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Putting farming on the 2010 political agenda

14 June 2010

POLITICS and policies that directly impact on Australia’s farmers will be centre stage at the National Farmers’ Federation’s (NFF’s) 2010 National Congress come September in Melbourne as federal ministers and opposition parties square off in two headline debates.

“This year’s National Congress will pit Federal Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke [invited] against his Shadow, National Party MP John Cobb, and Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne [who have confirmed their participation],” NFF President David Crombie said.

“We’ve asked each to share their vision for Australian agriculture’s future and discuss the issues and priorities they think are needed to take the sector, and Australia, forward over the next three years.

“Kicking off Day 2 of the Congress Program we’ve invited Federal Water Minister Penny Wong to explain the Government’s water reform agenda and how it impact farmers, while Opposition Water Spokesman Barnaby Joyce and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon have been invited to lay out their alternative approaches, priorities and issues.

“It’s a high profile, high octane opportunity for all sides of politics to canvass their policy intent and puts farmers and others attending the Congress ringside in making up their own minds.

“I think this is an important acid test for all parties. Regardless of when the next election is, it’s essential for the key political players to front farmers at this major event and explain where they’re headed and why they think we should follow them.

“Their decisions do and will affect farmers and agricultural production for years to come, so it’s an opportunity they would want to embrace in being accountable to those with most at stake in these issues.

“Importantly, farmers and others attending the Congress will be in the box seat and can decide for themselves the relative merits of each case, while also getting fascinating insight into the people making the decisions and what drives them.

“Further, each session at the National Congress includes 20 minutes for questions from the floor, so delegates – farmers and others attending – can put their questions to these political heavy hitters. It’s an opportunity to be relished.”

The NFF’s 2010 National Congress runs over 6-7 September at The Grand Hyatt in Melbourne. Early bird registration is available online now for just $800 (including GST). Visit the Congress website for all details, including the full Congress Program.

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