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Economic Forum disappointing: ag not on the agenda

15 June 2012

The Prime Minister’s Economic Forum has failed to recognise the important role of agriculture in helping to build Australia’s economy, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today said.

NFF President Jock Laurie said the Forum, held in Brisbane this week and attended by NFF Vice-President Duncan Fraser, did not capitalise on the opportunity to look at how sectors like agriculture could contribute to the economy, particularly given the rise of the Asian century.

“Agriculture is already a very important part of Australia’s economy, with the agricultural supply chain contributing some 12 percent, or $155 billion, to Australia’s GDP,” Mr Laurie said.

“We already contribute $32 billion in export earnings to the Australian economy per annum, and forecasts show that this is expected to rise by six percent this year. And, given the prediction that in just eight years time, half the world’s population will live on our northern doorstep, there are unparalleled opportunities ahead for our farmers.

“The Prime Minister has herself said that there is the potential for a new golden era of Australian agriculture, given the rise of Asia – yet, despite this, the role, contribution and opportunities for agriculture within our economy were barely mentioned at this week’s Economic Forum,” Mr Laurie said.

“Of course, there are many other issues impacting Australia’s economic future – and these issues are just as pertinent to our farmers.

“Issues like the high Australian dollar and its impact; skills and education; labour shortages and workplace relations reform; investment in productive infrastructure; competition and deregulation; and innovation and collaboration were all on the agenda for this week’s Forum. These are all essential considerations for Australia's agricultural sector and issues the NFF and our members are actively working on - yet these were not considered in connection with agriculture.

“While we’re very pleased to have been at the table for this Forum, after missing out on an invite to the Government’s inaugural Business Advisory Forum earlier this year, it is very disappointing that agriculture was not on the agenda,” Mr Laurie said.

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