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Debates and Questions Day 2 - 8 May 2019



Debates and Questions Day 2 - 8 May 2019

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Parliamentary Record 19


Debates and Questions for 13th Assembly 2019 - 2020; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




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Debates; Questions

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Wednesday 8 May 2019 6112 This motion gives us the opportunity to speak about the agribusiness industries in the Northern Territory. As the Member for Nelson said, we recently had the opportunity to go to the field days at Katherine and Douglas Daly. It was a great opportunity to hear from the industrys mouth how things are tracking on the land. There were productive discussions on cotton and some of the other things the member mentioned. We will continue those discussions with industry. I commend Alister Trier, his team in the department and all the hard work they do. There is no way I will be able to list all the dedicated work they do and all the portions of industry we look to support. We will seek to amend this motion and ensure it reads, That this Assembly recognises that the agribusiness sector is a critical part of the Northern Territory economy; notes that changes in domestic and international market conditions, environmental factors, logistics, infrastructure and government decision-making, all impact on the success of the agribusiness sector; and government will continue its work in the agribusiness sector in developing and implementing cooperative plans to build agribusiness in the Northern Territory. Agribusiness is a business of agricultural production, largely built around the production of the most important commodities for food. That is why it is extremely important to all of us. Budget 201920 notes that in financial year 201718, the industry share of the Territorys gross state product was 2.9%, ahead of the 10-year average of 2.3%. One of the examples of the activities the NT Farmers Association noted, was that approximately $25m of farming produce is transported interstate each year. More than half the Australian produce of mangoes comes from the Territoryaround four million trays of mangoes per annum. We learned about half of that comes from the Katherine region, which they are rightly very proud of. It is an industry that is always looking for an opportunity and for innovation. That was a big part of what we discussed at the field days we were at. The ABS statistics have determined that there are about 1700 jobs in agriculture, forestry and fishing in the Northern Territory alone. This is why it is important to us as an employer and as the economic driver of activity through the regions and remote areas. There is a massive population to the north of us and any ability that we have to gain access, or further our access, into those markets is critical for us to do. We have mentioned the drought at different times. The young cattlemen spoke about that after this afternoons Question Time, when I met briefly with them. There are tens of thousands of head of cattle being moved around the Northern Territory at the moment because of the conditionsthat is something we need to be aware of. I pay my respects to the good pastoralists and the people on the land, who recognised some time ago that they would have to start separating their heads of cattle out of the Territory. This was because they knew there would be some tough times ahead. Alice Springs pasture growth is well below average, with the majority of the district experiencing extremely low growtharound 10%, which is the lowest on recordfrom what we are told. It is a timely reminder of the vulnerabilities of the agribusiness sector. We talk about the boom and bust economy in the Northern Territory and the risks that go with it. If we had the opportunity, we would all take some of the risk out of farming. Unfortunately, no matter what we do it will evidently always be reliant on conditions, particularly the rain. Citrus canker is at the front of our minds at the moment. That is a good reminder of why biosecurity threats around the nation need to be taken seriously. We are proud that we have continued to invest in the Berrimah Farm, so those offices and laboratories are staffed to the best of their abilities and so they are upgraded and maintained with the best quality equipment. This is so we keep all our produce safe. Our livestock producers can be exposed to changes in trade policy as well. These heavily impact on their capacity to supply international markets. We are pleased that in 2018 the live export of cattle from the Northern Territory was valued at $520m, which is up 33% from 2017. We have already supplied about a third of the live exports to Indonesia. Opportunities are expected to increase as a consequence of the new freetrade agreements signed in March this year. More generally, NT pastoralists generate more than 85% of the NTs primary production value. The cattlerelated industries contribute around $1bn annually to the Territory economy. On average around 600 000 cattle are turned off NT pastures annually.

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