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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 10268

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (15:58): I thank Senator Siewert for her contribution. Yes, the purpose of the task force is to do the work that is set out. It is important that its work is supported by the secretariat of DAFF, but DAFF certainly has no intention to deliver the work or drive the outcome. What I want—and I suspect it is the same as you—is for that task force to do the work. I am not going to cavil with it and neither is the department. I can make that very plain. This is critical work that needs to be done.

You are right that Senator Nash, unfortunately, misses the point completely. I am not going to get into the negative arguments that she wants to run and which are personal denigrations as well. This industry needs this work done. It needs the work of the task force, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to use the funds from the WEA to progress this debate further.

Where we have landed in the last short while is that the industry, which has effectively been saying this for a year, want the outcome that we have now got—in fact, so much so that it has been working on the voluntary code. Should the amendments pass, it will be a mandatory code. I think that is a sensible solution for the industry. We do need the facts on the table, and that is what the task force will do.

As to the make-up of the task force, we will consult with industry to ensure that we get the best possible people on the task force to be able to provide those outcomes. It is critically important that we look at opportunities from industry to put forward drivers who can contribute to the outcomes of the task force. In terms of the timing, clearly I will have to wait for the legislation to pass and it to be established to manage some of that. But I can broadly say that we will ensure that the task force is up and running as soon as practicable. Of course, we have to go through a consultation process with industry to get their input on who the people will be on the task force and, of course, consultation with those people who are appointed to the task force. That will obviously depend on the legislation passing, and it will depend on how long it takes industry to respond. I would imagine that will occur in a relatively short period of time.

This is one of those areas where industry, if you look across it, has unfortunately been significantly divide. The division between WA and the eastern seaboard is just so stark. The WA industry has embraced competition since 2008 and it has continued to prosper and thrive within a competitive environment. On the eastern seaboard, there are two different markets but the majority of the eastern seaboard has a range of market opportunities from domestic through to export. To put it mildly, I think they have embraced competition and continue to strive and achieve. They have, though, in this respect, not moved on from a regulated market in part. I think this gives the industry a great opportunity to look at some of the issues that they say trouble them and to drive the change that is so desperately needed. This industry has all the elements of a great industry, and this change will ensure that it can continue to prosper.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Ludlam ): The question is that amendments (3) and (1) moved by Senator Siewert by leave on sheet 7294 be agreed to.

Question agreed to.