Canberra Report: Full marks go to everyone involved

What a great pleasure it's been to help and support the team at the Singleton Neighbourhood Centre.

A number of grants, significant corporate support and hundreds of hours of voluntary work from a whole range of people and organisations helped Sue George, Judy Mitchell and their team realise a long-held dream last Friday.

TheOpenDoor@SNC will now provide basic facilities for those in need and the project is a great credit to all involved. A large crowd gathered for the opening and most there had played a role in some way. Full marks to Singleton High School's hospitality students who provided the catering. Congratulations and thank you again SNC.

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The recent debate over live sheep exports leaves one wondering where consumer preferences are heading.

Australia does not have the largest number of vegetarians as a proportion of our population but it is one of the fastest growing. According to Roy Morgan research, about 2 million Australians now don't eat any meat. Veganism is also on the rise.

Will the majority of us continue to eat animals forever?

Frankly, I suspect not. Unsurprisingly, those shunning meat are more likely to be born after 1990. In another thirty years they'll be my vintage and they'll be joined by those younger than them.

The rate of change is likely to accelerate.This was recognised by the National Farmers' Federation in its recent "Talking 2030" document.

Many things will continue to drive changing consumer preferences including dietary and health concerns, attitudes on animal welfare, technology-driven plantbased alternatives, and concerns about food security.

The first two speak for themselves. On the question of plant-based food, scientists are already creating beef steaks from legumes and other cultivated products which look and taste eerily like the "real thing".

On food security, as sure as night follows day, a debate will emerge about whether we are well placed to feed the global populations as it hurtles to 9 billion people.

The international community will begin to question whether it is sustainable to use 6 kilograms of grains or equivalent to produce one kilogram of beef steak.

It all sounds a bit Orwellian but we need to be alert to the possibilities. Change if it continue to come, will not be driven by governments but by people. What Government can do is ask itself how it might work with the agriculture sector to be ready for possible changing consumer choice.


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