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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Page: 716

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (15:58): I just want to draw back from the rolling stock report that has preceded much of this debate and say that there are two things we have been devoid of in this country for the last six years. One of them, sadly, is water. We do know that there has been a horrendous drought across most of our productive farmland in Australia. The other is policy. This government, for the last six years, has shirked and squirmed and hid from the farmers of Australia. and I want to speak directly to those farmers of Australia and say that this government has not served you well.

I get out to the regional areas very often. In fact, I married a farmer's son. I know the regions well. I live in a region. And I've heard the talk from across the aisle. They get on the back of the ute and they say: 'Oh, the Labor Party can't manage money. They just want to tax you to hell. They don't know what it's like out here in the bush.' They've been telling you the same story for 50 years. For 50 years, they've trotted out the same old stale policies. And let me tell you: agriculture in Australia has not prospered under a coalition government. It has not. In the last two years alone, regarding the produce that is grown in this country, the value of everything that is farmed in Australia has fallen to $58 billion, from $63.8 billion two years ago. That is not an increase.

Milk and wool production have been affected by the drought, that is true, but this government have hidden behind a policy hiatus for the last two years on milk and wool alone. You have done nothing meaningful to help the people you actually say you represent. And what a disgrace the National Party are. They represent some of the poorest electorates in our country—people who are really struggling at this time, not just to put food on the table, as regularly trotted out by the minister for water. He likes talking about kitchen tables and utes. These people are actually struggling financially and psychologically, and the Nats have done absolutely zero to meaningfully help them. That's the curse of what we're discussing today: this government's abject failure to help and properly represent the people they always say they want to represent and do represent. They do not represent them all.

There were the floods in Queensland—yes, I know. I've heard the member for Kennedy, Mr Katter, talk about the destruction of the herd in Queensland. We indeed know how dreadful that was, and we also know that it's impacted live cattle exports, but, again, we've seen nothing meaningful from this government. When Scott Morrison became the Prime Minister last August, one of the first things he did was go to Quilpie, in South-West Queensland.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The assistant minister on a point of order.

Mr Howarth: The member needs to address the Prime Minister by his correct title.

Mr Rob Mitchell: She did.

Mr Howarth: No, she didn't.

Mr Rob Mitchell: She said he became the Prime Minister.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will be silent. I ask the member, if she did do that, to correct that and continue.

Ms SWANSON: I referred to when the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, became the Prime Minister in August last year. He went to south-west Quilpie. I want to talk about when he was in Quilpie. He stood up and he talked about how dire things were in Quilpie and then he was asked about drought relief and drought recovery, which was good. He talked about those two things. But then he was asked about climate change and he said:

I don't think that's part of this debate. ... It’s not a debate I’ve participated a lot in in the past because I’m practically interested in the policies that will address what is going on here right and now.

That is my point. Last August, the Prime Minister was talking about 'here and now', and yet last night, here in this chamber, in this parliament, he put through a bill touting to help farmers right here, right now. The money won't be drawn down until next July and you still don't know what you're going to spend it on. I beg the farmers, the fibre producers and the food producers of this country: do not be hoodwinked by this faux farming government. They do not have your best interests at heart. They have not produced a good policy. This is not drought relief. They are not helping you today and they won't help you tomorrow. Shame on this government. They are a terrible indictment on the farming communities of Australia.