Media conference in Brisbane

12 October 2021

TREVOR EVANS:   Well, good morning. I'm Trevor Evans. I'm the Federal Member for Brisbane and I'm very pleased to be here with the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, the Honourable David Littleproud MP. Great to have you back here in Brisbane again, David. And I'd also like to acknowledge Brendan Christou, the CEO of the RNA. 
We are obviously standing here at the RNA Showgrounds here in the heart of Brisbane, which in normal times hosts the amazing annual event known as the Ekka. Unfortunately, for two years running now, 2020 and 2021, the Ekka has been cancelled due to COVID and the pandemic situation in which we find ourselves, and that's been a terrible loss on many fronts. It's a, a loss for the event organisers, for the showmen and women, for the small businesses, and of course, it's a loss here for everyone in my community in Brisbane. And my heart goes out to all of the kids who have missed the opportunity to come and have an amazing day at the Ekka for the last two years running, to have an educational day but also to enjoy a dagwood dog and an Ekka sundae. And my heart also goes out to all of the adults who get to be kids at heart for a day here as they get to see all of the stalls and the amazing sights, and also to continue to gain an appreciation for the wonderful agricultural and industrial sectors here that we try to celebrate around Queensland and at the Ekka. So without further ado, I'd like to hand over to David Littleproud to make an important announcement.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Thanks Trev and Brendan. Great to be back at the Ekka, and let me tell you that Ekka will be back next year. The Federal Government today is committing $25 million towards agricultural shows across this country - to those shows that have been shut down by COVID. Twelve million will go to the rural shows here in the Ekka, Canberra, Melbourne, and Adelaide, to help them get through. And then $9 million will go to rural and regional shows to help them pay for their ongoing costs. And $4 million will go to the Showman's Guild to make sure that the rides continue not only at the Ekka, but right across the country. 
The Showman's Guild have done it really tough, and what we'll be doing is paying their rent at local shows to take that financial burden off them. This is about making sure that agriculture shows continue. Like here at the Ekka, it brings the city and country together. It's important- an important conduit of the city and country coming together and removing that divide that's been there. This is about making sure that people in metropolitan areas particularly, understand where their food and fibre comes from and what we do and how we do it out there.
So this is an important investment in shows right across the country, but particularly for our royal shows - Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Canberra - to make sure that that Sydney connection to the bush is connected. This is making sure that that corporate knowledge that is behind me here with Brendan and his team can continue to pay the bills. This is ensuring that they can continue on and the surety of knowing that next year when the Ekka comes on, it'll be just as good as it was a couple of years ago. And I think this is a great investment, not only for agriculture, but for the rural shows in what they do promoting agriculture and keeping us all going. So, Brendan, congratulations and hopefully this will go a long way.

BRENDAN CHRISTOU: Look, thank you, Minister. This is fantastic news for agricultural shows across the country. Can I say on behalf of the RNA, agricultural shows of Australia, and all of the 285 odd cancelled shows this year, we want to thank Minister Littleproud and the Federal Government for this amazing support. 
For the second year in a row, this funding will provide a much needed shot in the arm for Ag shows. Since the pandemic started in early 2020, hundreds of shows have been cancelled two years running, and as not for profit organisations this funding is vital and provide certainty for our sector. It's critical to ensure that the AG show movement can continue into the future and stays alive. 
Since last year, this funding has enabled many show societies to cover some of those cancellation costs that otherwise would have been unrecoverable. It's provided a crucial cash injection, enabled them to continue to operate. Ag shows are the lifeblood of our communities. There are nearly 600 AG shows nationally and we generate tens of thousands of jobs continue and billion- a billion dollars of economic impact each year. One in five Australians attend an Ag show each year. 
So for the Ekka, this year's Ekka was cancelled just five days before opening day, and this was devastating for all of the stakeholders involved in staging the Ekka. Financially, it was a major blow to the RNA, as it's still our major source of income to the organisation. We invest nearly $2 million every year in our agricultural competitions, and that is the heart and soul of the show, and it is what brings the country to the city in August each year. Combined with the cancellation of the 2020 Ekka, this pandemic has had a major financial impact on the RNA. This announcement today will ensure that we have the funding needed to make our historic comeback Ekka in 2022, and we can't wait for that to happen. 
The Ekka itself generates over 3500 jobs annually and about 200 million in contribution to the Queensland economy. And it's such positive news for our industry and greatly appreciated. This funding is an amazing show of support for the bush, and particularly for our farming communities and exhibitors who look forward to coming to the city each year to showcase the best of the best in agriculture. So thank you all.
Any questions?

QUESTION: I got something for the Minister. Yeah. Thank you. Can you guarantee that every regional or rural show will be able to benefit from this funding?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, those shows that didn't run this year will be able to apply, and it's simply about making sure that they can demonstrate the cost that they bore, whether they be electricity, rates, a host, fixed costs that keep coming back. So the little country shows out in Western Queensland will be able to take advantage of this, as will the big rural shows. So it's making sure every one of those 50,000 volunteers that were out there who put their heart and soul into out shows know that they'll have a show next year, because those costs have been covered by the Federal Government. This is an investment in them, their, their passion, and their commitment to agricultural show movement, but it's also about making sure we preserve the corporate knowledge here with, with the royal shows in that city-country connection. And that's why it's important we,  it's all encompassing, and we go right across the country. And as well, is including Showman's Guild, because without the rides, there's no fun.

QUESTION: So will events that went ahead at reduced capacity be able to benefit from funding?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, they'll have to demonstrate a loss of income. But effectively, we are only really targeting those that didn't get to run. Most of the shows did run in some form or capacity and if they got income then it’ll depend on the income which they receive.

QUESTION: Minister, the $12 million for the major shows, how- is that for just the 20 companies? Or how's, how's that going to be [indistinct]?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: It will be demonstrated, obviously, the Ekka here in Brisbane is a little bit bigger than the show in Canberra. And obviously the royal show in Melbourne and Adelaide are bigger than Canberra. So it's, it's cut back in terms of costs and the reimbursement of those costs. So you would expect that the large share of that portion will go to the royal shows, to the royal shows here in Brisbane, in Melbourne, in Adelaide.

QUESTION: Question is on other matters, if that's alright?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: Cool. Just on climate change, what came out of the Nationals Party Room yesterday? Is the Party making progress on agreeing to a position on a long-term emissions strategy?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I don't discuss what happens in our Party Room. That's sacrosanct. The facts are that we still haven't seen the plan. That plan will be presented to the Party Room at some point in the future, and then we'll make a determination around our commitment towards that plan, and achieving net zero by 2050. But that'll be done in a calm and methodical way, once the plan is presented to the entire Party Room.

QUESTION: Prince Charles is urging the Prime Minister to attend the Climate Summit. Should he take that advice?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think it's more important that we give a commitment that has veracity, that has standing and has currency. That’s more important and that’s what the world wants to hear and what Australians want to understand. Australia has a proud record of meeting its international commitments, whether they're Kyoto or Paris. And if we sign up to net zero by 2050, we'll mean it. We'll look people in the eye and say we're going to get there because we've got a record of achieving those targets in the past. 
This self-loathing that comes in this country has to stop. We should be proud of what we've achieved as a nation in reducing emissions - 20 percent since 2005. We're doing the heavy lifting. And if we make a commitment, the world will know we're fair dinkum.

QUESTION: Should the Government set a mid-term target as well as a one-term target?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think the clear, concise direction that has been asked of us is to meet those Paris commitments, which we will beat. And if there is extra, then that'll be a conversation the Government will have to work through. But we're going to go past the Paris commitment anyway in terms of the trajectory of our achievement. But the net zero by 2050 is the game in which we have been asked to sign up to and when we sign up to it, we'll mean it.

QUESTION: What concessions are the Nationals prepared to give in order to strike a deal before Glasgow?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well we seen the plan, so it's a bit hard to ask for concessions when the Party Room hasn't seen the plan. We'll obviously work through that in a calm, methodical way, understanding the impacts, if any, on regional and rural Australia. And then obviously have a mature conversation with the Prime Minister around what that looks like. But there's been no detailed plan presented to the Party Room. I've seen the first iteration of that plan, and that will obviously now go through a process. That will go through Cabinet, and then obviously it's going to be presented to the Party Room's at some juncture in the near future.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you said the Commonwealth provided compensation to the states over farmers who gave up land for carbon sequestration to meet Kyoto targets. Can you clarify when and how the Commonwealth did that?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Yes. Nearly $350 million through the National Heritage Trust for the Bushcare program. Effectively, the Queensland Government tried to shake us down for an extra $100 million, from memory. We told them that this funding, that we're paying from the funding that came from the sale of Telstra, was available for them to use around the mitigation of tree clearing restrictions that were put on farmers.

QUESTION: One more. There are calls for Anthony Byrne to resign from the Joint Committee on Intelligence Security over his admissions to branch stacking in the IBAC yesterday. Should he remain on the Committee?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think Mr Byrne should reflect. There's always plenty of pressure put on, on Members of Parliament when they haven't lived up to the expectations and I think that he should self-reflect rather than others have to do it for him.

QUESTION:  Great, thank you.