Today marks 12 months of disappointment for the agriculture sector.
In a touted ‘year of achievement’, his Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has been unfairly claiming credit for high beef and sheep meat prices. He has sat back and rejoiced in higher prices for cattle producers but failed to admit they are in fact drought-induced and demand is simply outstripping supply.
It doesn’t end there. Barley is down 5 per cent, cheese 4 per cent, and chickpeas a significant 32 per cent down.
The dairy crisis dare not speak its name when Barnaby is in a self-congratulating flap. This has also happened under the Turnbull Government’s watch. Almost four months after the dairy crisis began, struggling dairy farmers and the community at large have been at a loss to understand the Turnbull Government’s inaction. Dairy farmers have been left desperate with milk prices slashed below the cost of production.
The forced relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is yet another example of the Government’s misdeeds with the Agriculture Minister’s pork-barrelling exercise that will hurt both farmers and the taxpayer.
Barnaby Joyce has refused to release the $272,000 cost benefit analysis on the forced $24.1 million relocation of the authority. Despite mounting pressure and an outcry from industry bodies, the Prime Minister continues to show a lack of leadership by not standing up to his deputy and at the very least, forcing him to release the cost benefit analysis.
The confusion and chaos of the past 12 months continues with the Government’s handling of the proposed introduction of the Backpacker Tax which will be devastating for farmers. Similarly, changes to the Wine Equalisation Tax Rebate (WET) have been heavily criticised by Australia’s valuable wine industry.
In both instances the Government has failed to consult with stakeholders and industry groups. It has blatantly and consistently ignored peak bodies with poor policy for the agriculture sector the result.
The Prime Minister has capped off the year with reports Barnaby Joyce will replace him as chief communicator to sell the Coalition’s message.
Only in a government as directionless and hollow as Malcom Turnbull’s would Barnaby Joyce be considered a selling point.