Speech by Mrs Gina Rinehart
Patron and Founder of National Agriculture & Related Industries Day
Executive Chairman of the Hancock Prospecting Group and S. Kidman & Co
National Agriculture & Related Industries Day Gala Dinner
Wednesday 21 November 2017, Sydney
Good evening distinguished guests, and friends.
Warmest welcome to Australia’s second annual National Agriculture and Related Industries Day. It’s wonderful to see you here, thank you for coming from far and wide.
This year again we haven’t had room for all who wanted to join us tonight, if there were two lots of fantastic London Essentials, we should have hired two boats! As we’ve been fully booked for weeks. This is a night to celebrate everyone in our agricultural industry, one of our country’s most important industries, and which has been since Australia’s very beginning.
Thank you to everyone who has made tonight possible.
Thank you to Tony and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of West Australia who have been with me since I first approached the Federal Government for approval to establish and hold a National Agriculture and Related Industries Day. And who also bravely stood up for agricultural interests many times, including for the rights of children in the bush to continue their School of the Air program.
Thank you also to those companies and individuals who sponsored or donated auction items tonight.
These will be showing on screens during the night. We have some fantastic items for our auction to help drought victims, during one of Australia’s worst droughts.
Can we please have a very big round of applause for our wonderful sponsors and generous supporters?
Thank you to all others who joined with me to support our National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, especially those from the very beginning. Let’s have a terrific night. Let’s enjoy the wines and foods our agriculture industry provides and let’s get those tambourines in action again!
On National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, we should think – without our pastoralists, farmers, fishermen, fruit and veggie growers, timber providers, pearlers, poultry suppliers, bee keepers, wine growers and horticulturalists, where would our country be and who would step up to support the 1.6 million Australian’s who rely on agriculture for their employment?
The divide between city and country people is growing with a 2017 Australian survey finding that 83 per cent of people were convinced that “agriculture and farming have no or little relevance to their lives.” 83 percent. The same survey found less than 50 per cent of people had talked to or met a farmer in the past year. Concerning views, when agriculture is not only a major part of our history, our very culture, but a critical part of our future.
The reason I initiated National Agriculture & Related Industries Day last year was to try to bring about a greater understanding of the difficulties and hard-work of those who do work on the land, in the outback, or on our oceans, and the need to get government burdens, cost, tape and taxes down, to help our high cost country continue to be able to be internationally cost competitive, so our critical ability to export isn’t jeopardised.
Cutting the government cost burden, that big slab of expensive unproductive fat – so that those in the country and our small to medium enterprises, many of whom supply our agricultural industry, pay less for ever rising licence fees, and for tax, is what’s most needed, not unreliable loans that need to be paid back with interest. And certainly not advice from city bureaucrats, who’ve never had to manage a station, farm, fishing or pearl boat, or anything else successfully in our agricultural industry.
Nick, may I ask, do you want to get advice from bureaucrats who have never successfully run cattle, fishing or pearling company?
Nick, would you prefer to pay less tax, and have less government advice and less government tape?
Nick, would you prefer to go into debt more, by way of government loans, or would you prefer to pay less tax and less licence fees, so you didn’t need government loans?
Could I ask the audience, do you want to get advice from government on how to run your stations, farms, vineyards, orchards, market gardens, poultry, fishing or pearling companies, or any other agricultural industry? Could you please put up your hands to show those who want government advice?
That’s not many. None is not many!
And, would you prefer to pay less tax, and have less government advice and less government tape?
Well, pretty well everyone.
Let’s get this to our governments!
Tonight’s gala is an extra special one as it is being held also in support of our drought stricken farmers.
May I introduce one of Australia’s best country poets, Murray Hartin.
Murray, please join me. I’ve asked Murray to share with us one of his poems, entitled Rain from Nowhere.
Thank you Murray, what a telling, outstanding poem, please join me in another round of applause.
Our pastoralists and others in our agricultural industry are some of our countries best people. They put up with conditions that many of us would not. Rain and weather are endlessly huge risks. Drought tragedy, few in the city can understand how hard this is. All this and increasing red tape.
Wonderful people I know in West Australia who spent 50 years of their lives building up their stock, homestead, gardens and some of their property to what they could be very proud of, before they sold their property, told me, it’s not the dangerous snakes and spiders, Australia has in the bush about 21 species of the most dangerous spiders and snakes in the world, it’s not the heat around 50 degrees or more around 5 or 6 months of the year, it’s not the dust, flies and mosquitos in vast abundance, it’s not the drought or fires or isolation or lack of basic town conveniences, but government tape that made them give up their life’s work and the lives and home they loved.
Now around 70, they said after starting early in the morning, usually around 5am each day, after dinner at night, until often into the early hours, they’d have to do the increasing government paperwork. They couldn’t afford to have a Perth office or get lawyers to send them huge bills to do it for them, and they were 1,500 miles from the city. Making it extra difficult. They just couldn’t keep up such long hours. Yes I know, we’ve heard the talk about government reducing red tape, yes, we know that would cut costs, but are we actually seeing it?
Please put up your hands if you’re seeing government tape reduction overall, that is truly overall, not some tape lessened, and yet more tape added?
Those on the land have it tough often in isolated locations around the country, often far from essential services such as hospitals, but the government tape still has to be dealt with. Not sure what we get in return, we certainly don’t need offered advice from those in government about how to look after our stations and businesses!
We just need significantly less tape, significantly less compliance and significantly less tax. And need our governments to understand this message, so please help spread. The bureaucracies are not going to tell them this, we need to.
In the far north, when pastoralists spend days fighting the repeat occurrences of fires, and are exhausted, and ask for firefighting assistance, how many know we are told, “unless the fires are within 6kms of a town, firefighting relief won’t be sent to you”?
Better try to give you all a break from government for a while!
Tonight, I’m delighted to say we are launching “The Things We Love” book with recipes and more from each of our Hancock and Kidman stations, and Hancock 2GR wagyu farms, around Australia, to raise money for those stricken by drought stricken.
The cook is the central part of station life, as the station family gathers around the table together each breakfast and dinner, to talk about the day’s doings and their experiences and more. It’s a place to share amongst their station mates, their worries, happy stories, problems and tragedies, as these mates form the station family, with often their blood family members being thousands of miles away.
Favourite recipes have been added for smokos too, some from the cooks and some from who enjoy these afternoon and morning teas. For those in the cities I’d better add, you don’t have to smoke for smokos, indeed as a non-smoker, I never have.
These recipes aren’t from city chefs which may be difficult to follow, but recipes that you too can use and love.
And some of my favourite parts of the book, are the true stories as written by those who live in our outback and farms, as to why they love to do so.
I’d like to introduce you now to our three winners for their wonderful contributions to “The Things We Love.” Can you please come to the stage as quickly as possible when I call your name?
Our winners are, Jacinta Renshaw of South Burnett, Stacey Ford of Fossil Downs and Charmaine Grott of Ruby Plains.
Jacinta Renshaw, our manager, Claude’s wife, from our Queensland wagyu farms, not only for her recipe contributions, but for introducing tank art to her part of Queensland, as you will see in the book, as she says, great entertainment or therapy when needed, and only with the cost of chalk.
Stacey Ford, our manager Rick’s wife, from the iconic Fossil Downs in the Kimberley’s, the far north of West Australia. Stacey is a keen photographer, created the front cover, and each of the title pages for the book, plus included some of her favourite fossil recipes.
And, Charmaine Grott of Ruby Plains, for her lovely story, she beautifully expressed gathering around the table.
Annette Parker – Fossil Downs, WA
Kevin Jenkinson – Naryilco, QLD
Chris O’Connor – Willeroo, NT
Jodie Keogh – Innamincka, SA
Peter Telford – Caigan, NSW
Darren and Nadine Lorenz – Durrie, QLD
Chris Morrow – Nerrima, WA
Craig Leggett – Rockybank, QLD
Carley Hodge – Liveringa, WA
Sue Daubney – Bannister, WA
Let’s give another round of applause to the fantastic winning contributors and runners up who have travelled thousands of kilometres to be here with us tonight, for the books launch.
All winners, please stay with me on stage for the launch of this first limited edition of “The Things We Love.”
Now I have another lovely duty, and that’s to announce the winners for their contribution to agriculture. Please join us on stage.
Tony Seabrook, President of the PGA and the PGA, yes, the PGA executives present, please join us too.
These fine people and their organisations, truly support their respective members and agriculture in general, which is far from easy at times, thank goodness for their efforts over a very long time.
Please join us, for our book launch.
Let’s have a round of applause please for these gentlemen and their organisations.
Given the drought, shouldn’t the critical issue of water deserve greater action?
As Alan Jones notes, every day Australia has nearly four billion litres of water just sitting there not used in the Ord River system in West Australia. That’s the size of 1,600 Olympic sized swimming pools sitting there unused.
In the North East area of Queensland, 70,000 gigaliters flows out uselessly into the sea. This equates to 70,000,000 million Olympic sized swimming pools flowing past potentially more productive land out into the ocean.
Australia is also host to what is said to be the largest artesian basin in the world, the Great Artesian Basin. It covers approximately 22% of Australia including some of the most arid and semi-arid parts of our country. It’s so big it can fill Sydney Harbour 130,000 times!
Over in WA, across the average wet season, approximately 7,000 gigalitres of water is wasted as it uselessly flows through the Fitzroy out into the ocean, past many stations.
Just one years flow is about 14 times the amount of water in the huge Sydney Harbour!
As it stands in 2018, the government only allows one water licence to access water from the Fitzroy River for a mere 6 gigalitres.
This leaves approximately 99.9991% of the water to run out uselessly into the ocean.
Isn’t it sad to think we have these huge water resources available, when crops are needed to feed animals suffering in drought, and when good fresh water is much better for the welfare of cattle and other animals, this is just being wasted.
Where is the vision to better use our water to grow and sustain thousands and thousands of jobs and cattle, sheep and other livestock? Where is the vision to help parts of Australia better cope with the tragedy of droughts?
The rest of my speech concerning droughts will be on our websites.
Isn’t it time we used our water assets in a productive way for animal welfare, drought protection and to sustain and improve our economy? When our stock are suffering greatly aren’t we tired of hearing government is doing something? Talking to another department, talking to another state. We all know the government tape we need to go thru to build another dam, if were even permitted, if this is on our own property, why doesn’t government simply get out of the way?
Stagnant, unfenced water, which cattle currently are often left to drink, can be dirty and contaminated containing diseases such as E. coli and giardia, causing painful illnesses for the animals, and sometimes painful deaths.
According to American and Canadian research, cattle could put on between 15 and 28 per cent more weight over a year just by drinking clean water.
The recent CSIRO Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment report has shown that developing the Fitzroy River and catchment area would have positive benefits for agriculture and jobs.
The report found that “livestock enterprises are already proven in the Fitzroy catchment. The use of irrigated forage to overcome the feed gap, especially for lactating cows, could significantly increase beef production by increasing calving percentage, enable earlier weaning and increasing rate of weight gain.”
“Persistent waterholes that are key ecological refugia are located throughout the Fitzroy catchment. The most persistent waterholes occur along the Fitzroy River between Fitzroy Crossing and Camballin and upstream of Diamond Gorge.”
It also noted “there is much more soil suitable for irrigated agriculture in the Fitzroy catchment (area) than there is water to irrigate it.”
The CSIRO report also noted that the tropical climate in Northern Australia is unique because of “the extremely high variability of rainfall between seasons and especially between years.”)
We often hear especially in lead ups to elections, statements and presentations from Canberra and others about how their party loves agriculture, let’s make agriculture this, let’s propel agriculture to that and let’s start this promotion of agriculture program, give out more loans and government “advice,” but too often these PR exercises.
Ignore the giant elephants in the room, poor access to water caused by governments, and big governments themselves hurting, indeed jeopardising, our industry due to the costs of their governments, their tape and compliance, delays in approvals, their non-internationally competitive taxes, and their increasing licence fees, jeopardising our very ability to remain internationally cost competitive.
Whether we like how President Trump is portrayed in the media or not, what we should be seeing, is the results of his tape and tax cutting. Fantastic! In only two years, increased business and consumer confidence, increased employment, increased investment, improved standards of living, where is the party in Australia who’ll deliver that? Instead of what they’ve created, big expensive government, record debt. And can’t even pay our interest unless we borrow more. Isn’t it time that swamp was drained?
Let me give you just one example.
Over in West Australia, a friend of mine, Sarah, who lives and works and runs a small business in the beautiful Swan Valley, outside of Perth, told me recently that they have just had approvals for air conditioned Mercedes coaches to collect people from Barrack Street in Perth then take them through the Swan Valley, stopping at the wineries, cafes, restaurants and many small businesses along the valley, then back to Barrack Street.
She said this will greatly help the valley businesses, as its difficult to get a taxi in the country after a few glasses of wine, which as blind Freddy can see, cuts down business. She then asked, how long did I think it took the coach owner to get government approvals to do this?
Since 2012, 6 years! Imagine all the extra jobs, revenue, opportunities, business growth that could have happened in those 6 years! 6 years losing such revenue, jobs and opportunities. Too rarely do governments actually think of the huge cost of their tape.
She wisely said, the governments speak of helping small business yet their approvals and regulations don’t help, they do the opposite.
Let’s help our governments understand, that she’s right.
And let’s get the benefits of following President Trump’s economic policies, significant tape cuts, significant tax cuts, and less government expense.
Please have a fantastic night! Great to be with you all.
Now, it is my huge pleasure to introduce my friends, the London essentials, who are making their second visit to Australia. And they’ve learned our National Agriculture Day song. If you’d like to join in and sing this with them.