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Coalition launches agricultural policy.

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Warren Truss MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Federal Member for Wide Bay

Coalition Launches Agricultural Policy 3 November 2001

Today, at the Albury Show, the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, launched the Coalition's policy for Australia's rural industries.

"Australian farmers are benefiting from the Coalition's sound economic management and its policies designed to support our rural industries. The Coalition is committed to building on the traditional strengths of our farm sector while encouraging greater innovation, security and investment.

"A key issue for farmers is governments striking the right balance between environmental management and farmers' property rights and business needs. The Coalition is strongly committed to the protection of farmers' property rights, with just compensation when those rights are given up in the broader community interest. The Coalition will provide the strong leadership needed to resolve the issue through the Council of Australian Governments.

"Major initiatives which the Coalition will take forward in a third term include:

• A record $596 million in additional funding for quarantine; • $1 billion to extend the Natural Heritage Trust; • a $1.4 billion plan to tackle water quality and salinity; • $309 million to extend Agriculture - Advancing Australia programs; and • a $102.4 million National Food Industry Strategy.

These initiatives protect Australia's resource base and help to support the viability of family farms.

In its election policy, the Coalition has announced further initiatives.

"To reinforce Australia's deserved reputation as a supplier of quality, environmentally friendly products, the Coalition will support the adoption of voluntary, accredited Environmental Management Systems (EMS) on Australian farms. Using these systems, farmers can assess, plan and manage the environment of their farm. The Coalition will provide a maximum $3,000 tax rebate to eligible farmers to develop and apply an accredited EMS for their properties. Pilot projects will be funded in up to 15 regions.

"The Coalition will implement a comprehensive strategy to establish a strong biofuels industry in Australia. $50 million in grants will support the construction and expansion of manufacturing capacity. The Coalition will set the realistic target that biofuels will contribute 350 million litres to our fuel supply by 2010. The current excise exemption for fuel ethanol will be retained.

"The Coalition will work closely with industry to develop practical solutions to the shortage of rural vets. The Coalition has already committed funds to a joint industry- government process to identify the key problems and possible solutions. The system of veterinary training will be reviewed to ensure that we have an adequate of graduates to practise in the regions. $2 million will be available to support lasting, effective solutions.

"The Coalition has made quarantine security a major priority, more than tripling the AQIS budget and border programs staff since coming to office. However, we need to back these measures with strong sanctions against the unscrupulous people who smuggle potentially dangerous items for profit. The Coalition will amend the Quarantine Act to create a new offence - commercial smuggling - with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.

"The Coalition has introduced a new program to encourage young people to see our agricultural industries as offering attractive careers, and to develop their leadership potential. The Coalition will extend this program.

"The Coalition is working with industry to develop an aquaculture action agenda and to finalise the Commonwealth Fisheries Policy Review. Once these steps are complete, the Coalition will respond sympathetically to the issues identified by the commercial fishing industry and recreational fishers.

"The organic industry has tremendous potential, across our entire farm sector and the value chain. The Coalition will support this emerging industry to achieve the goals set in its recent industry strategy. A key issue is the development of a comprehensive industry standard for production and labelling which can underwrite future growth. This will be a high priority for the Coalition.

"The Coalition has in place comprehensive and well-resourced policies to support the future of our primary industries. The key issues - natural resource management, biosecurity, rural services and industry development - are being addressed. At the same time, only the Coalition has the experience and ability to maintain the pro-growth environment which underpins the strong performance of these industries," Mr Truss said.