers.

I think the reason DrumMuster has been so successful is because it is a wonderful example of no- nonsense, grassroots action by those on the ground - the Australian Local Government Association, CropLife Australia, Animal Health Alliance (Australia), the National Farmers' Federation, the Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association, and you, the farmers, the graziers, the local businesses.

Such a cooperative, voluntary joint venture - no legislation, no government instruction - has not only seen our rural citizens disposing of these containers in a sensible way, but encouraged manufacturers to find new and innovative ways to reduce the amount of packaging at the source. These include new packaging technologies, developing new formulations such as water soluble sachets, gel packs and granules, and encouraging the use of bulk or re-fillable containers.

And what has happened to those 10 million drums? Instead of lying out in the open paddocks, or being burned or buried or taken to the tip for landfill, they are now reused, or recycled into new products. More than 13,000 tonnes of waste plastic and metal to date has been recycled into items such as irrigation pipes or plastic bins.

This has led to our environment being significantly protected from the threat of chemical leaks into soils and water supplies, with its consequent risk to livestock and people.

In a world where our environmental behaviour is crucial to the future prosperity of our planet; as we tackle the emerging threats of global warming, water shortages, climate shifts, droughts, the degradation of soils and waterways through salinity, and as more people look to ways and means of reducing their own carbon footprint, the DrumMuster program is a tangible, pragmatic and successful environmental and cost-saving operation.

Our nation's producers acknowledge that to continue to be viable, they must care for our country in a responsible and long-term way. And DrumMuster helps them do it.

10 million drums! What an achievement.

And I thank all of you who have contributed to the DrumMuster program.

In particular, the regional consultants who travel widely to talk to farmers, farming groups, local councils, waste operators and recyclers; who engage the local community in promoting the times for collection and assistance in that collection. And who continue at all opportunities, to spread the word.

Around half of Australia's farmers and farm chemical users now deliver their drums to a drumMUSTER compound. This is a good result, given the short time the program has been in operation.

But let's see if we can double that result - in half the time - by doing our bit to spread the DrumMuster


And now, most importantly, to the deliverer of that 10 millionth drum, Mr John Powell, who grows cane in Mackay. John has played a major role in raising the environmental standards of the cane industry. Mr Powell has won an all expenses paid trip for two to the field day of his choice, anywhere in Australia.

Well done Mr Powell and thankyou for your diligence and care. Your actions will help leave a clean, safe and lasting legacy for rural Australia.

It is now my pleasure to present you with this special award marking this very pleasing milestone. Congratulations.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. And my best wishes to you all.