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Stone calls on Minister for Agriculture to resign.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Stone calls on Minister for Minister for Agriculture to resign

Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone said conditions as a result of Rudd Government policies were now so bad she called on the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to resign, as she spoke on the Rural Adjustment Amendment Bill in parliament last week.

“Minister Tony Burke has let the future of Australia’s agricultural industry down with a series of poor government policies and shut downs,” Dr Stone said.

“After 7 years of drought, Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water is triumphant about the billions of dollars the Government will spend to buy back water from so called ‘willing to sell’ farmers. This is one of the most cynical of exercises. Farmers have little option but to sell their water as the banks and other lenders lean on them. Meanwhile, the environment continues to be water stressed until it rains.

“Irrigated agriculture in this country right throughout the Murray Darling Basin is now contracting. No-one is researching or monitoring this contraction and how it affects local and national wealth and food supplies.

“Minister Burke has not addressed the fact that the dairy industry is on its knees with prices paid to the producers well below the costs of production. Australian dairy manufacturers also face extra subsidies in on their export markets. The Manufactured fruit industry is in similar strife.

“We are now competing with highly subsidised products from the EU and USA in the export market. With 18 months of support the dairy industry could be given breathing space, but the Minister has ignored this industry completely.”

“Meanwhile the car industry and the retail sector have been bailed out.

“An Australian owned diary company has begged to have a discussion with Minister Wong about how the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will affect them and they too have been ignored.

“ Minister Burke has failed to represent the Horticultural sector in the Award Modernization process leaving producers with increased costs. The change removes the award based piece rate system and reverts to an hourly rate with penalty payments for weekend work.


“One wonders whether the minister understands fruit and vegetables needed to be picked at their prime, no matter what day of the week.

“To add fuel to the fire, the North- South pipeline to Melbourne, which has gone ahead based on wrong or missing calculations will take 75 giga-litres of water out of the Eildon Dam. The dam is at less then 12 percent of its capacity, which in real terms equates to only 3 percent availability,”

“This pipeline is going to cost tax payers at least $1 billion and not provide any extra water security to Melbourne. Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, needs to step up to the plate and tell Premier Brumby to obey Federal directives instead of leaving the people of Northern Victoria to become permanently droughted,” Dr Stone said.

“The Labor Government has a complete disinterest in rural industries as large employers and export earners. Minister Burke has failed to stand up for the dairy, horticulture and other primary producing sectors and appears willing to allow Australian agriculture to go to the wall leaving us without a secure domestic supply of quality food.”

“Minister Burke needs to focus on his portfolio constituency instead of making weak jokes in parliament at the expense of farmers and farming community. There is a lot at stake,” Dr Stone said.

Media enquiries: Jo Shannon 0417 148 110