Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (2.00 pm): As Queensland tries to dig itself out of the economic hole from the coronavirus pandemic, the Palaszczuk Labor government continues to fail rural and regional communities with its lacklustre and underwhelming support. It is no secret the agriculture and fishing and forestry industries are vital to keep Queensland going during these difficult and challenging times. Unfortunately, there has been a glaring lack of recognition and support for these important sectors. Labor’s sales pitch for the government’s economic recovery is an eight-page glossy brochure titled Unite and recover for Queensland jobs. Other than a front cover picture of cattle, there are no announcements for the agriculture sector. In fact, agriculture is only mentioned once in the whole unite Queensland plan, describing it as a ‘traditional strength’.
This Brisbane-centric, anti-regional Labor government is taking our hardworking farmers and agriculture sector for granted. Labor’s disdain for the sector is underpinned by a hapless and incompetent agriculture minister. Minister Furner’s incompetence was shown when he sat back and allowed farmers to be denied access to their firearm and weapons retailers even though weapons are essential tools for food and fibre production. The inaction was in keeping with Labor’s ideological opposition to these tools of trade. The minister’s mess was only fixed after pressure from the LNP.
Together with the Premier, Minister Furner kowtowed to Chinese pressure rather than support ‘Team Australia’ and defend our 18,000 beef processing workers and $6.9 billion export industry.
Minister Furner sits back and does nothing for Queensland’s 124 micro and small wildlife exhibitors who provide jobs for 300 employees. They have begged for help as they struggle to fund significant food bills when no money is coming in. No industry is immune. The forestry industry is hurting. Timber Queensland has asked for a stimulus package to keep the forestry industry turning. Gympie is a timber town. Locals know and understand the importance of the forestry industry. It should not be taken for granted.
Minister Furner and the government continue to disgracefully snub our commercial fishers.
Hundreds of fishing businesses still must pay thousands to the government for boat fees, fishing licence fees and safe food accreditation, despite the collapse of demand and revenue. The minister refuses to even consider waiving these fees while other states like New South Wales have waived them. It is reprehensible and speaks volumes of the minister’s contempt for the sector.
The litany of inaction continues. There has been no direct assistance for overnight charter boat operators. There are still no answers about what will happen to drought support after Labor’s cuts come into effect from 1 July. There have been no answers about the future of the former agriculture education college in Emerald. Fire ants continue to spread despite extra money being poured into questionable so-called eradication efforts. The ants are now only a stone’s throw away from the New South Wales border. We must stop this invasive pest in its tracks.