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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7237

Mr ADAMS (3:31 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. I congratulate him on his statement yesterday on forestry. Can the minister outline the government’s priorities in agriculture and the importance of providing certainty in policy, including the monitoring and protection of Australia’s flora and fauna?

Mr BURKE (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —I thank the honourable member for his question and his comments concerning the ministerial statement on forestry that was made yesterday. One of the important things for people in any form of business, including the farming business, is to have certainty. It is important to provide certainty for them so that they are able to make business decisions now, plan for themselves and then act into the future. That is the reason the government made sure that it put out for discussion the green paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, made sure it put out the white paper and made sure it put out the draft legislation and introduced the legislation into the parliament using a very clear timetable.

That capacity for certainty is entirely limited by the incapacity of the opposition to deliver on providing a position. Whether it be on the alcopops legislation, on the immigration vote that we had today or on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the only thing they have been unable to agree on is to not vote at all. The sceptics have gradually won the argument and the person who badged himself as believing passionately in action on this issue was even willing to abandon that. Of all the things that business will ask for on any policy issue, the one they ask for most often is certainty, yet we find ourselves in a situation where even that is not able to be delivered because of the state of the current opposition. The fact is that they are in the situation now of having more factions and groups than they have members.

I also deal with the importance of certainty in animal welfare in my role in the agriculture portfolio. The differences from state to state and the different sets of rules regarding animal welfare are seen as being a major problem, which is often raised in the ministerial council. My responsibilities do not go only to production animals; they also extend to domestic pets. The Leader of the House used the line a couple of days ago, in passing, that a dead cat can not bounce. Annabel Crabb has revealed a story of the very sad passing of a cat, in the Quarterly Essay, which raises serious—

Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. He was asked about agricultural priorities and, under standing order 104, he should stick to what he was asked about.

The SPEAKER —The minister will relate his material to the question.

Mr BURKE —As part of that protection of fauna, it is important that we know that when someone is in a bad mood you do have to take extra care of domestic pets.

Mr ABBOTT (Warringah) [3:35 PM] —I move:

That the member be no longer heard.

Question put.