Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (2.18 pm): The escalating health situation interstate has justified closing Queensland borders, but the impact on farmers and our agricultural industries, especially in border communities, needs commonsense attention. The specialist nature of animal husbandry and modern agricultural production means Queensland farmers and the agricultural sector has been hit hard by the sudden border closures.
Members who represent farming communities are receiving desperate calls and messages from farmers who have been locked out of their properties south of the border. For example, under the previous arrangements, one cattle producer had an exemption pass to cross the border to his property twice a week to check the welfare, water, feed and health of his livestock. The border pass was renewed last Thursday. At 3.07 pm the next day, last Friday, he received an email advising him it was cancelled because he resides in the wrong postcode. This has placed the welfare of his livestock, including young calves, in jeopardy.
Border closures are impacting farmers and the entire agricultural supply chain. Agronomists, chemical supplies, service and maintenance supplies, mechanical engineers, shearers and tractor dealerships are no longer able to get to their farmer clients. Their industries have basically ground to a halt. Cattle breed societies are concerned because this is the time of year for stud bull sales, which are vital to ensuring the diversity of genetic stock and rebuilding herds. Horticultural growers cannot get seasonal workers who come from interstate. It is a serious challenge to farmers who are trying to harvest crops. Fruit is at risk of dying on trees and vines, and crops are being left to rot in the paddocks.
Australia’s largest beef processing facility is the JBS Dinmore plant west of Brisbane. It has a normal daily operating capacity of 3,400 head. From Monday, 24 August, it will shut for at least a fortnight due to difficulties in generating viable kills in the face of a drought impacted livestock supply.
That is a sign of a struggling industry. Compounding this is news from internal departmental leaks from DAF which confirm the department is stopping face-to-face counter services to farmers in Bundaberg, Mackay, Boonah, Charleville, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Dalby, Emerald, Gayndah, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Longreach, Maryborough, Roma, Hermitage, Kingaroy, Mareeba and Maroochydore—all while two-thirds of the state suffers through drought. This is a disgraceful attack on our farmers by Labor.
Queensland farmers understand they need to share the load during this pandemic. They also expect a fair go. Common sense should prevail when it comes to managing the daily operations of businesses that provide our essential food and fibre. I am calling on the Premier to work with our farmers and rural and regional communities to get the balance right and make sure border closures do not do more harm than good.