THE Coalition Government’s commitment to supporting the live export industry has been reaffirmed in Parliament this week.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch took an opportunity in Question Time yesterday to highlight to the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, the plight of livestock cattle exporters in his electorate who were “severely compromised” by Labor’s sudden ban on live exports to Indonesia in 2011.
Mr Entsch asked: “What action is the minister taking to deliver a sustainable livestock export trade that increases economic returns to farmers and exporters in the long term?”
In his response, Mr Joyce acknowledged Mr Entsch’s concerns and said that Labor’s knee-jerk response “personified what the former government was about”.
“It was a sad day indeed when we woke up and found out that the country was not actually being run by the Labor government; it was being run by Four Corners – when we found out that one of our closest trading relationships, one of our most important partnerships, had been basically taken through the mud by reason of the rash and irrational actions of a government that just could not come to grips with the hard decisions.”
Mr Joyce said it was important to recognise that from the moment the opportunity came to assist the industry, the Coalition “put their shoulder to the wheel” and traveled to regional areas to meet with the people who were suffering from a situation not of their making.
“We had to do what we could within our power to try and assist,” he said.
“Over the short duration of this Coalition Government, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Investment and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have been to Indonesia, and in this quarter we will more than double the number of cattle going to Indonesia.
“We will stand by this industry. In fact, we hope it grows, because we stand by the return to the farm gate that this industry represents.”
Mr Entsch said he was still “strongly supportive” of the work being done by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, who are very advanced in developing opportunities to export North Queensland cattle to Papua New Guinea to build their national herd.
Mr Joyce added that his department will also take a delegation to Indonesia in the future to build on their relationship, expand the trade and “show that we can bring dignity back to the people of Northern Australia and to this industry”.
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