FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says the Coalition has “no interest” in representing the interests of Australian farmers in Federal Parliament, having only asked a single question on agriculture this year, in parliament.
He says that’s a damning mid-year report card for the Liberals and Nationals.
Minister Ludwig said despite the amount of talk and posturing from the Liberals and Nationals on standing up for the bush, their real record speaks for itself.
“So far this year the Liberal party hasn’t been bothered to ask me a single question in question time about agriculture, fisheries or forestry,” he said.
“The National Party haven’t done much better, asking a solitary question this year.
“That’s the sort of service the people of rural and regional Australia get from Senator (Barnaby) Joyce and the Nationals.”
Minister Ludwig said the lack of questions was a consequence of the Liberal and National Party’s “obsession with negativity”.
“While the Liberal and National parties have been sitting on their hands, this government has been getting on the business of delivering for farmers,” he said.
“In the last six months alone we’ve secured $2.2 billion for Caring for our Country for the next five years, we’ve continued to deliver reforms that protect our unique biosecurity status, and we’ve rolled out the Carbon Farming Initiative that will bring new opportunities for Australian farmers.
“This has been on the backdrop of strong growth in agricultural exports, the end of the drought, and the opening of new trade markets."
But the Coalition says there’s a lot more to their political performance than merely addressing farming or rural issues during parliamentary question time.
Senator Joyce’s office defended the claims, saying he and other party members regularly addressed issues related to agricultural or rural policies, like the Carbon Tax, which will hit agriculture hard due to increased input costs.
They also highlight concerns through Matters of Public Interest, on issues like the Murray Darling Basin, live cattle exports, Coal Seam Gas Mining and regional development.
Nationals NSW Senator and active grain and sheep farmer Fiona Nash said there was a common theme from the government about the Coalition’s negativity and that of its leader Tony Abbott.
But she said if the government provided some decent policy, “we would not have to say 'no' and it’s as simple as that”.
“It is 'no' because the policies this government continues to put before us and before the Australian people are so bad."