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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8390

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (17:55): I thank the minister for her answer. She referred to a whole range of things, but not specifically to an average increase in electricity costs for farmers. I do not know if the modelling has not been done, and I understand the minister will not have everything at her fingertips, but it is a significant issue. It is quite concerning for farmers and people across regional commu­nities that, when asked a very simple question about the average increase in electricity costs to farmers, the minister was not able to give the chamber a straight answer. I think that is very concerning because it indicates perhaps a lack of attention or understanding of the importance of this issue.

The minister did mention in her answer that there was a calculation based on small businesses or householders. If I understood it correctly, there is small business and householder assistance. Family farms are classified as both, so has that been taken into account when determining any assistance? I also ask the minister, given that the government has recently released the National Food Plan, what impact of the carbon tax on farming and agriculture has been taken into account when formulating that plan. There is going to be a significant impost on farmers and right across our regional communities, through farming businesses and the flow-on effects. That significant impost has to impact on farm profitability—there is absolutely no doubt about that. So to what extent was the carbon tax impact taken into account in the development of the National Food Plan?