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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 217

Research and Development

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture. We know that innovation is the key to Australian agriculture remaining competitive. During the election the government committed to an additional $100 million for agricultural research and development. Given the current public debate about the future of agriculture manufacturing and the need for innovation, would the minister please outline the time line for this funding to become available, and how it will be distributed?

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandMinister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (14:18): Thank you very much for the question. I am astounded, because it is the first question I have actually received from the other side, so I would like to thank the member for Indi for the question. It is a good question, because it is about research and development. The Commonwealth each year delivers about $700 million in research and development. About $250 million comes from my department alone. We made an announcement through the budget that a further $100 million over the forward estimates will be delivered, and that will roll out from 2014-15. It is very important, because research and development goes to the crux of how we expand our industry. As a former member of the Rural Research and Development Council—correct me if I am wrong—you would be aware of the report that says that we get $11 return for every $1 spent. It is those sorts of returns that, in our history, have seen us deliver things such as pink lady apples, the rust-resistant wheat that Farrer was instrumental in and that allowed us to develop blacksoil plains, the stump-jump plough—to help us get through the Labor Party! And then there is Droughtmaster cattle, and the Cactoblastis moth—there are so many things you can do with a smart country that actually invests.

And we do invest. But who used to remove investment? CSIRO lost about $63 million through the Labor Party. And what I also might say is that we have seen some reports that confuse the issue between research and development and subsidies. Research and development are not subsidies. And when we hear reported that $63 million goes into the grains industry for research and development, that is a good investment, when you have $7½ billion coming back from grains.

Ms McGowan: Madam Speaker, a point of order on relevance: the question was about investment of $100 million—

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mr JOYCE: The member for Indi would be aware that it is in the budget, and it rolls out from 2014-15, and it is $100 million over the forward estimates. This gives us the capacity to build on the $250 million a year that comes from my department alone, the $700 million that is already part of the Commonwealth's investment through other organisations and other entities, such as the CSIRO. This is all very important because that is why we can invest $19 million in dairy and get a return of about $2½ billion. This is the smart country that we wish to stand behind, because that is how— (Time expired)