Thursday 10 November, 2011
Members' Council meeting
Last week, the 24 strong NFF Members’ Council met in Canberra for the annual AGM and policy debate. Key issues on the agenda for discussion included the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, mining and coal seam gas regulation and the proposed Retail Pricing Bill.
Elections for the NFF Board were also held at the meeting, with Walcha producer Jock Laurie re-elected as President of the NFF, and Hay farmer Duncan Fraser re-elected as Vice-President. For more, read our media release regarding our Board appointees.
The Gillard Government issued a release congratulating Jock on his re-appointment, and the Prime Minister also spoke to Members' Council via a video message.
Coal seam gas: our position
The NFF Mining and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Taskforce's tour of the Hunter Valley late last month coincided with the announcement by Senator Ludwig that a harmonised framework should be developed across all States and Territories on future CSG developments. The NFF welcomed the call, having met with the Prime Minister only the week prior to discuss the need for a consistent approach on CSG across all jurisdictions. For more, read our media release.
Last week, the NFF Members’ Council voted on the proposed Bill by Independent Tony Windsor which seeks to introduce a ‘water trigger’ into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act 1999) for onshore petroleum and mining companies.
Many farmers believe that this Bill may benefit farmers, but our concern is that it poses a potential threat to the agricultural industry in the longer-term. All our members are committed to achieving better outcomes for farmers, and after rigorous debate, the majority of NFF members voted against supporting the Bill for two reasons: to avoid the risk of the regulations under the EPBC Act being extended to farmers in the future, and to avoid additional regulation and red tape being imposed on farmers from a Federal perspective (on the proviso that State Governments need to tighten regulations). As a result of voting against the Windsor Bill, the Members' Council also voted down a similar Bill proposed by Greens Senator Larissa Waters. For more, read our letter to the editor on the Members' Council position.
Carbon tax passes the Senate
This week saw the carbon tax legislation debated and passed by the Senate. We are, of course, disappointed with this result due to the extra costs that will be passed back into farm businesses.
While we have always remained opposed to the tax, we have worked hard to ensure that farmers achieved the best deal possible out of any scheme to price carbon. We aimed to remove costs associated with a price on carbon and to create opportunities for the farm sector to participate in any future market.
And the carbon tax that was passed by the Senate has moved considerably from what was first proposed in terms of benefits for agriculture. The Government has responded to our calls by removing agriculture’s direct emissions, and agricultural and heavy vehicle fuel for two year period, while also developing carbon mitigation options.
But this is only the beginning – there is much work for the NFF to continue to do to ensure farmers get the best deal possible under this legislation. For more, read our media release.
Coming up at NFF
> D. Day for MDBP approaches
> Blueprint roadshow rolls into Rockhampton
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