SUBJECT: Queensland sugar dispute, China extradition treaty
TUESDAY, 28 MARCH 2017
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Barnaby Joyce keeps threatening a code of conduct for the sugar industry. He says it’s in the drawer. Well Deputy Prime Minister, pull the code of conduct out of the drawer and show us what it looks like. Both the growers the millers, the Queensland Government and the broader Australian community is entitled to know what this mythical code of conduct looks like. While you’re at it Barnaby Joyce, pull the Productivity Commission Report into Regulation in the farm sector out as well. You have had it since November, but you won’t release it. Barnaby Joyce must release the Productivity Commission Report today. Why is he hiding the report? Because it is highly critical of everything he has been saying about Queensland sugar. Barnaby Joyce needs to get out of the way. He claimed this morning that the finding that the Queensland legislation is unconstitutional was wrong. Barnaby Joyce QC? Well Barnaby, here’s something else to get out of the drawer. Give us the advice that tells you the Queensland legislation, that you backed so heavily with the Katter Party, is constitutional. You can’t believe a thing Barnaby Joyce says. There’s no transparency in this government. Barnaby Joyce is telling porkies again today. The best thing he can do for Queensland growers is to get out of the way. The Queensland Government is one inch from settling this dispute in Queensland. We need a resolution, we needed it weeks ago. Barnaby Joyce is trying to make out he is a player in this matter. Weeks ago he said if the Queensland Government doesn’t act and the Queensland parliament doesn’t act, he will act for them. He’s full of hollow threats. Barnaby Joyce has nothing. He can prove me wrong today, pull out the code of conduct, pull out the Productivity Commission’s Report which criticises him and pull out this fictional advice he has that the Queensland legislation is constitutional.
JOURNALIST: Bit of mixed messaging there Joel. You’re saying pull out the contract but you are also at the same time saying step out of the way. So do you want the Government to show their hand on a potential Federal code of conduct or do you want them to tear it up?
FITZGIBBON: Barnaby Joyce is emboldening those who are playing hard ball in the contract negotiations. This is not about the millers and the growers, this is about the Australian economy and an outcome for everyone. Every time Barnaby Joyce threatens to intervene, he sends the wrong signals to those in the negotiations. He should just get out of the way. We are one inch away from fixing this problem. A problem that should have been fixed 18 months ago. Why wasn’t it fixed? Because the LNP and Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen backed a piece of Queensland legislation which the Queensland Government opposed because it was dumb and of course it took 18 months for people to work out that legislation was never going to work and in any case was unconstitutional. This dispute has been protracted and has gone on for so long because people like George Christensen and Barnaby Joyce and the minor parties and LNP in Queensland are trying to make heroes of themselves. This dispute is almost complete and success has many fathers. Barnaby Joyce can see that it is almost fixed and he is lining himself up to claim credit it for it with his mythical idea that he pushed people with this magical code of conduct he says he has in his drawer. Well Barnaby, get it out. If he does get it out I’d suspect it’s a code of conduct written entirely in the office of George Christensen. Well that I would like to see but I am sure it’s not something the growers or the millers or the people of Queensland would like to see.
JOURNALIST: If this federal code of conduct to materialise, would Labor back it in?
FITZGIBBON: Well if it’s George Christensen’s code of conduct, no. If it’s a seriously considered code of conduct undertaken in consultation with the sector, possibly- it can do no harm, but I know there has been no consultation with the sector if it’s a code of conduct that hasn’t been done in consultation then it’s a bad code of conduct. But in any case, a code of conduct produced today, but not yet in place and would take many months to put in place will not resolve the sugar dispute in Queensland. There’s a time issue here. This dispute needs to be fixed today. We can’t wait for a magical code of conduct to come along in a few months or longer. It’s just not an option for us. Barnaby Joyce knows that but he wants people to believe that somehow he has put in the fix. Well he has no fix. The fact he won’t show us his magical code of conduct I think is evidence of that.
JOURNALIST: Where do you stand on the Australia China extradition?
FITZGIBBON: I will just say, on China and the extradition treaty, I was obviously part of the cabinet discussion last night and it was a long and well considered discussion. It is not an easy issue for anyone involved. I’m not here to announce what the shadow cabinet concluded last night, we have a party process to go through in the caucus this morning so we will wait for that to follow its normal course. But suffice to say, this is an issue the Labor Party takes very seriously and we won’t come to any conclusion on the matter until we have properly considered all the issues involved.