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Labor’s Agriculture Policy falls short

18 August 2010

“THERE will be no new investments or priorities for Australia’s $137 billion-a-year farm sector under a Gillard Government,” is National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie’s assessment of the Government’s Agricultural Policy released today.

“Today’s media release from Agriculture Minister Tony Burke is not so much a policy as a summary statement with a rehash of announcements we’ve already seen in this election campaign. It is disappointing that this is all the vision the Government can muster for one of Australia’s most important economic and environmental contributors.

“With all the Government’s talk of a sustainable population over the course of the campaign, we are perplexed that Labor fails to link those concerns and aspirations with the imperative for a strong agricultural sector.

“Guaranteeing growth in food and fibre supply and developing regional communities to ease the strain on cities that are bursting at the seams must be a key part of dealing with population pressures.

“The NFF has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Government on agricultural issues and we have made some good ground over the past three years in award modernization, taxation issues and drought reform.

“While we have acknowledged announcements in the course of this campaign from the Government on water reform, affordable regional housing, the relocation bonus and the development of a regional population and food strategy, on balance Labor’s vision for, and commitment to, agriculture is lacking.

“Well before the start of this campaign, the NFF laid out a comprehensive <I>2010 Federal Election Policy Platform</> encompassing proactive and nation-building initiatives to not only provide a strong framework for agriculture, but also meet key challenges facing Australia in relation to food security, environmental management and regional development.

“While both parties have met some of these objectives, the Coalition’s Agriculture Policy injects an additional $150 million for research and development, as well as new funding for biosecurity reform.

“The Coalition went further with new funding for on-farm environmental initiatives, $300 million to boost on-farm water saving infrastructure and a stronger commitment to trade policy reform through comprehensive trade agreements – reaffirming agriculture as a central pillar in all negotiations and returning to a dedicated, stand-alone federal trade minister.

“Today’s statement from the ALP is thin – not just in terms of new funding commitments but it comes up short on vision. A vision for the future doesn’t cost a cent.”

[ENDS]

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