Joe Hockey
Joe Hockey

Coalition govt to help farmers, regional Australia: Hockey

REGIONAL Queensland voters can expect reopened cattle export markets, prioritised Bruce Highway upgrades and faster broadband under a Coalition government.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, fielding a question during a Queensland Media Club event in Brisbane, said his party was packed with farmers who understood the needs of regional Australia.

"There is not one farmer in the parliamentary Labor party, not a single farmer," he said.

"Our ranks are full of farmers.

"Ultimately, in the highest levels of Coalition government, regional Australians will have a seat.

"There'll be people at the top of the tree who actually understand regional Australia, care about regional Australia, live in regional Australia.

"That will be the defining difference between us and Labor."

When asked whether there were any farmers within Labor parliamentary ranks, a spokesman from the Prime Minister's office said: "Joe Hockey is only interested in dividing the country. The Prime Minister has made it clear he wants to unite the party and stop this kind of negative politics".

Mr Hockey could not be drawn on funding or timing commitments for the Bruce Hwy because an announcement would be made "in due course".

But he said he drove the notorious stretch "not long ago" and understood the concerns about some parts of the vital road.

Mr Hockey said he met with cattlemen at Cloncurry in the past month about the export industry in Far North Queensland.

"What a terrible policy failure it was to close down the live cattle export industry overnight without warning. That was a complete unmitigated disaster," he said.

"We understand that cattle and agricultural projects are not like normal widgets that you produce in a manufacturing plant.

"We've been working closely with the cattlemen's association ... and others up there to try and open up export markets in Papua New Guinea and try and reopen export markets in Indonesia."

Mr Hockey said his government also "find ways to build opportunities in regional Australia" but that meant getting faster broadband out to regional communities first.

He said that did not mean waiting for the cable to "come by your house but using a mix of technologies under our broadband plan" to get faster broadband as quickly as possible.

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