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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Page: 718


Dr McVEIGH (Groom) (16:03): I welcome the opportunity to rise and speak on this motion, which, by its very nature, invites the obvious compare and contrast, and I intend to do just that. We can talk about facts and we can talk about the record. Let's just focus on that first. Australia's total farm production is estimated, as others have said, at $60 billion in the past year—up 25 per cent since we came to office. The value of agricultural exports was estimated at $50 billion—up almost 30 per cent since we came to office. In the past 12 months this government have continued to invest in a range of incentives to support our very important agricultural industries. They've invested an extra $300 million in a biosecurity system. Agricultural exports are continuing to be supported, in terms of their growth, with an extra $50 million in the last 12 months. They've invested $10 million in areas of digital transformation for agriculture, including, as referred to earlier, APVMA, significantly improving their processes and turnarounds to support farmers through this government's initiatives. In the 2018-19 budget, expenditure on Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio responsibilities was estimated to be $2.32 billion. That's an increase of $1.53 since we came to power, such is the significance of our investment.

I refer to a whole range of very significant initiatives, in particular, the Agricultural competitiveness white paper, which has beendiscussed already. The Regional Investment Corporation was established in Orange as part of our decentralisation strategy to support the Commonwealth Farm Business Concessional Loans Scheme and farmers in need, such as the National Drought Agreement, which our Prime Minister has played such a key role in. In particular, one that excites me is the innovation policy paper Agricultural innovation—a national approach to grow Australia's future, released by the previous minister for agriculture earlier this year.

In my maiden speech in this House I spoke about the importance of the agricultural supply chains in our country—the value chains. Many refer to them as paddock-to-plate initiatives. I refer to them as life in regional Australia and how regional Australia lifts more than its fair share to support our great country. We consider the whole supply chain—and I fear those opposite don't do this enough as it's too big a picture for them. Just today we heard the environment minister in question time talking about Landcare and healthy soils and the science minister talking about technologies that continue to support agriculture and manufacturing. It's part of our DNA right across the board.

On animal welfare, who is it who has been stepping up in terms of live exports and the challenges that have to be faced? It's the coalition. Food labelling and the importance of consumers, not only here but around the world, understanding the country of origin for our excellent agricultural products has been discussed. Drought and the response to the significant challenges faced around the country has been discussed. It's our Prime Minister and it's our ministers—it's our leadership—who have stood up. As I mentioned, for research and development corporations, the focus is on innovation. There's infrastructure to get our products to market, to port and to those export markets overseas that we're trying to grow. Agriculture food processing and all of those industries in the supply chains to which I refer are largely small and family businesses. It's for them we've been providing tax relief, because we understand how that whole value chain works.

Our government is getting behind manufacturing—for example, meat processors. In my home state of Queensland that is the biggest manufacturing industry in the state. And there's security for our farmers and our processing facilities to get those activists out of their faces to let them get on with their jobs. It's our side of politics that secured the free trade agreements that mean so much to the future of agriculture in our country. What has the opposition done? Nothing. They're kicking and screaming against support of our drought initiatives. For infrastructure, in Queensland's case, our state colleagues will not step up and participate in Inland Rail or water infrastructure at Rookwood Weir and Emu Swamp Dam. The examples go on and on. For example, we've seen Labor attacking owner drivers. They just don't get it.