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Milne secures $20m for export farmers: Senate now needs to pass it

Media Release
Christine Milne 15 Sep 2009

Export farmers will continue to receive a rebate on the costs of compliance with quarantine regulations for another 12 months while the reform of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service is being pursued.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, secured the ongoing rebate in last minute negotiations with Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, overnight. Senator Milne will now withdraw her motion to disallow the regulations that end the rebate program and is calling on the Coalition and Independents to support this win-win outcome.

"I'm delighted to have been able to work with the Minister to deliver this positive outcome for Australian export farmers who would have been hit hard if this rebate had been removed before AQIS got its act together," Senator Milne said.

"$20 million of new money will now be found to continue the rebate while AQIS implements reforms that will save everyone money into the future and make our export farmers more competitive.

"Disallowing these regulations would have been a blunt measure that would have damaged the interests of a great many farmers who are desperate for reform at AQIS.

"It was important to keep it available as a last resort, but now that these negotiations have been successful, it's vital that we move on with the AQIS reform.

"If the National Party, the Liberal Party and Senators Xenophon and Fielding now go ahead with the disallowance, the reform package which I have now negotiated up from $40 million to $60 million will be lost and many farmers will be seriously disadvantaged.

"All of the export sectors - fish, dairy, meat, live exports, horticulture and grain - want the reform of AQIS processes to proceed because they are vital to the long-term competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

"They also wanted ongoing financial support while the reforms were implemented.

"The Government and the Greens have negotiated for this to happen.

"Playing politics now will hurt rural and regional Australia."

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