Agriculture Industry

02 Sep 2021 speech

Ms FLINT ( Boothby — Government Whip ) ( 17:05 ): I would like to thank and congratulate the Morrison government and my National Party colleagues for the fact that we now have in the Senate the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport investigating the definitions of meat and other animal products. I have for some years been continually raising my serious concerns about the false, misleading and fake claims that a number of plant protein and fake meat products are trying to associate themselves with the clean, green, natural, endlessly renewable products that our Australian farmers grow, whether that's beef, whether that's dairy, whether that's lamb, whether that's wool, whether that's eggs or whether it's our seafood. We need to make sure that we are looking after our Australian farmers.


I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with plant protein producers getting their products onto shelves, but I have a huge problem with them claiming to be meat-like products or dairy-like products or seafood-like products. I have huge problems with people claiming to make so-called vegan 'leather', which is purely plastics and petrochemicals. It could not be less like natural, endlessly-sustainable leather if it tried. I am going to continue during the remainder of my time in this place to be fighting for our farmers, for our dairy farmers, for our beef producers, for our sheep producers, for our wonderful fishermen and women around the nation, to make sure that their products are no longer being put at risk by these imposters.


The aim of these groups, companies like Impossible Foods—this is big business; these people are backed by billionaires—as the CEO of Impossible Foods says, is to 'eradicate the meat and fish industries by 2035' and replace them with 'genetically engineered plant based meat'. This CEO, Patrick Brown, has stated, 'I want to put the animal agricultural industry out of business. It is that simple. It is the most destructive industry on earth,' and he wants to see the 'land returned to nature'. Well, my goodness me. That would have pretty catastrophic impacts for Australia and for all of our rural and regional areas if we shut down our livestock producers, if we shut down our dairy producers and if we shut down our fishermen around the coastline of Australia. So I'm going to keep fighting these people and I'm going to take great pleasure in doing so, because I'm going to make sure that their false and misleading claims are no longer applied to products that could not be less natural if they tried.

I have been a bit concerned, I must say, about the efforts of the National Farmers Federation on this matter, who established the Future of Protein Forum to work with alternative protein producers. One of these food producers is Food Frontier, who explicitly state on their website:


… we must champion safer and more sustainable ways of producing food. … reducing our reliance on industrial animal agriculture and aquaculture, and backing protein sources that have fewer impacts on human and planetary health, are central to this.


Again, my goodness me! Could we see any more false and misleading statements about our amazing protein producers, our real protein producers—our sheep growers, our cattle producers, our fishermen, our dairy producers, our chicken and egg producers? Animal production is one of the most historic, most successful means of production known to the entire world. It's actually the basis of human civilisation. When we actually managed to start farming we managed to start feeding ourselves in a reliable and sustainable way, and that is why we need to continue to do so. Animal production is endlessly renewable. Cattle and sheep will continue to reproduce and provide fabulous protein sources, not just for Australians but for people around the entire world.


I'm also very disappointed with the National Farmers Federation. Today I read their submission to the Senate committee and I was a little bit encouraged that they seem to be a bit more back on the right track, but I wasn't greatly encouraged, so I'm just putting them on notice that I'll be carefully watching how they manage this. I was deeply disappointed with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, which considered and rejected this matter. They rejected truth in labelling to protect our farmers and our fishers. I will continue to prosecute this issue during my remaining time in the parliament to make sure that Australian farmers can continue to sustain this nation. They are the backbone of this nation and they deserve our support.