Consideration in Detail – Appropriation Bills 2015-16 (Industry)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (19:17): Minister, as a fellow Queenslander—and I am certain you will be watching a particular game of rugby league tomorrow night and supporting the right side and the right team indeed!—you are no doubt aware that my electorate of Hinkler is a diverse electorate and a shining example of Queensland ingenuity and determination. Like many of our neighbouring Queensland electorates, we have made the full use of the natural blessings of our region. As a result, we have strong and vibrant businesses operating in food and agribusiness, mining and advanced manufacturing services. I know the minister is aware of some of these organisations and companies, but I would like to give him a brief review of what is going on in my electorate.

I am sure that the minister is aware of the announcement by Knauf Australia to build an advanced manufacturing plant at the Bundaberg Port, but he may not be aware that the development approval actually came from Gladstone Ports Corporation in recent weeks. This is a fantastic announcement: some $70 million worth of investment that will create at least 60 to 70 long-term jobs and some 200 jobs in the construction of this facility.

We have organisations like Bundaberg Walkers Engineering Ltd. I am sure the minister is aware that it is struggling with high electricity prices. It is a real concern for them. There is also Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, the 2013 Queensland Exporter of the Year.

But there are a number of horticultural producers and manufacturers, which the minister may well not be aware of—organisations like Austchilli. Austchilli started from a concept by a cane farmer by the name of David De Paoli. Mr De Paoli now runs an organisation that grows eight different varieties of chillies that are hand-picked every day to ensure year-round supply for consumers. Since 1995, they have field tested over 200 varieties of chillies from all over the world to find the best on the basis of flavour, heat, colour, yield and consistency.

As well as growing chillies, they grow a wide variety of herbs that they value-add to and manufacture a range of products from, including a new product called AvoFresh made from avocados—so successful, Minister, that they cannot actually source enough raw product to meet demand. They export fresh and packaged food to 10 overseas markets. Their products were also featured recently on the hit reality show, My Kitchen Rules. They are a fabulous provider—the hero of the dish, I have been told!

Farmfresh Fine Foods is another second-generation family company operating with Australian food technology. They manufacture; they supply chargrilled and roasted vegetables to the domestic and international food service industry, including airlines, global fast food chains and cafe and restaurant chains—unlike the ‘Made in France’ products that I saw on the flight this week, which were very disappointing.

Urangan Fisheries process professionally and export a wide variety of fresh and frozen seafood, including the world-renowned Hervey Bay scallops, which I am sure everyone in the room has heard of—I am sure you have, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Griggs ): I have enjoyed a few, yes, thank you!

Mr PITT: They are a fabulous product that they export to Asia, the United States of America and the EU, and they have been doing this for over 10 years. Urangan Fisheries are supported by seven prawn and scallop-catching vessels owned by Hervey Bay based sister company, Shulz Fisheries. A well known local, Nick Shulz has been in the region all of his life—a great operator. And, of course, you cannot go past the Australian Ocean King Prawn Company, another family business, supplying premium quality seafood out of Hervey Bay for local and export markets for over 25 years. They have a fleet of six trawlers—modern, EU-accredited steel vessels, equipped with state-of-the-art refrigeration systems. They land a combined total of 300 to 400 tonnes of prawns all year for the export market. It is a fabulous product and it is great that it is in my electorate.

Minister, I note that these businesses cover much of the five areas identified as areas of competitive strength which are the focus of the Australian government’s Industry Growth Centres. As the local representative of a region that has firsthand experience of the opportunities created by investment and innovation in these key sectors, I am particularly excited on behalf of my electorate to follow the progress as the Australian government implements these growth centres. Under the Industry Growth Centres Initiative in the 2015-16 budget, I understand that the Department of Industry and Science funded some $225 million to deliver this exciting new initiative. I also note that this is an increase—an increase!—on the initial announcement from October 2014 of $188.5 million for this initiative.

We look forward to grasping every opportunity to strengthen our local economy in my electorate of Hinkler, particularly in these areas of competitive strength. Can you please provide the chamber with an update on the initiative and tell us how the Industry Growth Centres are going to put science at the centre of industry policy and help companies like those in my electorate—like Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Knauf Australia and Bundaberg Walker Engineering Ltd—to drive the growth and jobs of the future, not only in my electorate but across Australia?

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