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Thursday, 25 July 2019
Page: 1041

Climate Change

Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (14:15): My question is to the Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management. Farmers in my electorate are grappling with the impact of climate change, hotter and dryer seasons and more frequent severe weather events. For two successive years, we've had hail storms that have devastated our apple orchards, leaving our growers desperate for horticulture netting to safeguard against such disasters in the future. Minister, in April 2018 you initiated a national strategy on climate change and agriculture. Minister, will you please advise the House around the content, funding and time frame for this strategy?

Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management) (14:16): I thank the honourable member for her question. You are right: in April last year, one of the first achievements after becoming agriculture minister, at my first ministerial council of all agriculture ministers—the states and myself—was to be able to get an agreement on a nationally coordinated approach towards supporting our farmers with the changing climate and adapting to climate. We were able to with the support of the Victorian government. I need to acknowledge the former agriculture minister there, Jaala Pulford, who took the lead on that and commissioned a report that was provided to the last ministerial council meeting in September last year, and the final report will be provided to the ministerial council in September this year.

It's important that we get a coordinated approach between state and federal agencies to ensure that we're not duplicating expenditure. But it's also important to understand the work that our farmers and the government have already done, particularly since we first put a till in the soil. Our farmers have been adapting to a changing climate, and we're putting in over $1.1 billion a year, between government and farmers, to give them the tools to be able to adapt to a changing climate—the cutting-edge research and development they need. It's also important that we continue to improve our landscapes. One point one billion dollars has gone to Landcare itself—a great movement that has changed the land practices of our farmers for the better, in terms of not only the environmental outcomes but also profitability.

Only last night, proudly, this government, as a signature piece to drought policy into the future, was able to pass the Future Drought Fund—a $100 million dividend, year in, year out. It is legislated. We will be going out and consulting with the community. What a crazy idea that a government might go out and ask those whose money it is how it should be spent! We will look at things like climate risk, extension work and how we can actually ensure our farmers take up the research and development that we've got and better equip them to adapt to a changing climate. That's what a government should be: agile and there to ensure that we deliver money that is purposeful and will be spent properly.