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Farmers look beyond Saturday to a vision for Australia’s future

23 November 2007

Election ’07 Wrap

“BY 2020, half of the world’s population will be on Australia’s northern doorstep,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie emphasised today. “An estimated four billion people – an increase of 500 million – across Asia, with economic growth of 7% per annum, presents unparalleled opportunities for Australia’s economy, especially our farm sector.

“It is in this context that the NFF has unashamedly pushed its key nation-building plans to both sides of politics in this election campaign. Only one side will prevail this weekend but whoever it is, they will face the same absolute necessity to meet the challenges we have identified and capitalise on future possibilities.

“Australia, unlike any other nation, is uniquely positioned to reap the rewards of Asia’s population boom and increased purchasing power, with Australian farmers in the vanguard. Those expanding Asian societies will need food and fibre like never before. And, due to their growing affluence, they will demand produce of the highest quality – clean, natural and to the safest standards. Here, Australia is second to none.

“That’s why the NFF’s 2007 Federal Election Policy Platform, against which we critique Labor and Coalition policies (see The NFF’s Policy-by-Policy Scorecard - attached below), was deliberately geared to tying the next Australian Government to a strategic plan for this country’s future prosperity.

“The NFF has steadfastly drilled both political camps for the detail necessary to make sense of what the next Government will actually do. Despite a glacially slow start on rural issues, both major parties have made key and binding announcements that are vital to farmers, their families and rural communities.

“On key issues, such as our national skills base, global trade, water security, transport infrastructure and quarantine, both parties have made positive commitments, taking onboard the NFF’s platform. However, on others, namely climate change, we’ve seen some acknowledgement to agriculture from Labor, but scant detail from either side.

“Both parties have committed to ongoing drought relief, but neither possessed the vision to embrace a drought management and preparedness strategy to future-proof Australia. In the face of a changing climate, we will be reminding whoever wins of that failure.

“Labor has provided a nod in the right direction with various policy announcements that go some way to intersecting with this strategic climate challenge, but only at the expense of other vital agricultural programs. Meanwhile, the Coalition has announced nothing new on this pivotal issue.

“The NFF remains perplexed over Labor’s ransacking of the $2 billion Communications Fund, which guarantees future telecommunication upgrades for phones and broadband across rural Australia, to bankroll a broadband plan that alienates 87% of the country.

“Labor will scrap the strategically-focused and highly successful FarmBis program – an education investment that provides 150,000 farm businesses with training, re-training and up-skilling on modern business management and environmentally-sustainable practices. Is this is an example of an ‘education revolution’? If so, it’s a retrograde step.

“Farmers and rural Australians will make-up their own minds at the polls tomorrow, but for its part, the NFF’s role has been to aggressively push the issues of importance to the future of farming and rural Australia. Indeed, these are interwoven with the national interest.

“The NFF and our members have a vision for a modern, profitable and sustainable Australian agricultural sector – one that can meet the challenges head-on and make the most of the opportunities to come.

“In spite of Australia’s prolonged and devastating drought, Australian farming is a huge contributor to the nation’s economy and the delivery of environmental outcomes. The NFF expects an incoming Australian Government, of whatever persuasion, to work in partnership with farmers for the good of the nation.

“In this charter, we commit ourselves to the next three years and beyond. After tomorrow is done and dusted, we will work with, and pursue, the Australian Government on the road to national prosperity.”

[ENDS]

The NFF’s Policy-by-Policy Scorecard follows - see attachement below.

Related files:

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250

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