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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 285

Agriculture Industry

Mr HOGAN (Page) (14:32): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Would the minister outline what measures the government is taking to support the ongoing success of Australia's $60 billion agriculture sector? And is the minister aware of any threats that stifle opportunities for hardworking Australian businesses and households, especially in my electorate of Page?

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:33): I thank the honourable member for his question, and I know that he is very aware of the success that we are having in the agricultural sector, heading towards the first year of over $60 billion worth of agricultural production. This is on the back of record cattle prices, record meat sheep prices, record pork prices; we have got near-record sugar prices and a turnaround in the wool market—the fine wool market and the broad wool market. We have new exports into new markets—tropical fruits, and the wine contracts have turned around. All in all, it is a sign of a very successful government standing beside a very successful industry, as we deliver real returns. The best returns back through the farm gate in Australia's history have happened under this government.

We are very proud of the work we are doing because it is real and tangible—with real and tangible economic benefits, not only to the people on the land but also to the people in the towns that are supported by that land. And we see that in places such as in the member for Page's electorate The Big River Group wrote to me and said one of the biggest concerns, of course, is energy costs. Energy costs are very important, because they employ over 300 people—300 people, I think, in Grafton and also in the member for Riverina's electorate in Wagga. It is incredibly important that we come up with a policy to make sure that we keep control of electricity prices—because I have seen the opposition's position and the ridiculous, untenable position they have for power prices is they have one policy: they have a policy to make people poorer. The Labor Party have a policy to put working men and women out of a job. The Labor Party have no policy that supports manufacturing by keeping one of the fundamentals of manufacturing under control—and that is the price of power. So you have a choice: you can have cheap power or cheap wages, and we know that the Labor Party have lined up for dear power, so what we have is either no wages or cheaper wages. They are doing everything in their power to put working men and women out of a job. That is where they reside. We can see this in no better form as when the Premier for South Australia—that doyen of power policy—went to the riverlands to try and stir up problems with the irrigators, and what did they come back with? 'Don't worry about the water, because we can't afford to lift it! We can't afford to lift it because the power price is too high.' And what did they come back with? The Labor Party power policy is unreliable, and they doing this to the Australian people.

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister knows the rules on props.

Mr JOYCE: The Labor Party have to determine whose side they are on. Are you on the side of working men and women, or are you on the side of Annandale? Is the member for Maribyrnong going to be the Angel for Annandale, or stand up for working men and women? Because we have not heard one policy from you that is going to deal with the escalating power prices. But we on this side have the bravery to actually grasp the mettle to deal with this issue to make sure that we are the ones that deal with— (Time expired)