Media conference in Adelaide

11 October 2021

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, thank you for all coming today. A very important day, not just for the wine industry, but for Australian agricultural innovation. And there's a couple of big announcements right here in South Australia that will play an important role in modernising Australian agriculture. And can I say the first announcement is to proudly announce that Dr Martin Cole will be the CEO of Australian Wine. Our innovation in the wine industry is second to none, and Dr Cole has a proud and long history in food safety and food science, in making sure that we have the best science in the world to produce the best wine in the world now. And I've got to say that he's an outstanding candidate, a South Australian through and through. And while I'm a proud Queenslander representing much of the wine industry in Queensland, I've got to say your wines do pretty good as well. Probably just a little bit better than mine in the Granite Belt. I'll have to admit that. But thank you and congratulations. This is a great announcement, and it'll take the wine industry into the next generation in which we're trying to achieve.
Can I also say today a very important announcement is around our launching of our innovation statement? We've done a lot of work on this, but now the rubber has to hit the road. We're doing that with cold, hard cash; cold, hard cash, over $250 million worth, and we're focusing on four key areas. That's around the changing climate, that's around biosecurity, that's around trade, and it's also around making sure that our digital systems are there ready to support our farmers. And that's the exciting thing about today is piecing it all together. We're doing that. We're doing that through a number of programs. We've got a first digital platform of growAG, where all our research from our 15 research development corporations is being put on one platform so the world can see it. And since we've launched it in April, there's been over 40, 40 commercial inquiries into the research we're doing here in Australia. We're also getting back to first principle where we've created AIA, the Australian innovation. And that's also about making sure that we get rid of duplication and we get more commercialisation, get dollar value to the taxpayer and to the levy payer for what they're doing. There's over $1.1 billion worth of money put into the research development corporations around the country, and what we then want to do is not only have a digital platform, but now have a physical platform with eight innovation hubs. One right here in South Australia that in fact received an additional $2.5 million only last week. So an $86 million investment in our innovation hubs. And what that means is that they'll be able to physically come and see the research that is being done right here, the ground breaking research that's done by Wine Innovation and the University of Adelaide. But there are eight around the country.
We're also making sure that we've put $34 million into the commercialisation. One of the things we are lazy at is the commercialisation of our innovation. We simply do the research and let someone else take it up. Well, that has to stop. We have to make a quid out of it, and that's what we're trying to do now. And we're also trying to make sure that that protects us through biosecurity investments as well.
So these are the new jobs of agriculture. This is making agriculture sexy again. This means that you don't have to necessarily go on the land to be in agriculture. These are the new jobs of agriculture that we're trying to create to bring our young people home. We've lost generations of young Australians from regional Australia, and it's time to bring them home, not necessarily straight in the land, but in these new jobs that'll support agriculture to hit 100 billion by 2030. So, this is an important announcement for South Australia. And to Dr Cole, can I say thank you? This will be an important part of supporting the wine industry that's done it tough. But can I also say just on that before I let Dr Cole say a few words is how proud I am of the wine industry. The challenges they faced in China, they didn't panic. They didn't let that be- that intimidate them. They simply looked at other options and we worked with them constructively. And I've got to say, the wine industry showed more maturity and leadership than any other commodity in this country, faced with adversity.
So I think the wine industry in Australia and- in particular, it should be congratulated by every Australian agricultural commodity because if it wasn't for their leadership, I can tell you that we would have had more challenges with some of our trading partners, but we'll continue to work with them to make sure we find new markets for the best wine in the world.
Dr Cole.
[Applause]

MARTIN COLE: Well, thank. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, Minister. Really excited to be taking up this role. I'd really like to acknowledge the role that Andreas Clark did as a previous CEO to get us where we are today and also the work that Steve and the team have done in the interim. Fantastic work, but really excited. As the Minister said, our grape and wine sector is hugely important to Australia, but certainly has a number of challenges and opportunities. I think what we're talking about is absolute critical need for just excellent collaboration, a Team Australia approach, but also, as you said, attracting investment and really going faster and accelerating innovation for the growth and the profitability of our sector. And I'd really like to see Wine Australia as a catalyst actually for this sector and an early adopter of this modernisation agenda that you've started. Our wine sector is already a shining example of value adding in the sector and I think is a great example for some of the other sectors. Also, you know, we have the- you know, I think, as you said, we have the very best research and science across wine, viticulture science, climate resilience, sustainability, digital transformation. But the opportunity is to position, I think, Wine Australia as an enabler of innovation and transformation. And if the last decade or so has been about innovation at the paddock, I think the next big thing will be through the value chain and in the system, and that's what we're doing in this national innovation agenda.
So, we need to finish- you know, foster a Team Australia approach, but go hard and fast in innovation to drive growth and profitability. And so really, I'll- I should just say something- still wearing my university hat, as well. I only- these guys have been fantastic in terms of the transition. But wearing my innovation hat and my university hat, let's not forget the important of having a strong research and education base, because that's really going to be the source of the next generation of leaders and innovators. Very often it's the people that drive the innovation and the next step.
So I'll finish there just by- again, by reiterating how excited I am to this role, and also to thank you, Minister, for your leadership in this innovation agenda. And also for taking the opportunity to make your announcement here in Adelaide. Thank you very much.

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Very good, thank you. Well done.
[Applause]
Any questions [inaudible]…

QUESTION: Okay, so have the Liberals shown you and the Nationals' party room a plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No, not yet. But we intend to obviously sit down in a constructive way with the Prime Minister and Energy Minister once that's been documented and provided to us. And I think there is overwhelming support in the party room to be pragmatic and understand that plan before any decision is made.

QUESTION: When do you expect to see it?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think it's imminent and obviously we're working through that process to make sure that the primacy of the National Party party room is respected. And I think the Prime Minister has understood that as being very respectful and we've gained great comfort from what the Prime Minister's said around the fact that regional Australia will be protected. It's already footed the bill. It's time to make sure we square the ledger as best we can and to make sure that there are no further impacts on regional Australia in committing to net zero.

QUESTION: Okay, so what- the position is likely to be- there'll be carve outs around regional Australia, around agriculture? Do you know?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Look, it's too- until we see the plan, I think- I don't think it's helpful to summarise or to make any assumptions around what will be in that plan. I think we need to work through this calmly and methodically, understand the plan, work through the veracity of it and then understand not only the commitment we'll be making to regional Australians, but we'll be making to all Australians and the global community. We've got a proud record of meeting our international targets whether that be Kyoto or in fact Paris. And so we won't diminish that. When we sign up to something, we look people square in the eyes and we'll tell them we're going to get there and how we're going to get there and who pays.

QUESTION: Do you think the Nationals party room will endorse or it's likely to endorse a target for Glasgow?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: I would never pre-empt anything that came out of the National Party party room. It's important to understand the primacy of the party room. We work together. We understand and work through the issues together and then we'll make a determination as a party room. But obviously, if the Prime Minister requests us to make a determination before Glasgow, and we'll work to those timelines as best we can.

QUESTION: Did you see what- the comments from the National Farmers Federation in Queensland about the need for compensation or redress about the Kyoto targets and land clearing? What do you make of those?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, I think it's important for the NFF to understand that the Federal Government did compensate for those land clearing regulations. They were paid to state governments. So it's actually the state governments that need to kick the tin to Australian farmers for that property right was taken away. But we're already- we're already putting in place last week launching a remnant vegetation pilot that will reward farmers. So we've already started that process. The Australian Government is a step ahead, but we welcome what the NFF have said. They raise very valid points, but that compensation was held back by state governments. So it's important to understand who had the money and who should pay the bill now.

QUESTION: Would that be something you'd be seeking as part of agreeing to a net zero target or anything else?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Well, state government are their own sovereign governments and they have their own rights and responsibilities. We're just saying their responsibility is to live up to what they were paid for, and they should pay that to farmers, not put it in their pocket and walk away. Australian farmers had a property right taken away from them. It's the same as renting a house here in Adelaide that had three bedrooms and then the council walks in and says, sorry, you can only rent out two, and that means your income goes down and you're your capital value goes down. And if you're not compensated for it, you're going to be cranky. Well, Australian farmers are cranky because they weren't compensated because state governments put it in their pocket rather than put it into farmers' pockets.

QUESTION: And just one on the innovation fund. You mentioned climate is one of the four priority areas. In what ways do you think the fund will help address climate challenges?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Look, we're already doing that through research every day. The research that our 15 research development corporations undertake are targeted towards a changing climate and adapting to that, making sure that our farmers have the tool to be able to have better varieties, better genetics that are more resistant to a change in climate. I think our scientists lead the world on that, and that's why trying to commercialise this is a significant opportunity in attracting new capital. And that's what we want to do. There's 1.1 billion going into the innovation system in the moment. But if we put ourselves in front of the world, we'll see that grow, and from the Australian taxpayer or the farmer, but from foreign states and also other foreign corporates that want to contribute to the best minds in the world right here in Australia.

QUESTION: Thank you. Anything else you want to add?

DAVID LITTLEPROUD: No, all good.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.