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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1940


Mr BROAD (Mallee) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture. I refer to the release today of the terms of reference for the agricultural competitiveness white paper. Will Australia's most passionate agriculture minister advise the House what the government is doing to build a more competitive and profitable future for Australian agriculture?

The SPEAKER: I call the Minister for Agriculture—and he might leave the passion out of it!

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandMinister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (15:03): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I cannot help being passionate around you! I thank the member for Mallee for his question. The member for Mallee comes from an area where one of the great products amongst many around Mildura is potatoes: spuds. There was about a 303 per cent tariff on spuds into Korea before the coalition came in. The coalition were instrumental in reducing those tariffs. I think we should start this answer by basically ticking the boxes of the things we have done in the first 100 days.

When we arrived there was no farm finance agreement; but there is now, so we can tick that box. When we arrived there was no free trade agreement with Korea; but we have that now, so we can tick that box. When we arrived the former government had destroyed the live cattle trade; but we fixed that up, so we can tick that box. But it is not just what we have done in the first 100 days; it is our plan for future decades. This white paper is so important because, if our nation is to be a nation with many strings to its bow, then we must have a strong agricultural sector. If we live with mining, then we are going to live in a boom-bust cycle. If we deliver services, then we are just one click away on the internet from competition at probably a lower wage rate and, in many instances, a lower standard of education. But in agriculture we have a great strategic advantage to pursue.

This paper will have three stages. The first stage, the issues section, is where we right now are collecting all the ideas and are out there giving the Australian people the opportunity to contribute. The next section is the green paper, where we have a range of alternatives. The final stage, the white paper, is where we can select those alternatives. This gives the Australian people a sense that we will be part of an Asian future. We will be delivering an outcome, and we will be getting a better return to the farm gate because we have a proven track record in the past and we have a proven track record for the future.

I am looking forward to working with my counterpart on the other side. He wrote a very good media release today. He was getting stuck into me a little bit, but I am willing to work. I am looking forward to explaining to the Australian people how we have a great future in agriculture under a coalition government.

Mr Fitzgibbon: Can I ask the minister to table the imaginary script from which he was reading?

The SPEAKER: That is quite out of order.