TO MARK his eight years, seven months and one day working in politics, Barnaby Joyce wore a borrowed suit from Lawrence Springborg to champion agriculture in Brisbane.
Speaking at the recent Rural Press Club luncheon, which was held at the Brisbane Entertainment and Convention Centre, the Deputy Prime Minister spruiked the Federal Budget and encouraged Queenslanders to have more pride for their agricultural heritage.
"One of the main reasons we never went into recession was (because of) agriculture,” he said. "This has got to be front and foremost, especially in a place like Queensland.”
Mr Joyce said for too long agriculture had been "pushed down the ladder on the agenda” - but he said he was determined to change that.
He talked through the $5billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund, the $200million regional road fund, the 1800km of wild dog fences being rolled out and the importance of the inland rail project. However, Mr Joyce shrugged off concerns there was not enough money allocated in the budget for improving the telecommunication services for rural and remote regions.
"Just remember... we built and financed 754 new and upgraded phone towers across the nation,” he said.
"The previous Labor-Green alliance did zero. So put our 754 up against their zero.”
My Joyce went on to explain the $2 billion worth of SkyMuster Satellites were part of a massive investment to get broadband to remote areas.
"And I know, there are a few teething problems with them at the moment. But it's not with the hardware, it's with the software, and we are dealing with that issue.
"So we are doing our bit... let's get the 754 that we financed up and running then if we need to we will have another crack at it.
"But at the same time we need to balance the books as well, which is the other part of being a good government.”
After the press club event, Mr Joyce addressed a press conference, where he backed an alleged "royalty holiday” agreement that would see Queensland lose out on about $320 million from mining giant Adani. Mr Joyce's comments followed an ABC report claiming the Indian mining company was offered a deal by the state to pay only $2 million a year in royalties once the $21 billion project starts.
"I think you have to get the Galilee Basin developed and this is going to assist in that.”
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