In Canberra is David Littleproud, Nationals leader. Thank you so much for joining us. As we've just heard there, the Prime Minister, unveiling a turbocharge economic plan to turbocharge economic ties with Southeast Asia.
How do you think today's going to go?
Well, this is a good thing. This is a good thing for Australian exporters and also for us around investment. We've put a lot of focus on the Pacific with our Pacific family and making sure they understand that we support them wholeheartedly. But it's important that we don't forget the important role that Southeast Asia plays, not only in our economy, but also our national security. So it's an important visit, one that we support. We give the Prime Minister all the support we can in trying to build and continue to build those bilateral relationships with those countries, but broadly across the region.
So this also goes to things like agriculture. We've got a free trade agreement that the former Coalition Government put in place with Indonesia, hundreds of millions of people on our doorstep that we can now trade with, reduced tariffs and better market access. And it's important we continue to build on that relationship. And that's why this visit is important. And we welcome this unveiling of this new direction today by the Prime Minister. It's one that I think every Australian should welcome.
Farmers and representatives in the live sheep export industry in WA are in Canberra speaking directly to politicians about the government's proposed phase out of live sheep exports. I just spoke to a sheep farmer before. He does not want this to go ahead. What's your take on it?
Yeah, well, we support it. The Nationals have made it very clear that while there's some in the Liberal party that don't support the live sheep export industry, there will be no Coalition unless we reinstate this in a future Coalition government. And we give that commitment as The Nationals. We believe that we put in place the reforms. In fact, we reformed this to be world-leading. Western Australians do this better than anyone else in the world. We've gone from a mortality methodology to an animal welfare methodology. We can measure the pants per minute of those sheep on those boats as they go across and the airflow.
We score each boat individually on the airflow and that sets the capacity on the numbers that we put on those boats. And we measure not only to the kilogram of those sheep, but also to the millimetre, the length of wool on those sheep.
And so our standards are higher than anyone else in the world, and we would only be exporting standards to other countries that don't hold those in the export. But it's not only the export, it's also the processing. And there was a report last week from ABC around leakage out of a approved facility in Oman. Well, the fact that we are there gives us the ability to go and fix that and have influence in Oman and actually address that situation and make sure that we get it right.
But if we cut and run, we don't have any influence. But this sheep trade will continue to go on, whether we like it or not. This is a cultural aspect for the Middle East. We should respect that. But we should lead the world as we are already, rather than doing what Labor is doing. Not just destroying 3000 livelihoods in Western Australia, but reducing animal welfare standards globally. And animal activists are morally bankrupt in trying to bring this down. We should stay, we should get this right. We should lead the world. Because that's the right thing to do.
And speaking to Steven Bolt, the farmer that I spoke to an hour ago also, David, and also other people in the industry, they made an interesting point about human and animal welfare and working in collaborating with governments to look at both the welfare of the animals, but also the humans in terms of their mental health and the ramifications of what would happen with their work.
Yeah, look, this is not just about the 3000 livelihoods that are taken away. It's the mental toll that it also takes when you've got a cost-of-living crisis and you're going to lose your job. Your industry is being ripped up. You've got family entrenched in regional communities that no longer have a future. You have to move them and you have to start it all over again. That takes a mental toll. And particularly when there's no scientific reason that Murray Watt or Anthony Albanese can explain why they're shutting this industry down. They haven't even been prepared to look these people in the eye. They're simply saying, we've got to phase this out, basically because animal activists want it.
That's not a reason to destroy the livelihoods of innocent Australians who are doing their job, a lawful practice every day and without the support.
Not only is the government adding to that trauma by undertaking this process, but they're not providing any mental support for these communities and these people that have no future because of this arbitrary decision by a government that they can't explain. And that's adding to the trauma in these communities. And it's important. Government understands exactly what they're doing, but Murray Watt won’t even visit them, won't even get on the ground and talk to them. It's his decision and Anthony Albanese’s decision. They were asked to go to Katanning about four or five weeks ago. I went along and there was no one there from the government, federal government, to look these people in the eye and explain why.
Because they can't explain why. And that's adding to the trauma.
Let’s talk about the IR bill, workers across the mining, agriculture, recruiting, and business sectors have united in the Find a Better Way campaign. They're demanding Labor finds an alternative to same job, same pay proposed laws. What are your thoughts on the IR bill?
Oh, look, we can't support it. And what Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke have done has just put everything into one Bill. There are elements and there are loopholes that should be shut, and we support those. But what they've done through the cover of loophole closing is put in a whole range of other measures, draconian measures, that as many political commentators have said are the most extreme IR laws our country has seen. It's about making sure that if you want to have a red hot crack out there when you go to work, that you should get higher pay than somebody that doesn't show the initiative you do.
That's what has created our country. That's what has built our nation on what it is today. But there's also really draconian laws in this around union access to work sites, and particularly for farmers that understand work sites for farmers are their homes.
And if you've got more than a headcount of 15 employees, and that's not just full-time, that's people that might come and help do some shearing or at harvest time, the unions can come on without 24 hour notice. They can simply turn up at the front door of someone's house where children live and start to actually go through that business because they believe they have evidence of wrongdoing. Who are the unions to go in and to do this? And this is where the government is giving real power to the union movement, but to allow them to walk into people's homes where children are.
That's what Tony Burke and Anthony Albanese have in this legislation. That's what will happen if this legislation goes through. And we're saying to Tony Burke, if you are so courageous about it and convicted about this legislation, break it up so that the good parts can be supported, but the ones that are going to go to the heart, tearing up productivity, are going to cost Australians more. Then we can have that debate. We are prepared to have it, but I don't think he is. And even in his own words, he says, this is going to cost Australians a lot. In fact, they're estimating above $8 billion.
Ultimately, someone always has to pay. And that's you. You're going to pay for everything you do out there when you go to buy, whether it’s your food or whether it be building product or wherever it is. Because the unions have got their hand out.
Another hot topic, still the 60-day dispensing policy. Now, in effect, we've seen rallies outside Parliament. What's going on, David?
Well, there's an omission of failure here by Mark Butler. He got it wrong. And he's had to go back and as we said from the start, sit down and negotiate with the pharmacists. You've fundamentally changed their business model. And if they don't have a sustainable business model, they shut their doors or they start to sack people. And when you think that there could be 20,000 people lose their job, most of them women, a feminized industry that the Labor Party was prepared to effectively bring to its knees without negotiating, just didn't make sense. But Mark Butler and Anthony Albanese have realized the pharmacists were right.
They've had to bring forward the eighth Pharmacy Agreement to make sure that they understand that there is a way to make them sustainable and keep them sustainable. Because you’ve got to understand medicines in Australia, they're regulated prices.
They don't have a free margin that pharmacists can put on it. They're all regulated. And to counter that, to ensure that pharmacists, were viable, they got $8 every time medicine was dispensed. If you halve that, then you halve the viability of these pharmacists, and particularly in rural and remote areas where the pharmacist is the last line of primary healthcare. Then if they shut down, we have nothing. And Anthony Albanese and Mark Butler have been embarrassed and forced to back down on this. They have to go back to the negotiating table and now they'll have to compensate to make sure that the community pharmacists are sustainable in the future. Otherwise, regional healthcare in particular will suffer.
We have 10 seconds to go, but I want to ask you, David, Cricket T20. Do you think it should be added to the list of those played at the Olympic and Paralympic games?
I do. I do. I think if you've got India, one and a half billion Indians and a few Pakistanis along the side, why wouldn't you? Let's play cricket. We love cricket, don't we?
Alright, David Littleproud. Thanks so much for joining us.