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Importance Of The Horticulture Industry

February 15, 2021

I would like to thank the member for Nicholls for bringing this motion. It is an incredible opportunity for me to talk about the benefits and the great the virtues of the Macarthur electorate. The Macarthur electorate is named after John and Elizabeth Macarthur, widely known as the founders of the Australian wool industry, but in fact they were the founders of the Australian horticulture industry. Camden Park, their property, still exists. It is part of the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute which surrounds Camden Park. Camden Park is still owned by the descendants of John and Elizabeth Macarthur. John Macarthur and Edwina Macarthur Stanham still live there. On that property are the remnants of the founding of the Australian horticulture industry. There are the grapevines. There are orchards which demonstrate where Australian agriculture and horticulture first started.

It's interesting that the reasons for the beginning of that horticultural industry then are similar to the situation we find ourselves in now, in that we have difficulty accessing markets, difficulty accessing foods that we want so we have to grow them ourselves. So it is very opportune that this motion is being moved. I think that John and Elizabeth Macarthur would be very upset if they saw what had happened to much of the agricultural land around their original property, which has now succumbed, unfortunately, to urban sprawl, because governments have decided that this urban sprawl, these houses, are much more valuable than the agricultural land that they're built on. It is a shame to see that some of the orchards that were there in my childhood are now houses for what is effectively urban sprawl. There are still, however, a large number of Macarthur residents who work in the agricultural and horticultural sector and we still have a number of large farms in the area. As I've mentioned, the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute is, at least partly, in my electorate of Macarthur.

As a society there are many lessons that we have learnt from the pandemic—which is still ongoing. One of those was that we should plan adequately for any eventuality and we should plan our workforce adequately. Unfortunately, this is something that the federal government hasn't learnt. We haven't had cooperation in getting a workforce to our agricultural and horticultural sector like we should of, and we're paying the price for that in lack of people to pick our fruit and to till our soils. This could have been planned for much more adequately had the government sought to work cooperatively with the state governments around the country. From Tasmania to the Northern Territory, to Queensland, to Western Australia it could have been done much, much better. Our horticultural products are the best in the world.

I look forward, with great excitement, to the developments around the aerotropolis of Western Sydney Airport with our high value agricultural products being able to get to markets around the world due to the access to the airport.

Unfortunately, the transport around the airport has not been developed adequately—particularly from the south, where most of the agricultural land is. That will further limit our ability to get our high-value products to the rest of the world. I'm a great believer that, as a country, we should make and produce things. Support should not just be for our manufacturing industry but of course in our agricultural sector. We have huge ability to produce agricultural and horticultural products in our country. In my electorate of Macarthur we have some of the best food-processing companies in Australia and yet they're being denied adequate support, denied an adequate workforce and denied the ability to get those products to the rest of the world.

I think it's bizarre that the National Party are presenting motions like this, when they themselves have done very little in their electorates to promote Australian horticulture and getting our high-value products to the rest of the world. I commend the member for bringing this motion, but I'd like to see the National Party and his government do more to promote Australia's fantastic horticultural products to the rest of the world. Thank you.