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Nationals, Liberals and Independents cost rural Australia $20 million and reform

Media Release
Christine Milne 15 Sep 2009

Rural Australia has been ill-served by the decision of the National Party, the Liberal Party and the Independents to block reforms that Australia's export agricultural industries are crying out to achieve.

Earlier today, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, had secured $20 million so that Australia's primary producers had both a rebate and a reform agenda for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service on the table.

"What is most reprehensible is that the National and Liberal Parties put no firm and constructive proposal to the Minister but were prepared to reject $20 million and opt for business-as-usual," Senator Milne said.

"The constructive and collaborative work of the Greens demonstrates how critical it is that parliaments behave with the public interest in mind, rather than the old point-scoring demonstrated today by the Opposition.

"Rural Australia needs leadership if our export industries are to remain competitive and our biosecurity enhanced.

"Instead, the National and Liberal Parties are offering nostalgia and not much else.

"Disallowing these regulations is a blunt measure that will now damage the interests of a great many farmers who are desperate for reform at AQIS.

"With the National Party, the Liberal Party and Senators Xenophon and Fielding going ahead with the disallowance, the reform package which I negotiated up from $40 million to $60 million is 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.

"If Australian exporters want progressive leadership, people who will stand up for them whilst addressing the major challenges they face into the future, it is the Greens who have the courage and the drive to offer that leadership."

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