National Agriculture and Related Industries day | 21 November 2021 | Speech by Gina Rinehart

By 21/11/2021News

Speech by Gina Rinehart
National Agriculture and Related Industries Day Speech
21 November 2021

This year, our fifth annual National Agriculture and Related Industries day, we had planned one of the biggest celebrations ever to mark our appreciation of all those in agriculture and this important national day.

Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of COVID restrictions, we had to postpone our event. Please join us in the Whitsundays next national day, November 21, 2022.

National Agriculture & Related Industries Day is our day to come together and hold celebrations across the country to acknowledge the over three hundred thousand hard working men and women across our essential industry.

I love to visit our people on rural properties across Australia. Please join me in very enthusiastic applause for the hard working men, women and teenagers, in our agricultural industry throughout Australia who our country is so very fortunate to have.

Let me say, I admire your common sense, sense we need much more of, especially in government, and your good Aussie values, and your huge contribution every day, rain hail or shine, droughts floods fires, despite many many difficulties, to our country.

Frankly, I think we should have National Agriculture and Related Industries Week, rather than day! If you agree, would you like to write to your Federal Minister and copy to the Federal Agriculture Minister, and preferably all Cabinet Ministers too.

As Thomas Jefferson said “agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to our real wealth, good morals and happiness.”

Our new CEO of Agriculture, John McKillop has added: “Agriculture has always been the backbone of this great nation. From the early days of European settlement, in times of war, droughts and floods, people on the land keep toiling, producing food and fibre for the nation and the world, facing challenges that city-folk could hardly imagine. For them, a labour shortage means a longer wait for a latte, but for those on the land, it means the milk doesn’t even make it to the café.”

The pandemic has demonstrated yet again, that we in the agricultural industry are a resilient group of Australians, doing what we can to withstand uncertain and difficult times.

We have proactively sought to diversify international markets we export to and have continued to increase the range of products we produce.

And again, we’ve battled through tough problems facing Australian agriculture.

This past year of difficulties have been increased given the consequences of years of severe drought, fires, floods, plus, uncertainty of international trade relationships mainly when dealing with China on exports such as barley and wine, access to farmworkers, COVID, rising international freight costs, and pests, in particular the mouse plague that I know of firsthand on our Queensland farms, plus the rising numbers of dingoes and other wild dogs and feral beasts, plus rising numbers of crocodiles.

And as always, the increasing mountain of government paperwork, now on top of all this, the big elephant in the room, our federal government’s commitment to net zero.

As Will Rogers said: “The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn’t still be a farmer!”

My goodness, other than farmers with a few iron mines to help their bank balances, how on earth after so many bad years depleting farmers resources, can those in agriculture be expected to dish out for, electric vehicles, approximately double the cost of fossil fuelled vehicles, solar panels be that for high cost power installations, or even lessor costs for isolated lights, or solar panels on accommodation to enable hot water when the sun shines, or the greater costs added to the transport industries of new non fossil trucks and locos, affecting all supplies farmers need, and the costs of them having to shift stock, for markets and otherwise, plus raised costs for suppliers affected by net zero expenditures, or all the other many costs involved in meeting net zero.

Unlike our neighbour and agriculture competitor New Zealand, that carved out agriculture from its emissions, and didn’t waste taxpayers money going to the Glasgow experience, which in itself sure added to emissions, more than our belching cows, if one truly added up all the emissions that around the world get together caused, not limited to the jets toing and froing across the world, including from far away Australia, but including all their accommodation and heating and washing and cleaning and lighting and meals involved, ground transport, not limiting to some show EVs, conferences and more.

It’s hard to know the real figures involved in agriculture emissions, but in Australia, it’s generally estimated that around 11 percent of our emissions are from agriculture, some 70 percent of that 11 percent from livestock. Watch out belching cows, many left green activists aim for less livestock in our country. But it gets worse, if you look at another site, national greenhouse inventory, which states 14 percent of Australian emissions are from agriculture, 11 percent from livestock.

So, I assumed this was yet another left-wing activist organisation, but guess what, this is a body us taxpayers fund, from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, from their August 31st, 2021, quarterly report. And I repeat our government has not excluded agriculture from net zero commitments, deserting all their base of supporters in agriculture. And 14 percent agricultural emissions, is what at least that department makes available to our government.

I know you all have long days, often exhausting days, starting work early each morning, and many have to stay up late at night contending with increasing government paperwork, but somehow you will need to make time out of each day, to stand up for our industry.

Sending in online comments to the less left media who permit online comments, and via Facebook and other social media, letters to media, don’t be discouraged if not published, keep going, going on talkback radio, writing to your Members of Parliament, repeatedly, and encouraging your suppliers, friends and families to do likewise.

I know our fantastic industry shouldn’t have to do this, but we shouldn’t take the attitude of burying our heads in the sand and this will all go away. I promise you, it won’t.

The Federal Government cocoon which is increasingly isolated from agriculture and small businesses, together the largest private employers in Australia,  are they going to stop moves to reduce the numbers of our belching livestock, which are the major sector of our income earning agricultural industry?

Common sense asks, how on earth can we increase Ag revenue, if the major part of such revenue is from livestock! We hear about replacing natural feed for our livestock with seaweed pellets, yet no mention of tax and license fee cuts so that livestock owners can try to afford these seaweed pellets!

I can almost hear some of you laughing, do those in government even know how much a cow eats each day! Let’s remind our politicians, that the polls show, one of the concern of voters, is not limiting agriculture, but growing the economy.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” Good one wasn’t it.

Our industry is only just starting to recover after the vast difficulties I’ve mentioned, plus the elephant of net zero, with repeated reference of having to lessen stock numbers, we can and should try to assist our industry to survive and grow by continuing to reform the legislation that impacts Australian Agriculture, some ideas follow:

  1. To help the labour shortage and resulting supplies delay problems, allowing pensioners, who want to work, the ability to do so without experiencing hefty tax rates or large percentages of their pension being taken away. This will require changes to the government’s pension arrangements, and in my view will give pensioners who wish to work, a great improvement in their lives, even if just to put on solar panels for hot water, or buying an electric vehicle, or warmer clothes and doonas to save heating bills, home insulation to lessen increasing heating and cooling bills, to help the governments net zero agenda! Perhaps we need to remind our net zero immersed government, that without our increasing elderly population being able to afford net zero requirements, how can they meet their net zero, other than even more draconian measures to limit industry.
  2. Greatly reducing unnecessary government tape and license fees in high cost Australia, and eliminating payroll tax and stamp duty, both of which were meant to go decades ago, when state governments were supposed to live off GST and hefty mining royalties. As Ronald Reagan famously said “governments first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
  3. Allowing farmers to clear their land to decrease the risk of devastating and dangerous bushfires, plus compensation for government regulations causing fires to spread, through restricting clearing and not looking after state forests and national parks so they became tinder boxes and helped to cause the spreading of fires. And returning money charged to farmers for fines, for clearing to protect their family, staff, pets and infrastructure.
  4. Implementing special economic zones across the north of Australia, which zones have less government tape and taxes. Plus, more economic zones around Australia, for instance covering export ports and adjacent industrial areas. More than 5000 of these special economic zones exist successfully around the world, even various of our competitors have them.
  5. Recognising that for the agriculture industry, water is king, letting farmers build dams, plus where the country is suitable, building hydroelectricity projects, enabling more water for agriculture, water that otherwise flows uselessly to the sea. And to do so without more years of delay. We’ve noted in Queensland, it’s government can move its environmental and other government tape when it thinks it will get votes in so doing, e.g. the proposed hydrogen plant at Gladstone, in the state development area, which will need to use much water, and unlike livestock, is flammable and combustible. How long did that approval take from when the premier announced this project and some taxpayer millions to help fund, approx. one month! My goodness, it takes about two years in West Australia to get approval for one turkey nest, so stock can drink on the often long treks to stockyards.
    Mates of agriculture, need to speak up!
  6. Making the changes necessary to protect our beef and lamb from having its reputation for safe, wholesome, nutritious food, without chemicals, tarnished by some of the fake-meat manufacturers, who when or if they add Chemicals, should so state.
  7. By compensating farmers for the loss of property rights when the Howard Government incentivised the states to introduce tree clearing bans, solely for the purpose of meeting the targets agreed to at Kyoto.

We hear much noise rather than facts about how the green industry will create new jobs.

Well I know the miles of solar panels will need wiping to be effective, and the millions of dead bats and birds, lives claimed by wind power infrastructure, will need collecting and burying, and industry created to deal somehow with the old solar panels, maybe burying, if economical ways can’t be found without government handouts to deal with the millions of solar panels, panels which will need changing every 8 to 10 years, to maintain effectiveness.

And other taxpayer funded green industries, maybe including manufacturing and transporting seaweed pellets. I’m not sure if you’re excited by such new green industries, or working in factories to build the new green this or that that most in the agricultural industry won’t be able to afford, or would prefer staying on your own farms, and truly contributing to feeding our fellow countrymen, and supplying our produce to countries who need our produce. Which our industry does so well and should be rightly proud of.

I have struggled to find positive messages to include, but feel I’d be failing as Patron, if I didn’t speak frankly, with concerns about the future of our essential industry, an industry iconic to our country, our culture and our history. Our farmers are largely still struggling, please consider ways you can help, be that via Rural Aid, Royal Flying Doctor Service or other fine rural based charities.

Let me include some positive quotes we’ve found and have in our Hancock Agriculture calendar this year, photos of pages I’ve been showing during this speech.

George Washington said: “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.”

John Connell has said: “To be a farmer is to be a student forever, for each day brings something new.”

And Franklin Roosevelt who said: “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

Who working on the land, with their children working with them, have any doubt of how well these youth are doing. Children we can be very proud of, and children who represent their hard-working background well, as they enter our military and Olympic teams, with greater proportions than those from non-rural backgrounds.

I would also like to mention, with an increased spotlight on our industry, please don’t let our industry down with animal cruelty. We should be aiming to make our cattle happy to last day at an abattoir, or until they leave our shores.

We’ve chosen to invest hugely in this, changing the culture so that all our staff appreciate “happy healthy cattle are the best cattle.”

We’ve added inter alia, head rests and padding to our weaner cradles, reduced the size of our branding irons, provided more shade at water troughs and nearby, plus provided extra shade in our birthing paddocks, our stockyards and elsewhere.

This has cost us millions, given the large extent of our holdings across Australia, we did this not because of any legislation, but because we want to do the best for our livestock.

We’d like to do more, and additional water facilities and ability to grow grains, would help us look after our cattle more especially in bad seasons.

No farmer wants to see their stock starve in bad seasons, or die from lack of food or sufficient water.

Why I have to point this out is beyond me, but we need to do this repeatedly, as its far too clear, government isn’t listening, and don’t understand that their lack of letting us have water, and the increase in their other tape, doesn’t help our industry, and now net zero.

Ending on a positive note, poultry, fertilisers and farm machinery are touted to be leading performers this financial year in the agricultural sector, of course, the last two depend on a healthy agriculture industry, as do all the industries that agriculture supports.

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree,” from an ancient proverb, and “in winter’s chill or summer’s heat, farmers work so the world can eat.”

Please join me in another enthusiastic round of applause, for all in our agriculture industry.

Happy National Agriculture & Related Industries Day!