Two years ago Tony Abbott went to Australian voters with the promise that:
“There will be no surprises and no excuses from a Coalition government.”
TONY ABBOTT – INSIDERS - 1 SEPTEMBER 2013
However, the agricultural sector has been confronted by surprises and excuses at each turn.
From a lack lustre white paper that was delivered late and has disappeared without a trace to thought bubbles about moving the Research and Development Corporations and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority with no consultation or cost-benefit analysis undertaken, to no publicly available Foreign Investment register for agricultural land.
But don’t take my word for it; here are the thoughts of a few other White Paper, relocation and foreign investment register critics:
“There is plenty to like about the white paper but plenty that could have been done with a lot more strategic thinking – which is surprising given the amount of time the White paper took to develop”. - Mick Keogh, Australian Farm Institute, July 5, 2015.
The Australian newspaper’s rural expert, Sue Neales described the White Paper as “a list of dot-points lacking passion ... (and) from early indications, it would be hard to describe the government’s launch of its white paper on agricultural competitiveness as a heady, enthusiastic or euphoric endorsement of agriculture and food production as the brightest star in Australia’s future". - The Australian, July 4, 2015.
"Where in #AgWhitePaper are young people? Where is investment encouraging ag careers? Disappointed by lack of investment in future workforce!" - Future Farmers Network, Twitter July 7, 2015.
“Abbott can slow that change. But by pretending there are easy options he is just raising expectations that will eventually be dashed." - Alan Mitchell, The Australian Financial Review, July 7, 2015.
“Lightning Ridge farmer Robert Turnbull said the paper should have been released 12 months ago …“It's disappointing the way the government has handled the Walgett Shire. They've turned their backs on us.” - Taylor Jurd, Ag White Paper no help to Walgett's battlers, The Western Magazine, 13 July, 2015.
Estimates hearings have revealed it could cost more than $44 million to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and three research and development agencies to regional Australia.- Anna Vidot, ABC Rural, 25 May 2015.
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) today voted to oppose the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale or Toowoomba … NFF chief executive officer Simon Talbot said many of the 170 staff at the APVMA, which is responsible for approving the use of farm chemicals, were highly specialised scientists whose expertise could not easily be replaced if they chose to accept a redundancy, rather than move to a regional location. "The loss of capacity could add years to approval timeframes which are already failing to meet statutory requirements," Mr Talbot said. Adding that, the NFF also had concerns about the relocation of the GRDC and RIRDC. – Catherine McAloon, Mounting opposition to relocation of agricultural agencies, July 22, 2015.
“It is symptomatic of the failure of the agriculture white paper to grasp the pivotal issues facing the farm sector”… “The white paper pays lip service to the importance of foreign investment but provides no justification for the arbitrary lowering of thresholds for Foreign Investment Review Board screening on farms and manufacturers, as well as other companies dealing with agricultural produce”. - David Uren, The Australian, July 9, 2015
“Despite an election pledge to create a register of foreign investment in Australian farmland by September this year, Mr Joyce said he still did not know when the register would be complete. He said he could only say the register was "imminent', after recent similar announcements from Treasurer Joe Hockey. – APN Newsdesk, Foreign investment farmland register imminent, November 14, 2014.
After two years of Tony, the agricultural sector deserves a government that has a clear plan for the opportunities that lay ahead with no surprises and no excuses.
For more information about the broken promises and lies of the Abbott Government’s second year in office, go to http://www.abbottslies.com.au/
SUNDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2015