SUBJECTS: Productivity Commission’s report into regulation of the agriculture industry, Queensland sugar dispute.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: This is the report Barnaby Joyce commissioned but has been hiding for the last five months. Why has he been hiding it? Because it states everything that’s wrong with the Turnbull Government and everything that is wrong with Barnaby Joyce’s approach to agriculture policy. It puts lie to the idea that the effects test, an amendment to the Consumer Competition Act, is going to magically fix all the problems faced by our farmers. It bells the cat on Barnaby Joyce’s insistence that we lower the screening threshold for foreign investment in agriculture saying it’s going to have a chilling effect on investment and that it’s going to be bad for farmers and it says that Barnaby Joyce’s and the Federal Government’s interference in the sugar industry in Queensland is going to be bad for growers, bad for millers and bad for the country. This is one of three documents I asked Barnaby Joyce to release yesterday. The Productivity Commission report, Barnaby Joyce’s magical and mystical code of conduct which he says he has in his drawer but we are yet to see. This is a code of conduct for the sugar industry and of course his apparent legal advice that the Queensland legislation into the sugar industry is constitutional after all. Well Barnaby Joyce is all hat and no cowboy. He can’t keep running around the country blaming other people and claiming credit for things he has no claim to whatsoever. Barnaby Joyce needs to get out of the way with respect to the Queensland sugar industry. Let the Queensland Government guide the commercial players to a logical and successful conclusion. Barnaby Joyce needs to respond to this report. He wanted this report. It was part of one of the recommendations in his agriculture white paper, yet this is the report he doesn’t want to talk about today. We haven’t heard one word in response from Barnaby Joyce in response to this report - a damning condemnation of his approach to Australian agriculture. Barnaby Joyce needs to put the spin behind and start doing some real and meaningful work if we are to capitalise on the great opportunities available to Australian agriculture.