90 second statement - BFVG
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (16:23): I rise to congratulate the Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers association on running another successful night in recent weeks. Peter Hockings and his team have done a fabulous job once again and over 500 local growers and their associates turned out for the event in the Civic Centre in Bundaberg. The people that are in that room know better than anyone else does what it takes to be successful. It is an Australian farming trait to have a go, work hard and, hopefully, be rewarded. As someone who has worked in the industry for many years, who was a farmer for over a decade and whose family have been involved locally for 40 or 50 years, I can tell you that farmers learn one thing of great importance. That is resilience. They also know that the money is not there until it is in the bank. It does not matter what stage the crop is at or what the exchange rate might look like or what the weather is doing; until you are paid, it is never over.
I also had the pleasure of representing Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the event and read a message from him which outlined all the things we are doing to help the sector. I was also pleased to see some of my federal colleagues there as well, including Palmer United Senator Glenn Lazarus. However, I was very disappointed that, after meeting with a handful of growers earlier in the day, he told journalists that farmers were being treated 'like second class citizens' by the government and 'lack the minimum levels of support they need to survive, let alone succeed'. I would like to read what BFVG chairman, Geoff Chivers, posted online:
Disappointed to see that Senator Lazarus has turned a positive discussion into a political statement, inferring that we were being treated like second-class citizens. This is not the case. In fact, the current Government has been working closely with our industry to deal with the issues we face.