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Transcript 41524

Doorstop, Sydney Easter Show

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 23/03/2018

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41524

Subject(s): National Farmer’s Federation’s Talking 2030 report, TPP, US-China-Australia trade relations and steel tariffs

Location: Sydney Showground, Sydney

FIONA SIMPSON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FARMER’S FEDERATION:

It’s wonderful to be back here at the Royal Easter Show again. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, CEO of Telstra Andy Penn, Robert Poole, KPMG, my CEO Tony Marr from National Farmer’s Federation.

It’s wonderful to be here at the Royal Easter Show and what better place to launch the Talking 2030 initiative. The National Farmers Federation is very pleased to be announcing today in conjunction with our partner Telstra, the authors of the report KPMG and we’re thrilled to have the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull here to help us launch this very, very exciting initiative.

Agriculture has always been an absolute cornerstone of Australian development but today, what we’re talking about is the future for agriculture. It’s such an exciting time to be in agriculture as we look towards 2030. Can you believe we can be $100 billion industry?

Agriculture is certainly not just an industry of the past and an industry with great history in Australia, but agriculture is certainly an incredibly important part of Australia’s history. We believe that by 2030, we can be generating $100 billion of farm product.

That’s certainly a great achievement and it certainly will generate enormous jobs and growth, not just in regional Australia but also of course, will continue to contribute to the nation as a whole.

2030, $100 billion, that’s certainly exciting, but how are we going to actually get there? That’s one of the reasons behind working with KPMG to author this report; to actually develop the thought-leadership piece around how we’re actually going to get to the $100 billion. What sort of things do we have to have in place to achieve our target and how can we get there?

This discussion paper, we hope, will provoke thought, will provoke leadership, will provoke interesting ideas and opportunities. As we travel around Australia with Telstra, 13 locations, talking about some of the opportunities, some of the thought-leadership pieces that are actually in this document.

Some of the initiatives that are talked about in Talking 2030 are things like digital technology and what an amazing space here, with some of the new technology that agriculture has now got the opportunity to utilize. We know through reports such as the Precision to Decision Project, that unlocking the benefits of digital technology can actually generate billions of dollars and we mean $20 billion plus worth of income and profit to agriculture, so we need to actually unlock the digital benefits of agriculture. Also we need to look at things like how we can keep engaging new people in our industry or what does the farm of the future look like in term of investment and ownership.

What about markets? You know, the Government has done a great job of generating lots of new markets for us to access here in Australia. How can we make sure that farmers can continue to access those markets, that regional and rural communities can continue to deliver to those markets? This report proposes that every fresh food precinct in Australia should have access to overseas markets, should have an international air freight terminal to access overseas markets. What sort of potential will that bring and what other sorts of ideas could we potentially generate?

Its great to be working with Telstra, it’s great to be actually able to now travel around Australia, talk about some of these opportunities and generate some good policy discussions that are going to lead into how we actually achieve our target of $100 billion by 2030.

I’ll now ask Robert Poole here from KPMG, representing the authors of the report just to say a few words.

ROBERT POOLE, AGRIBUSINESS PARTNER, KPMG:

Thanks Fiona and thanks Prime Minister. It’s great to be here, KPMG is very passionate about agriculture and we’ve invested heavily in it and hopefully can drive change with this report.

What we wanted the report to be, as Fiona said, is a challenging group of stories around what NFF and the Ag sector have to think about to get that goal of $100 billion. It’s a very ambitious goal Fiona, it’s about double in the next 12 years, so to get there is going to be hard work and you’ll need to be really organised and obviously work with the government to get there.

PRIME MINISTER:

Rob, can I ask you a question?

ROBERT POOLE:

You can, you can.

PRIME MINISTER:

Tell us, what are the sectors that you think are going to get the strongest growth? What do you estimate?

ROBERT POOLE:

Well if you look at the meat sector for example Prime Minister, the numbers there are astronomical. Particularly because of the opening up with the free trade agreement with China. So the meat sector, horticulture, we’ve tried to be fairly sector agnostic in the report, we’ve tried to kind of design the enablers to get any sector to grow. Even if you look at the wool industry for the example, enjoying quite a strong recovery at the moment. So I think all of those sectors.

PRIME MINISTER:

You know, the TPP Fiona, the Trans Pacific Partnership we’ve just signed in Chile, that opens up 10 more markets more widely to us than they have been before.

FIONA SIMPSON:

Absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER:

In particular in Japan, our tariff on our beef going to Japan now, will be a fraction of what Americans are facing, about a quarter of the tariff that our competitors in the US are going to be facing. That’s a really big competitive advantage. It’s one of the ways in which, as you said, we open up the doors for Australian agriculture and then with the technology that you’re talking about, we produce more, more efficiently and take advantage.

ROBERT POOLE:

Fantastic, happy to be interrupted by a Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s alright, I’m assisting.

[Laughter]

ROBERT POOLE:

Yeah and look, free trade is a big part of what we have talked about in the report. Andrew Robb has actually written for us in the report as well, the former Trade Minister. We wanted the report to show three things about the sector. A) that it’s very inclusive, so we’ve got 35 guest writers. It’s not about Fiona telling us what to do or about anyone else, KPMG –

FIONA SIMPSON:

It never is, sadly.

ROBERT POOLE:

It never is, we want it to be really independent and to have really strong specialists in their field. So that’s appropriate too.

We also wanted it to be very professional and show that the sector isn’t maybe what some people think it is, in terms of just farmers out there, trudging about their paddocks. It’s a very technical report, it’s a really deep dive and very strong thought leadership. The third thing is the very caring nature of the sector. The farmers love their land, they love their animals and love their people. They know that the responsibility Prime Minister, of looking after the land is a very strong responsibility and there is some very strong challenges there around sustainability. So I’ll leave it at that Fiona and hand over.

FIONA SIMPSON:

Absolutely Robert and it’s great have such thought leadership as we go around and talk about some of the opportunities Prime Minister, that have been presented and how we can make the most of those. How we can actually achieve our target and deliver to new markets and have everybody benefit, which is one of the greatest things.

As I said earlier, the National Farmers Federation is very pleased to announce that it has entered into a four year strategic partnership with Telstra. It’s great to have CEO Andy Penn here. Telstra are a great regional company of course, having been involved in regional Australia for over 100 years.

Obviously as we're looking at some of the benefits of technology and unlocking technology and you can feel that that is moving so quickly, it’s very logical and we’re absolutely delighted to be partnering with Telstra in talking about 2030 and the opportunities ahead.

Andy, I’d love for you to come in and say a few words too, I’ll swap with you.

ANDY PENN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TELSTRA:

Thanks very much, Fiona, Prime Minister, Rob and Tony. Firstly, thank you for wonderful partnership. We’re passionate about regional and rural Australia. We’re passionate about agriculture but we’re also passionate about technology. It’s really fitting that we are having this launch in this particular tent , because you are seeing some of the really cool technology, innovation that is actually happening in agriculture, whether it’s drones, whether it’s sensors in broad acre farms, whether it’s intelligent irrigation systems.

Technology is touching every part of agriculture and it’s a key piece of the KPMG research, but of course telecommunications is the backbone for all of that technology and innovation. Because everything has to be connected and Australia is a very big country, just under eight million square kilometres. Telstra's telecommunications network currently covers more than 2.5 million square kilometres of land coverage. Whilst that’s 99.4 per cent of the population, it’s not 100 per cent and it’s not every farm. So we need to continue to innovate ways in which we can continue to provide that connectivity and coverage.

That’s why we’re spending $2.2 billion over the last three years in providing coverage in regional Australia. It’s why we’re launching one new mobile blackspot tower every single day. It’s why we invest 15 per cent of our capex in two per cent of the population to provide that connectivity.

But it’s not just about the technology benefits, it’s also actually about supporting families and supporting farmers, as we’ve heard.

I was in Winton, the home of Waltzing Matilda late last year, where we launched, Prime Minister, the 250th mobile blackspot in that community. A local farmer Tiani came up to me and she was saying how relived she was that they had the coverage, because about a year ago - Tiani lives in town and because the kids are at school during the week and their property is about 30 km outside of town - she had an inkling one day that something wasn’t right. She went back to the farm and found Keith, her husband was under an overturned body and in quite a bad way. She had to make her way all the way back to the farm to make the call to get support.

So safety is an important aspect as well. I was talking to your parliamentary colleague Bridget McKenzie earlier this week Prime Minister, in regard to tackling Tathra and all the bushfires there, where we’ve mobilized the team to be sure that we minimized the impacts and the damage. We’ve obviously got some temporary coverage up there as well.

So the Mobile Back Spots Program has been a critical initiative and I want to congratulate you Prime Minister because I remember being with you when we launched the first round of Mobile Black Spots two or three years ago.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah.

ANDY PENN:

It’s been a phenomenal platform and an important part of the overall government policy is supporting connectivity.

So we’ve been very proud to put 80 per cent of the private sector’s capital into that program. We’re launching as I say, a new mobile tower every single day. We’re up to 350 and well on our way to almost 100 new towers for the five year initiative. So with those comments, thank you again Fiona and I’d love to hand over to you Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you, thank you and I’m just really honoured to be here with you, with everyone here, with the farmers of New South Wales and from further afield, Fiona. Because, really, agriculture is our future. It’s often seen as being an old-fashioned industry as you said. It’s been around a long time of course, as long as civilization, but it is technologically advanced and becoming more so.

Andy, the connectivity you provide and the NBN provides and other companies provide is so absolutely critical. You know, what we’re seeing here – we were just talking to the University of Sydney with the robots over there, have a look at the robots, they’re amazing – it’s all about being able to use our resources. Whether it’s water, whether it’s pesticides, spraying weeds, how much better to be able to do so with great precision, making every single drop count? Look at the improvements in irrigation. This has all come about through the ability to use precision technology. The days of flood irrigation, they’re not completely over but it is ending. Whether it is the extraordinary precision that you’re seeing in orchards nowadays, all of that is making a gigantic difference.

So this is about ensuring that we can move to a $100 billion industry by 2030. Congratulations, I’ve got no doubt that we’ll do it. I absolutely have no doubt. The combination of the enterprise and the determination of Australia’s farmers, the technology of the 21st century, the fantastic thought leadership as Fiona says, that you’re providing, the NFF is providing, supported by KPMG, this is outstanding.

So it’s a great future and all we need, speaking for a part of the country where Lucy and I have cattle and sheep, we’d just like a bit of rain. That’d be nice. Can you make it rain?

ANDY PENN:

We’ll send a drone up Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Send a drone, that’s right, that’s right. I’ll speak to Josh Frydenberg, he’s the Environment Minister, I’m sure he can do some spot rain where we need it. No, but it’s critically important and as I said agriculture is the most ancient industry, but it’s also one of the most technologically advanced, that connectivity you’re talking about Andrew.

This is something – I don’t want to introduce an unduly partisan note, just an observation – the Black Spot Program that we commenced on coming to Government in 2013, that was the first time the federal government had put money to support Black Spot remediation for the mobile networks since John Howard. So we had six years of Labor, they put a huge amount money into broadband as you know and we’re getting that completed – did you know that regional Australia’s broadband rollout will be complete this year?

FIONA SIMPSON:

Fantastic.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well in advance of the cities. Wireless is going very well, satellite is going well now and of course all different kinds of connectivity as well. But we got stuck into the Black Spot Program and that’s rolling out and the goal, as you said, is to make sure that there are no black spots. I guess that’s the long term ambition, but we are chipping away at it.

So anyway, it’s great to be here, congratulations.

FIONA SIMPSON:

Thank you very much, Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST:

In the terms of this $100 billion goal for the agricultural industry, how much of an impact is that having on Donald Trump’s attitude towards trade, having on their ability to get there? Is it enhancing anything?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think it effects it. In terms of what we’re doing, we’ve got a free trade agreement with the United States, obviously, which has been longstanding.

But on the Trans Pacific Partnership which President Trump pulled out of, you know I was mocked by Labor continually. Bill Shorten said I was on a “vanity project,” “delusional,” “wasting my time”. Anyway, we stuck with it. We got it signed with all of the original countries, except the US.

So importantly, if we look at beef alone, we’ve got a competitive advantage with ranches in the US and much lower tariffs. That is a real advantage for us.

So it is my job as Prime Minister to fling open as many doors for Australian exports as I can. Those that are open, get them open even more, because we are the best.

We can compete on the biggest, broadest playing fields around the world and look at the great leadership we’re seeing from agriculture here, to ensure we can produce the food we require and to take advantage of those opportunities.

FIONA SIMPSON:

We have a competitive advantage in things like the TPP for example, where we can now compete absolutely, against some of our biggest competitors in the world, in some of the biggest markets in the world. The TPP opens up for agriculture some of the biggest markets in the world. When we talk about meat, but also when we’re talking about things like Australian table grapes into Japan. The Japanese are now enjoying our Australian table grapes. So at the time when they can’t eat table grapes there, they can’t produce their own, it’s a win for our produces, it’s a win for their consumers and it’s very competitive. It’s so exciting to have the ability to enter some of those markets.

JOURNALIST:

So what effect will there be on Australia by America’s trade war on China?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Donald Trump has said this is the beginning of a negotiation. His contention is that trade should be fair and reciprocal. We understand that. That is the reason why Australia has been exempted from the steel tariffs. As Donald Trump said, trade between Australia and the US is fair and reciprocal with zero tariffs on US imports into Australia. We have a very close security relationship. And America actually has trade surplus with Australia and we don’t complain about that. We’ve got surpluses with other countries. So the important thing is no one wins in a trade war, no doubt about that. We look forward the US and China to being able to negotiate a satisfactory arrangement that suits both sides.

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you’re asking me to speculate on possible future actions from China. I think our focus should be on supporting good constructive negotiations. President Trump has talked about how much he respects President Xi. I have been with them and the two men see eye-to-eye in every respect – they are about the same height, both big guys – and I look forward to them being able to negotiate. But I don’t want to speculate on actions that haven’t been announced.

JOURNALIST:

Is it possible for Australia to [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

I wouldn’t speculate on that. We’ve got a free trade agreement with China which has been very important for agriculture. We’ve seen massive… the 64 per cent increase in wine exports alone to China since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement came into play.

You know, China is a huge market, right? There’s no question about that, but you’ve got to look at every market. That’s why we secured a free trade agreement with Peru recently. That’s why we stuck with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That’s why we are working on a free trade agreement with Indonesia and I was discussing that with the President Joko Widodo of Indonesia when he was down here for the ASEAN Summit.

So every angle, every opportunity we’re working on to find more opportunities for Fiona’s members and other Australian exporters to take advantage of. We’re working on a free trade agreement with the European Union. All of these things are hard by the way. Free trade agreements, it’s not an easy glide path and you have setbacks, there are hills and hollows in the road you pursue.

But my job as Prime Minister is to make sure that I create the best opportunities for Australian businesses to export, because that means they invest and that means they create more jobs. Remember 420,700 jobs in the last 12 months in Australia, a complete record.

The largest jobs growth in 12 months ever.

17 months of continuous jobs growth, again a record.

Participation rates growing, female participation rate the highest ever, again a record.

That’s what happens when you’ve got all your economic polices supporting business investment and employment. That’s the difference between us and our opponents.

Thanks a lot.

Transcript 41524