In Parliament

2008 SEPT 17 – Questions Without Notice – Drought


September 17, 2008

Mr CHESTER (3.21 pm)
— My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. I refer the minister to his answer to my question yesterday in which he said:

… I will not show any sympathy for … someone who, unlike his colleagues, refuses to engage in the process and decides he would rather get the headline and jump up and down here. Every day he— the member for Gippsland— delays in engaging with the process he leaves the farmers in his electorate out in the cold.

I also refer the minister to the 35 separate occasions I have written to him on behalf of individual Gippsland farmers and my letters to his office and the Victorian government seeking a review of the decision. Given that I have not received a response to any of these representations, when will the minister engage in the process and when will the minister bring the farmers of Gippsland in from the cold?

Mr Adams interjecting

Mr Ripoll interjecting

The SPEAKER — The member for Lyons and the member for Oxley are not assisting.

Mr BURKE — I am pleased to get the question on the day that the National Party have been reduced to single figures in the chamber.

The SPEAKER — The minister will get to the answer.

Mr BURKE — I also note that, among the different references that the member for Gippsland has just made, he did not refer to the conversations with my office today at the meeting that he had with my office today and
the advice that he was given today in terms of the specific engagement with the process.

I would also add that I met with the Chair of the National Rural Advisory Council the Sunday before last, and on that occasion we went through the issues with Gippsland. He made clear at that point that there would be a new assessment, that the original survey that was done was a desktop assessment and that they—

Mr Morrison interjecting

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Cook is warned.

Mr BURKE — would be going through and looking at a reassessment of the Gippsland area. The important thing on the process and on the engagement is to understand the pathway through. As I reminded the member for Gippsland, yesterday when I made that comment was when I was explaining the process, and he stood up in this place and said, ‘Oh, but what about the farmers in Gippsland?’ It is the process that delivers for them—it is by engaging in that. That is why he can look to his left, he can look to his right and he will find he is surrounded by members of parliament on that side of the chamber who have engaged in an entirely different way in making sure that they get the recommendations dealt with by the National Rural Advisory Council so that those recommendations come back to me to make sure that exceptional circumstances reassessments are done, and done in a timely fashion.

Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (3.24 pm) — I seek leave to table the correspondence.

Leave not granted.

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