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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3131

Indigenous Rangers


Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt) (14:23): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline to the House how the Indigenous ranger program assists in protecting Australia from biosecurity threats? Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of any alternative policies?


Mr JOYCE (New EnglandDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for his question and note the $12.4 million to be put into the Indigenous rangers program, which is so vitally important to how we keep our borders strong and protected. We note also that at Boigu Island, in the member's electorate, you can actually see the boats leaving Papua New Guinea. The same Indigenous rangers work as part of the process of making sure that we maintain the sentinel herds and keep our nation free not only from people but from the things they might bring in on the boats—things such as pigs, which could carry foot-and-mouth disease, issues such as screw fly and diseases that could come into our grain crops. It is vitally important, because it is not just the people who create the problems; it is also the things they might be carrying.

This is why we have the migration legislation amendment bill. We want to make sure that we close the circle on giving our nation strong borders. Strong borders are vitally important for making sure that we keep the biosecurity requirements in place and also that we keep our borders secure. It is interesting that we always believed we were on a unity ticket with the Labor Party, but that unity ticket with the Labor Party seems to have been put aside. However, today they did manage to come up with a unity ticket with Senator Jacqui Lambie and One Nation. So we now have Senator Jacqui Lambie—

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler! Members on my left!

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting while I am addressing the House.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley can leave, under standing order 94(a).

The member for Chifley then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The member for Leichhardt on a point of order.

Mr Entsch: The question I asked is absolutely critical to my electorate, given that the mainland of Papua New Guinea is within four kilometres of the boundary. I was trying to hear the answer from the minister, which is important to my electorate, but I could not hear a thing because of the clowns on the other side making the noise.

The SPEAKER: The member for Leichhardt will resume his seat. The member for Leichhardt is quite right.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will cease interjecting. The member for Hunter will leave the chamber, under standing order 94(a). I do not know how many times I can say it.

The member for Hunter then the left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Mr Joyce: It looks like I am not going to get a question from the member for Hunter, so that makes it a year before I heard from him. What is also surprising is that they can come up with a unity ticket with Senator Jacqui Lambie and One Nation. I am sure the member for Grayndler's members would be interested in their unity ticket with One Nation on the backpackers tax, which talks about a rate for people who are past the tax-free threshold of $18,200—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat and the member for Grayndler will resume his seat. The member for McMahon will leave the chamber, under standing order 94(a).

The member for McMahon then the left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will resume his seat, as I was about to address the House before the member for Grayndler was on his feet. The Deputy Prime Minister was asked a question about a particular policy topic: the Indigenous rangers program. He is entitled to some latitude but he is now moving way beyond it. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari is warned.

Mr Joyce: I think it is vitally important that we note the investment we have made through the agricultural white paper for Indigenous rangers. Indigenous rangers are part and parcel of this nation's program for having strong borders so that we can ensure that we not only maintain the sentinel herds of northern Australia but also protect our nation from such things as the incursion of foot-and-mouth disease, which would be decimating. It is very important to remember that it is not just the people who come in; it is the things they might be carrying that would cause our nation a catastrophic outcome if there were to be an outbreak of these diseases.