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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14035

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (09:42): The motion is seconded, Mr Speaker. Standing orders should be suspended so that we can debate this motion. In a normal parliament, it would be the National Party that would be moving a motion like this today. In a normal parliament, it would be the National Party that would be standing here moving a motion like this. But the fact of the matter is that it falls to Labor to do the work for the dairy farmers of Australia because the National Party are uninterested, incapable and unable to do it. It should be the country Liberal Party members who are moving this motion today, but they've gone missing. They're not even in the chamber focusing on this issue. So it falls to Labor to do the job of a divided and incompetent government, and that is what we are dealing with.

The dairy industry is in crisis.

Mr Tehan: Socialist, populist crap!

The SPEAKER: The minister!

Mr STEPHEN JONES: The minister over there says it's crap. The minister should visit the South Coast of New South Wales.

The SPEAKER: The member for Whitlam will resume his seat. The minister will come to the despatch box and withdraw. You will come to the despatch box and withdraw.

Mr Tehan: I withdraw.

Dr Mike Kelly interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Whitlam has the call. As usual, the member for Eden-Monaro is not helping.

Mr STEPHEN JONES: This is no small issue. I encourage the ministers to visit the south coast of New South Wales, where the dairy industry is in crisis. From Albion Park in my electorate and Jamberoo all the way through to Batemans Bay—and I see the member for Eden-Monaro here—and the Victorian border, dairy farmers are crying out for help. Thousands and thousands of cattle are being sold. The thousands of workers who work on dairy farms face the very real prospect of losing their jobs. Farmers who have been on their properties for generations are thinking very seriously about walking through the gates and handing in the keys. This is no small matter. It should be the National Party or the Liberal Party which is bringing to this parliament the issues, the policies and the solutions to this, but they are bereft of ideas.

The member for Hunter has pointed out that the ACCC recommended, 12 months ago, a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry. Anybody who's been in this place a long time would know that the ACCC is very slow to recommend such an instrument. Those opposite have had over 12 months to act on this, but still there is no action—still no action. The Liberal and National parties are unable to answer the problems of the dairy farmers of the South Coast of New South Wales and right around the country, but Labor will step up to the plate. We see the sense of putting in place a mandatory floor price for milk. I've heard members on that side of the House give great speeches in the parliament saying this is exactly what's needed, but they are unable to convince their own minister and they're unable to convince the Liberal Party. They're so divided amongst themselves they're unable to get agreement and legislation on this. But Labor will do it. Labor will ensure that we have a mandatory code of conduct.

Those opposite can rush on some issues. We saw the Prime Minister rush to Cooktown to provide $6 million to re-enact a voyage that never happened. Well, how about a rush on this issue? How about a rush to put in place a mandatory code of conduct and to ensure that we have a minimum floor price on dairy and on milk?

Mrs Sudmalis: You don't even know where your seat is. Jamberoo is in Gilmore.

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I hear the member for Gilmore interjecting. That's very courageous. The member for Gilmore won't even back her own candidate when it comes to her successor. They are so divided in Gilmore, so busy fighting amongst themselves—the Liberal Party fighting against the National Party; the former Liberal Party candidate fighting against the current Liberal Party candidate—that they are not fighting for the dairy farmers of the South Coast. If the member for Gilmore really cared about dairy farmers, she'd cross the floor.

Mrs Sudmalis interjecting

Mr STEPHEN JONES: You had the opportunity. I hope you get the call. I hope you speak in favour of the dairy farmers on the South Coast, because you've done precious little for them over the last five years.

The SPEAKER: I'd just remind members on both sides—I suspect there's a vote coming on, and standing order 94(a) applies all day. The question is that the motion moved by the member for Hunter be agreed to. I call the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.