88.9FM Tamworth with Macca

24 June 2024

Matt “Macca’ MACCARTHY, HOST:  Joining us today from Canberra is NSW Senator, Tim Ayres. How are you, Tim?


SENATOR TIM AYRES: Macca, it's good to be on the show.


MACCA: Chinese Premier obviously in town last week. Anything that we need to know from that visit?


SENATOR AYRES: Well, it was a very good opportunity to engage in dialogue. It is the first time a senior Chinese leader has been out here for quite some time. I think it reflects that the government has been focused in a systematic way on prosecuting Australia's national interest. Dialogue is good, but there are significant differences between our system and our interests and it's important for Australia to put the case (and Prime Minister Albanese directly to the Chinese leadership), calmly in Australia's national interest and that's what we saw last week.


MACCA: Certainly, keep us posted on what happens there. I know everybody's watching with bated breath to find out. Particularly our mate Barnaby Joyce, I'm sure he would have watched that one as well with close eyes.


SENATOR AYRES: You can see progress that's been made on the trade relationship. We worked our way through, really, 95% of the trade impediments that were imposed by China on Australian exports. That's a good thing. An opportunity to get agreement that there'll be direct military to military dialogue. So that is something that we've advocated right across the region to make sure there's opportunities to deescalate where confrontations occur. And that's in the interests of Australia's military, our Defence Forces personnel, but also in the interest of building peace and stability in the region. That's one of the aims, and there were very thorough and direct discussions.


MACCA: Little bit closer to home, the bird flu situation. We're keeping an eye on this one, particularly with the amount of chicken processing and whatnot we have in our area. But we're hearing that the Hawkesbury, at the moment, is copping it, and hundreds of thousands of birds could potentially be culled. What's the story and where's the government support on that one?


SENATOR AYRES: I know there'll be poultry operations in your listening area who will be watching this with a great deal of concern. There are two outbreaks in the Hawkesbury, and a series of outbreaks in Victoria as well. The Commonwealth Government's job here is to support the States in their frontline work, to provide resources if it's requested. Ultimately, the biosecurity capacity is at the State level. But obviously Murray Watt, the Agriculture Minister, working closely with Tara Moriarty, the New South Wales Agriculture Minister, it's absolutely vital we do everything we can to protect the industry. I can say that while there are hundreds of thousands of birds being euthanised this week, and that process takes some time, there is no shortage of supply for either chicken or eggs in the Australian market. At the moment, it's a very, very small fraction of the national flock. But we are keeping focus on working with the States and giving them the backing that they need.


MACCA: We saw this, I guess, with Varroa mite, and the fact that we sort of watched it, it was almost like you could watch it come in like a storm. Are there any real major concerns that we need to be concerned about that the Government is aware of with this coming closer to home for our region, Tim?


SENATOR AYRES: Well, every disease outbreak is different and carried with different vectors and it starts in a different kind of way. Of course, it's a great concern that we've got a series of outbreaks in Victoria and then a series of outbreaks in New South Wales. I know that the departments are working hard to work out whether those outbreaks are connected, whether they are the result of wild bird infection. The answers to these questions are not known.


MACCA: That was Labor Senator Tim Ayres.