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Minister Fiona Nash and National Farmers Federation have incredible contributions to agriculture and farming industry acknowledged

David Littleproud expresses gratitude to Fiona, highlights the importance of leadership, and pledges support for various agricultural challenges, emphasising common-sense solutions and the value of storytelling.

By news@gippsland - 26th October 2023 - Back to News

Firstly, can I firstly acknowledge Fiona and the great work that she has undertaken, the legacy that she's left Australian agriculture, we as a nation should be proud that we have such a strong lady, that has forged a legacy for Australian agriculture over so many years. And now we have forged that legacy around the world and it's much to do with the NFF and the support that they've been able to provide her, the Board in what they've been able to achieve.

David Littleproud recognises Fiona's outstanding contributions to Australian agriculture, her enduring legacy, and the NFF's crucial role in its global impact

David Littleproud recognises Fiona's outstanding contributions to Australian agriculture, her enduring legacy, and the NFF's crucial role in its global impact

Acknowledging Fiona

I know that having worked with Fiona for five, six years as the Australian Agriculture Minister, that it was a great experience that the intent, the knowledge, and the values that she brought to the conversation, there was a purity of honesty about how and what was needed to be done to progress the lives of Australian farmers.

So to Fiona and her family, on behalf of a grateful nation, we say thank you for all that you've done and all that you've sacrificed and wish you all the best in the future. So to DJ, (David Jochinke), how proud I am that he's elevated to the presidency of the NFF.

Courage in agriculture

It's great to see succession, young ideas come to the table to advance Australian agriculture. And I was pleased to see that the courage and conviction, and not just him, but the entire NFF Board, to come forward today in facing up to the challenges that Australian agriculture is facing.

An extraordinary step that for the first time in 40 years have Australian farmers stood up and said that the policy settings that have been forced upon them aren't right and aren't appropriate and won't be accepted. That takes a conviction of courage. And you're going to need that. You're going to need that in your peak bodies, that their leadership is strong, that their conviction is strong, that their courage is there. But the collective is important.

And that collective is not just your leaders, that is also you to give them the confidence to reinforce the position, to make sure that the policy settings, the governments are making on you, are ones predicated on your lived experience, on what will shift the dial for Australian agriculture and particularly regional Australia, 40 years it has taken for that to come forward.

Commitment to Ag Visa

And to you DJ, you have set a marker, a marker as the new leader of the NFF. And for that I congratulate you. And we'll stand shoulder to shoulder, as I stood shoulder to shoulder with the NFF in their long pursuit for an Ag visa.

And let me give you this commitment today that The National Party will reinstate the Ag visa upon our re-election. There is a need for this. And I sat only a few metres away from Fiona at the Jobs and Skills Summit when I became the leader of The National Party. I didn't want to be a harp in opposition.

I wanted to be constructive. And so I took the principle position to turn up to the Jobs and Skills Summit to make sure that the 30 per cent of Australians that live outside of the capital city were represented. And it's important to understand that we are able to be constructive and while we support the continuation of the PALM scheme, it can't do it all.

Need for Ag Visa

Fiona clearly articulated at that conference that we needed 172,000 extra workers to get food and fibre from a paddock to your plate and on the shelves and on boats to take that product around the world. The Pacific Scheme at best can do 42,000 people and we're competing with childcare, aged care and healthcare. So there is a need for an Ag visa and we will reinstate it.

And the fact that we've already had three additional countries come forward and wanted to participate in an Ag visa once it was abolished, shows that there is interest and that we can do it and that AWU will have to step aside and no longer can they demonise Australian farmers and farming families in saying that their workers will be exploited.

The most abhorrent act I have seen from any Australian on their fellow Australians, to walk into embassies in Canberra and tell Ambassadors not to send their people to Australian farms because you will exploit them, is the most un-Australian thing I've seen.

Ag Visa and Labor policies

So regardless, we will reinstate an Ag visa and we will remove these provisions that are being thrust upon you with the PALM Scheme that is making it unviable, particularly for the horticulture sector. The averaging provisions that have been introduced make it unviable for horticulture. And we fear that there'll be further changes to the working holiday maker over the Christmas period, that'll make it even more difficult for those workers to come and work in agriculture.

We fear the 88-day aspect of that policy may be stripped away, which will leave not just agriculture, but pubs and clubs and hotels and motels across outback Australia destitute. So we will give you that commitment that a future Coalition government that The National Party is part of will reinstate the Ag visa and we will sort out the PALM scheme to be pivotal, pivotal to the labour force that you need.

That's common sense and that's what we will bring. We also want to give you a strong commitment around water policy, about making sure that you understand that there was bipartisan support for the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

Water policy commitment

And as a former Water Minister, I sat with my opposition counterpart, Tony Burke. He was the architect of the Murray-Darling Basin plan. And the 2,750 gigalitres will be recovered. It will be recovered, we believe through infrastructure and that can be done and we support the government's move to give an extension of time for those projects to be complete.

That's common sense. That's what we support. But the additional 450 gigalitres was put in place by Tony Burke. But I paid tribute to Tony Burke in that he put a safeguard mechanism over that 450 extra gigalitres, that not one megalitre of that could be recovered, if there was economic or social disadvantage to any community.

Water policy pledge

Now they want to strip their own legislation apart, where we had bipartisan support and we won't support and can't support any safeguards taken away from the additional 450 gigalitres. It's unacceptable. It will destroy communities, it won't destroy farmers, it'll destroy the communities that are left behind, the machinery dealers, the irrigation shops, right down to the cafe owners and hairdressers in these communities.

And so we'll bring common sense back to the Murray-Darling Basin plan. We're committed to delivering it in full on the 2,750 with infrastructure. But buybacks are not something that we can entertain. That's what you expect from a government that's listening and understanding your needs.

But we don't want to take away the tools of Australian farmers to produce the best food and fibre in the world, but also take away supply, which drives up everyone's price. So we give you that commitment that our water policy will be one that we signed up to in a bi-partisan way and make sure that we complete it and we have a contract with the Australian people in delivering that in the way that we said we would, which was through infrastructure, not through buybacks.

Stand for live exports

And let me say to our Western Australian friends, I made this very clear from the very first day I became the leader of The National Party. There is under no circumstances The National Party can sign up to a Coalition, with any other party, that does not support the live sheep export industry. There will be none.

There is a line in the sand that cannot be crossed and we will not be party to it. As the Minister of Agriculture, when Awassi hit, the reforms that I put in place weren't popular at times, but ones that the industry has actually embraced and engaged and now are world leading.

And I challenge the animal activists of this world to go and stow themselves on a Sudanese boat or an Ethiopian boat and take some photos on that, take some vision on that and get on an Australian boat and take some vision of that and understand that we do it better than anyone else in the world because of the reforms that we put in place.

Leading animal welfare standards

We know the millimetre of wool on the back of that sheep, to the weight, to the kilogram of that sheep. We know the number of punts per minute those sheep have on a boat. The amount of airflow that goes through each individual boat. We have put in place a regulatory framework that the industry has engaged, that now means that we have the most successful and highest animal welfare standards in the world.

And it's not just on the boat, that if we remove ourselves from that, you will also remove the processing standards that we have put in place in the country and you will see a return to what their practices once were. And if we remove ourselves, then we have no role, no opportunity to influence. We simply must stand by and let that happen. Now where is the moral compass of Animals

Defending sheep industry

Australia, they are morally bankrupt if they're going to value the welfare of a sheep from some other part of the world, over that of Australians. This is about making sure we do the right thing. As Australians, we don't cut and run. We get it right and we have got it right. And the sheep industry deserves a second chance, the same as the cattle industry had in 2011. And there is no scientific reason to shut this industry down. And anyone that thinks that we are going to be able to process them all here is living in la la land.

Because unlike Murray Watt, I went over and saw Qatar and they made it very clear to me that you should not expect to send Australian processed sheep unless you are sending live sheep. It will not be acceptable. This is cultural. This is about their food security.

Support for WA farmers

And if we are too ignorant to that and if we want to talk down to them, then there'll be other training implications to that. This is where conviction of courage of doing it right, admitting when you get it wrong and fixing it and proving to the world that you're the best in the world is something we should do.

And we support Western Australian farmers to the hill and we will reinstate the industry if this has been phased out by the time we get back into government. We want to give that investment confidence to Western Australians that this industry will continue.

Because we also fear that there is contagion risk to other industries across the country, particularly cattle. So we want to give strong commitments to you. We want to identify where there's challenges and there's further challenges that we are seeing right across this country. Whether it be this reckless race to 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

Balanced renewable solutions

We're not against renewables, it's just that we don't want to see prime agricultural land put under solar panels and wind towers and transmission lines, 28,000 kilometres of them. There's a better way to do that. We've got to 2050. We want to live up to international commitments. We've got time and we can do it properly.

But we should back ourselves with the smarts that Australians have and look to new and emerging technology like nuclear, small scale modular nuclear that can give us zero emissions, technology supported with renewables, supported with gas and coal, with carbon capture storage.

Agriculture empowerment

That's common sense. That's what you'll see from the Coalition, bringing forward an energy policy to the next election that's around affordability, reliability, and reducing your emissions. So while you may feel as though Australian agriculture is under siege, and you are, have faith and confidence in your leadership, have faith and confidence that the courage and conviction of DJ and the Board of NFF will be there to support you.

But you have to be loud and proud about what you do and how you do it. Because the good people that roam the streets out outside this very door, they want to understand you. They want to understand what you do and how you do it, but it's just something that's a little bit too big of a bridge for them to understand without understanding the currency of your story.

Your story, not politicians, but your story and your leadership in galvanising that support behind them to give them the confidence to have that courage, to tell your story, to be proud of your story.

Agriculture excellence

And what we do as Australians, we are the best in the world and we should never forget it, but we've got to make sure no one forgets it. So to you DJ and the NFF team, we'll stand shoulder to shoulder.

We believe in your industry in the purity of the purpose that you bring to this nation, what you have done for it, and what you will do for it in the future. So on behalf of the Coalition can I say thank you. Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation. Thanks for having us.

Pictures from David Littleproud MP Facebook page.


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