COMMITTEES -- Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee -- Report

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:38): It is always an honour to follow in a debate two speakers from the coalition who really know what they are talking about when it comes to biosecurity matters. I am delighted that, back in June, Senator Boswell initiated this inquiry to have a look at the effect on Australian pineapple growers of importing fresh pineapple from Malaysia. Queensland does grow a lot of pineapples. We grow a lot of bananas, too, and I have to thank Senator Boswell for the sterling efforts he made during the time of the Howard government to get rationality into the debate on the importation of bananas, which would have affected the banana industry in Tully. Whilst a lot of Queensland is the home of some of the very best pineapples in the world, I am particularly concerned about the impact of imported pineapples on the pineapple-growing industry around Central Queensland. By coincidence, on 26 October, Tropical Pines will be opening their new head office and packing shed in Yeppoon in Central Queensland. I am delighted to be going along and I know that Senator Boswell will be as well. We will be taking with us Michelle Landry, who is the LNP candidate for the electorate of Capricornia, which takes in Yeppoon and Rockhampton, in Central Queensland. I only mention this in order to say that the current member for Capricornia is always absent, always silent, when the interests of her constituentsfor example, the pineapple growersare at stake. I know that Michelle Landry, the LNP candidate for Capricornia, is one who will have the pineapple-growing industry in Central Queensland at the front and centre of her activities in the federal parliament when and if she is elected to that seat following the next federal election. What Tropical Pines has done for the pineapple industry is fantastic. It employs a lot of people in Central Queensland. It is a very significant industry. In fact, Mr Derek Lightfoot, the managing director, gave evidence before the committee. It is very important that the evidence presented by people like Mr Lightfoot is listened to. It is no good just having these matrices of DAFF Biosecurity. You really need to have the understanding of people on the ground, people who make their livelihoods out of understanding pineapples and the impact of diseases, particularly imported diseases, that could devastate a very successful industry in Queensland. There is a lot more I would like to say. This is only an interim report at the present time. I would very much like to make further comments, but I understand that there are senators who want to talk on other matters so I will confine my remarks to that. I seek leave to continue my remarks later. Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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