Another week has passed and the agriculture sector is still waiting for the Abbott Government’s long-promised agriculture White Paper.
This week during Question Time Barnaby Joyce was asked by one of his own National Party Members to “update the House on the Government’s plan for Australian agriculture for the coming years?”
Instead of providing the House and our agriculture sector with an update as to when the Abbott Government will deliver its long awaited White Paper, Barnaby Joyce rattled off a number of commodity prices.
Prior to the election Tony Abbott promised that his government would deliver the White Paper within 12 months of office.
“The White Paper will be conducted by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and will report within 12 months. Our White Paper will also provide a clear, well-defined and transparent strategic approach to ensure the agriculture sector remains a significant contributor to the Australian economy and local communities”.
The Coalition’s policy for a competitive Agriculture sector, August 2013
The agriculture sector deserves to know when the White Paper will be delivered.
The Prime Minister’s website is now stating that “The White Paper is set for Completion in 2015”, with no specific date we could see another 12 months of policy inertia.
Meanwhile, the agriculture sector has no clear policy or strategic guidance from the Abbott Government at a time of enormous change – with both challenges and opportunities.
Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott can’t continue to promise farmers they’ll have answers to their questions when the White Paper is released. For many of them, it will be too late.
Rumour has it the Cabinet can’t agree on the White Paper’s shape and direction. Tony Abbott needs to show some leadership and do the right thing by our farmers.