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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 5098


Mr LITTLEPROUD (MaranoaMinister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (19:27): I'll answer some of the questions that the member for Hunter raised, particularly around that order—I didn't hear it because of the interjections. It was put in place for 1 July for its practical application. That's why it has taken us time—the department has advised me—to be able to practically apply it.

In terms of the biosecurity intergovernmental agreement, at AGMIN in April this year, we spoke about and accepted all 42 recommendations. Part of the budget measures is about addressing our financial contribution to that. We now have to get the states to make their contribution. They have to make the contribution to 2016-17 levels. So it is now down to the states to do that. I reach out across the aisle and ask you to work with your state Labor colleagues to come on that journey. We are hoping to have that done offline during the rest of this year.

In terms of drought, I don't intend to be lectured by those opposite about drought. When we took over, there was nothing in the cupboard. There was zero, zilch. Since we've come to power, we've put over a billion dollars on the table, not just for farms but for communities. A billion dollars—$880 million through concessional loans; 7,900 families have had access to farm household assistance; 2,400 of those have come off it. Of the 2,400 to come off it, 85 per cent have said that the farm household assistance program helped them through, because it's not just about putting dollars in their pockets to put bread and butter on the table. It's also about building resilience in their business. We assign them a case manager that builds resilience in their business. It goes far beyond that.

I don't intend to be lectured when my electorate has been in drought for seven years—seven long years. But what we've done is put an environment around it to make sure that the concessional loans—also making sure that these smaller shires—we've done a drought community program where each shire gets $1.5 million to go and build projects in that community using local contractors. That's because it's not just the farmers that hurt during drought; it's the small businesses that hurt as well. That's what those opposite don't understand. They don't live out there, and they don't care. The reality is that it's these small communities and these small-business owners that hurt from it. That's the reality. Not only are we making sure that we're looking after farmers in keeping the money flowing but we're also making sure that we're going to keep contractors going as well.

We're building that resilience for when the next drought comes, with respect to pests and weeds, with $25.8 million just for drought communities to be able to tackle pests and weeds. For dog fencing, in the state of Queensland alone, there is $13 million that we put in. The state government are only just catching up to us now, even though this is a state responsibility. And then they tried to claim $18 million which the Longreach Regional Council undertook themselves through a loan process to lend out to their ratepayers, and it was paid back through their rates.

This is the shysty attempt of everybody on that side to say they understand agriculture. But do you know what? Let me go further. Let me go further about the RIC, because that is delivering concessional loans. But do you know why we've got a delay? Because you didn't allow us to get it through. But do you know what? What you've done has just highlighted my first parliamentary win in my first parliamentary week as a minister in getting the Regional Investment Corporation Bill through. It blew you away! You didn't even see it coming, nor did Senator Wong. You did not see it coming. But let me just finish on this.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): I call the member for Hunter.

Mr Fitzgibbon: Under standing order 66A, I ask the minister whether he will accept an intervention from me.

Mr LITTLEPROUD: No.

Mr Fitzgibbon: Oh, why not?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will take his seat.

Mr LITTLEPROUD: Sit down! Let me just say that the greatest endorsement of this budget, of the agricultural budget, came in the budget reply speech by the Leader of the Opposition, because he did not commit one cent extra to what we have. So the Labor Party have effectively endorsed our budget, lock, stock and barrel. They don't understand agriculture. They don't care about it. There is no vision. There is no vision for agriculture by those opposite.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Paterson?

Ms Swanson: Under standing order 66A, I seek an intervention.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the answer's no.

Mr LITTLEPROUD: No.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The answer's no, Member for Paterson.

Mr LITTLEPROUD: Since I've got the floor again, I'll just make that final point: not one brass razoo was committed by the Labor Party in their budget reply speech. But I do give the member for Hunter some credit. He did get the Leader of the Opposition to at least say the word 'agriculture'. That's a first. In his last major public speech at the National Press Club, he couldn't even say the word 'agriculture'. God forbid that those opposite ever get in, because they don't care and they don't understand about agriculture.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Debate adjourned.

Feder ation Chamber adjourned at 19:33