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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1941

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (18:59): Doom and gloom is not what we should be doing in the Year of the Farmer. We should be positive. We should not be talking about being ruined. We should be talking about positive things that farming is doing in Australia and the future of farming, and not talking it down like we just got from the last speech. I welcome this discussion on the Australian Year of the Farmer, for 2012, which was brought to this place by the member for Maranoa. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to tell some of the good news stories, especially in my state of Tasmania. I believe this is a very important time to recognise the role that farmers play in our economy.

There are quite a few changes taking place in the agriculture industry, as there always has been, but they are getting faster. It is an area where jobs are growing and we need to encourage more young people to see that there is a future in the farming industry working on farms, working in growing and in owning farms.

Recently I had the opportunity with some of my Tasmanian colleagues to show the federal minister, Joe Ludwig, around our electorates to show what was happening there. We visited three electorates and covered some of the major areas of enterprise in agriculture and forestry, starting with Kelly's Sawmill, down at Dunalley—he is also a farmer—where we inspected new processes of timber engineering using smaller and thinner pieces of wood to make structural timber, which of course is one of the futures for the timber industry.

We also met the Dalys, a farming family who grow potatoes. They are now growing and marketing new species of potatoes and undertaking research into the best products and species for niche markets and also for the major supermarkets in Sydney and Melbourne—the best high-product potatoes anywhere in the world, I would think.

The last enterprise I visited in Lyons with the minister was Tasmanian Alkaloids, in Westbury, who process poppies. This is a highly successful industry that is still working on the edge of their markets exploring new directions for their industry. That, of course, goes out to the world. This industry employs more scientists than any other rural industry. It is in the forefront of our economy. There are many fantastic enterprises that now exist and will be part of the future of Tasmania.

They certainly value our farmers in my state of Tasmania. Part of the success story is in fact because Tasmania has taken up the challenge of drought-proofing Tasmania, probably starting with David Llewellyn, a past state member for Lyons, who was the minister for primary industry. He saw that we needed to get irrigation schemes up and running if we were going to compete in the food market. In fact, Tasmania has 10 per cent of the rainfall that falls on Australia, and we have around 1.5 per cent of the land mass. This gives us a natural advantage over the rest of Australia. We must take up that challenge and that advantage.

Tasmania is now building irrigation schemes in public-private partnerships. The public contribution to the construction cost of the schemes comes from a pool of $220 million allocated for this purpose by the Tasmanian government and the Australian government. The private contribution comes from primary producers through the purchase of tradeable water entitlements and, of course, from putting the infrastructure in on their own farms—buying the pivots et cetera. The public contribution recognises that these water developments are beyond the resources of farmers alone and that in addition to benefiting individual farming enterprises it will benefit regional communities wherever possible. The public support relates not only to the capital construction but also considerable commitment to ensure that Tasmania has a good future in agriculture, as do our farmers.

We now have to deal with the fact that, while we have good, rich soils, a good climate and a sustainable water supply, we lack and must have skilled workers. This is something that has been addressed recently with the announcement of $4.5 million to build the Agritas Trade College in Smithton in Tasmania. This will allow many young people to train in Tasmania and to study in an environment in which they can get work in the future. (Time expired)