FRIDAY, 24 JUNE 2016
SUBJECT/S: Beef Week 2018, Establishment of an Institute for Biosecurity.

LEISA NEATON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: It’s great to be here today. We’re talking about Beef Week 2018 and I’m very pleased to have the Shadow Agriculture Minister here with me, Joel Fitzgibbon. You would have seen already that we’ve made an announcement about Beef Week and we’ve been talking with Russell this morning about just how important this event is to the local economy here as well as the whole of economy of Australia so I’ll hand over to Joel.

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS: Thanks Leisa. It’s great to be here with Leisa campaigning with her, she is an outstanding candidate. We obviously believe the Labor Party and Leisa have a very very fine chance here in Capricornia, here in Rockhampton and it’s a delight to be on the campaign trail with her. Later I’ll go to the Regional Universities Network Debate which I look forward to. There is nothing more important to rural and regional Australia then a quality education system whether it be schools or higher education. But as Leisa indicated, I’m here to reaffirm Labor’s commitment to Beef Week, some $3.1 million. I fondly remember coming to the sale yards here with Kevin Rudd in 2013 - then as Minister - to make the same announcement and we remain committed to what is such an important event for the regio n. I’m also here to talk about our Institute for Biosecurity. The biggest challenge in agriculture in terms of our future productivity is invasive species. We need a war on weeds; we need to be dealing with pest animals and of course the threats to our plants. We are committing $76 million to ensure that the research that we require in invasive species is available and flows down on the ground to our farming community. $5 billion is a significant amount of money. You can’t have a productivity agenda in agriculture if you don’t have a very firm commitment to dealing with the very serious problem of invasive species. I thank Russell for giving us an update this morning on the Beef Week planning. Very extensive, very hard work involved mate and I’m always impressed when I come here to hear how innovative you are being in terms of your planning for Beef Week but also the way in which you roll out what is a very very successful event for the town and the r egion.

JOURNALIST: So beyond Beef Week and the Institute what else can Labor offer beef farmers?

FITZGIBBON: Well I’ll be announcing Labor’s Agriculture Policy sometime next week, well and truly before polling day and obviously I’ll have a bit more to say about that then. But we are committed to sustainable profitability. Sustainable profitability underpins everything I do in agriculture and of course that means both lifting productivity but also dealing with a changing climate and how we ensure that we get the best possible return from our limited natural resources. We can’t stick our head in the sand and ignore a changing climate. Government’s need to work with growers and producers to ensure that they’re embracing the best land management practices, utilising our natural resources in the most efficient way and therefore lifting productivity and lifting the return to the producer and the grower. That’s what underpins my approach to agriculture and you’ll see me sayin g plenty about that next week.

JOURNALIST: In Cape York a famer [inaudible] to prevent runoff into the Great Barrier Reef. Is that something that Federal Labor would open to dealing with or discussing with farmers?

FITZGIBBON: I know no more about that issue then what I’ve seen in the media in my time here this week in Queensland. But I do know absolutely that we need to protect the Reef. It’s worth literally billions of dollars to the regional economies here and there is no doubt that agriculture is one of the issues we need to deal with in terms of its impacts on the Reef. Now this of course is always also a benefit to farmers. When we invest public money in protecting the Reef from runoff from farms for example, we are also investing in the productivity of farms. So we will continue to work with the agriculture sector to ensure that they can both play a role in protecting the Reef but as a consequence they also become more productive and therefore more profitable.

JOURNALIST: Why does the Labor Party not consider the [inaudible] a priority investment?

FITZGIBBON: Well you know I’ve watched Barnaby Joyce with great interest over the last few years. He’s had three years to do something about water infrastructure but five minutes to midnight he is now running around the country offering money here there and anywhere usually without any consultation with the Queensland Government. But of course everything Barnaby Joyce does in water infrastructure is conditional. And it’s conditional upon the Queensland Government making a substantial contribution. One would have thought that if he is expecting a Queensland Government contribution that he might have consulted the Queensland Government before making these announcements so close to Election Day.

FITZGIBBON: Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Can I just talk to Russell about some of his plans.

JOURNALIST: How are plans for Beef 2018 going?

RUSSELL HUGHES, VICE CHAIR OF BEEF AUSTRALIA: Planning is well underway, we are still a couple of years away of course but things are starting to cement in and we are looking for a bigger and better event. I guess here today I’d personally like to on behalf of the Board, our management and staff thank the Australian Labor Party in particular the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon for their support of Beef Australia which in 2015 generated in excess of $74 million for the Central Queensland economy.

JOURNALIST: And it would be quite encouraging that you do have a commitment from both parties for Beef Week.

HUGHES: It is. We value all of our sponsors from our primary and our corporate sponsors down to the mums and dads businesses of Central Queensland that like to get behind this event every 3 years because they obviously see value in it and they get a return from it.

FITZGIBBON: Thank you very much everyone.

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