Parliamentary Discussion on Northern Australia

10 November 2015

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Trade and Investment. Since the northern loans plan’s $50 million requirement eliminates northerners, it will stop the northern beef on-farm irrigation plan, worth $6 billion a year. And since the government’s largesse²according to The Australian Financial Review on Monday²goes to Darwin port owners, Wilmar Sugar and JBS Swift²all monopolistic foreign corporations with plantation farming, foreign fly-ins, contractors and mill workers²what benefit is this to Australia?

Mr PYNE (Sturt Leader of the House and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (14:18): In order to assist the member for Kennedy, I think it might be better if he were to direct that question to the Minister for Agriculture rather than the Minister for Trade and Investment, since it is a question about the northern Australia white paper.

Mr JOYCE (New England Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (14:19): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a proper question, and I acknowledge the great work that the member has done over such a long period of time, representing the people of northern Australia in the great seat of Kennedy.

What a great turnaround this government has brought about, best seen, of course, by the record prices we are currently getting in cattle. I see that lately we are loading cattle from the North for up to $3.40 to $3.60 bracket. This is the sort of money that brings a real difference to people’s lives, that brings real dignity into their lives. This is the sort of money that brings the capacity for people of the North, like anywhere else, to have the spare cash so that they can renovate their kitchens, buy themselves a new car, go on holidays and live with a dignity in their life²which would be expected of people who are doing so much in, some instances, hard terrain and remoteness.

But it does not just stop there. There is so much that we envisage to do. We have, at this point in time, spoken to the states. The states are now getting back to us about the $50 million and the feasibility for the construction of new dams. We have, around Australia, a further $450 million that is sitting in behind that, so that we can go forward on projects that have been suggested to us, such as stage 3 of the Ord, such as the Nullinga Dam²I know that up at Warren Vale, up in the North, they are owned by Stanbroke up there. They have a big irrigation project that they are trying to get underway there, and, even on that, we are looking at a turnaround from about 150,000 kilograms of beef per year to over four million kilograms of beef per year, just off that place alone. This is the sort of remarkable turnaround that we can produce not only for the people of Kennedy but also for the people of Australia. This is the return not only to Cloncurry but also to Collins Street as well. This is happening under this government.

But it does not just stop there. We have seen the money that we have put aside for the beef roads. We acknowledge that to try and drive this industry forward we have to have 24-hour access so that we can get from the property to the port. We are now seeing, soon, I believe, that Townsville will become the biggest loading spot for live cattle, and it needs to be attached to that 24-hour access. It is not just there. We have seen through the white paper the process that has happened with the 100 per cent write-off on water reticulation; in the re-fencing of a lot of those areas and some of the Indigenous lands areas, a 100 per cent write-off for fencing; and a write-off over three years for fodder storage. We know that our vision is in the North. We know that we have a plan for the North. I absolutely commend the member for Kennedy for this question because we can see that we are absolutely delivering for the North.

Courtesy of Hansard

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