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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12225

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (19:26): This is a motion that is close to my heart. I grew up in a dairy industry area on the north coast of New South Wales. Overwhelmingly, the main industry in that area was dairy farming. In addition to that, my father-in-law was a dairy farmer. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt a couple of times simply because of the hardship involved in dairy farming. The times when he really struggled were not under a Labor government but under a Liberal-National Party government.

There have been many reforms over the years within the dairy industry. As I said, I came from the Mid North Coast of New South Wales and at that particular time there were two separate systems operating. There was the quota system and there were areas like the area I lived in that fell outside the quota system.

If you were in the quota system you are much better looked after financially than if you were in the non-quota area that I grew up in. I had many friends who lived on dairy farms and I watched them and their parents struggle through the years. Some of them managed to survive, but some of them actually had to leave their farms. I think this is indicative of what happened throughout Australia. Over the years, technology has changed and methods of farming have changed; the way people buy and use milk and the way it is supplied—the whole process from farm gate to the supermarket—has changed.

I hate to admit to this, but when I was a young girl we used to have the milkman delivering the milk and cream to our house in the billy can. The father of my best friend at the time used to drive the milk truck and he would go around collecting milk from all the farms in the area I lived in. If you compare that to what has happened today you can see that there has been such a phenomenal change within the industry. Because of that change, in many ways many dairy farmers have been marginalised. We are getting bigger concerns and fewer dairy farmers.

My father-in-law ran a little country farm and he was very embracing of new technologies. He introduced milking machines, which were very new in his area. He introduced technology into his farming that was very scientifically based. But, even doing those sorts of things, he was not able to succeed because there were so many other variables that impacted upon his small dairy farm. My husband and his siblings look back on that time as the best time of their lives. They talk about going to school on the milk truck and all those things that we as a nation have lost.

Today we are talking about dairy farming in a totally different way. We are looking to ensure that a little bit of our history manages to survive, and part of that history is that small dairy farm that is situated in the hills around the town that I lived in and along the river flats. As much as I hate to say it, that is nearly a thing of the past, as are so many things that have changed in our society. I support our dairy farmers, I support our farmers, I support the enormous contribution that they have made to our country and I support the role that they have played in our history. I think that the person I am today and the knowledge that I bring to this parliament have been influenced by the contribution made to our country by dairy farmers. (Time expired)