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Five na­tional news sto­ries about the cur­rent is­sues fac­ing people in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

SYS­TEM RE­VIEWED

A PUSH to im­prove the Ex­porter Sup­ply Chain As­sur­ance Sys­tem in the Mid­dle East will be backed by Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Barnaby Joyce.

Mr Joyce said reach­ing an agree­ment re­gard­ing ESCAS would be crit­i­cal to rekin­dling free trade dis­cus­sions be­tween Aus­tralia and the Gulf States.

“I don’t want to say that we’re go­ing to get rid of ESCAS, but we have to try and work out whether we can get some­thing to work in a form equiv­a­lent to ESCAS, but not so that it in­trudes on an­other na­tion’s sovereignty,” he said.

He said there were ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralian sheep pro­duc­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, in terms of in­creased live ex­ports if sup­ply chain as­sur­ances could be agreed on by both par­ties.

Mr Joyce said the Gulf States recog­nised the qual­ity of Aus­tralian prod­ucts as well as the po­ten­tial re­li­a­bil­ity of our coun­try as a trad­ing part­ner.

The Mid­dle East has for decades been a ma­jor mar­ket for Aus­tralian pro­duce, es­pe­cially wheat and sheep.

Iraq and Ye­men are among the top 10 buy­ers of Aus­tralian wheat, each ac­count­ing for about 7% of ex­ports.

CY­CLONE SPARES MA­JOR­ITY

BANANA grow­ers say ini­tial re­ports in­di­cate there have been min­i­mal crop losses on an in­dus­try-wide ba­sis from Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Ita but some iso­lated cases of heav­ier losses.

In a state­ment is­sued on Sun­day night, the Aus­tralian Banana Grow­ers’ Coun­cil said it was con­tin­u­ing its as­sess­ment of crop dam­age af­ter Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Ita passed through the ma­jor banana grow­ing re­gions of In­n­is­fail and Tully.

ABGC chair­man Doug Phillips said early re­ports in­di­cated on an in­dus­try-wide ba­sis there had been crop losses of about 5% across the north Queens­land grow­ing re­gions. How­ever, there had been re­ports of more se­ri­ous crop losses on some banana farms.

“The ABGC will con­tinue to work with grow­ers to help them as­sess any dam­age and any as­sis­tance mea­sures that may be re­quired.”

Mr Phillips said it had been for­tu­nate that the cy­clone had weak­ened from a Cat­e­gory 4 sys­tem af­ter mak­ing land­fall, down­grad­ing to a Cat­e­gory 1 by the time it af­fected the Ather­ton Table­lands, In­n­is­fail, Tully and Kennedy grow­ing re­gions. The north Queens­land grow­ing re­gions pro­duce about 95% of Aus­tralia’s ba­nanas, with the in­dus­try’s an­nual pro­duc­tion value at $500 mil­lion.

A sin­gle me­ter read­ing costs ir­ri­ga­tors $60 a read ...

MEM­BER FOR BUR­DEKIN ROSE­MARY MENKENS

CHANCE TO CUT COSTS

READ­ING their own wa­ter me­ters could deliver ir­ri­ga­tors a $120 a year sav­ing.

Min­is­ter for Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines Andrew Cripps said new changes would ap­ply to Queens­land ir­ri­ga­tors within “me­tered en­ti­tle­ment ar­eas” who take wa­ter di­rectly from a bore or wa­ter­course.

“We are pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity to ir­ri­ga­tors to save money by read­ing their own wa­ter me­ters,” Mr Cripps said.

Mem­ber for Bur­dekin Rose­mary Menkens said she wel­comed the pi­lot pro­gram.

“A sin­gle me­ter read­ing costs ir­ri­ga­tors $60 a read, with many ir­ri­ga­tors own­ing more than one me­ter and some me­ters re­quir­ing two reads a year,” Mrs Menkens said. “Self-read­ing of me­ters is a com­mon sense ap­proach for un­sup­ple­mented wa­ter re­sources.”

Ir­ri­ga­tors will be able read their own me­ters from June.

TAR­IFF CUT BOOST TO NUT EX­PORTS

AUS­TRALIAN tree nut ex­ports, cur­rently worth $600 mil­lion and ex­pected to reach close to $1 bil­lion by 2020, will ben­e­fit sig­nif­i­cantly from the re­cently an­nounced Free Trade Agree­ment with Ja­pan.

Al­ready Aus­tralia’s largest hor­ti­cul­tural ex­porter, the nut in­dus­try wel­comed the FTA, which will see the elim­i­na­tion of all tar­iffs on nuts. The FTA is a break­through for Aus­tralia’s macadamia in­dus­try, with Ja­pan be­ing the sec­tor’s sec­ond largest ex­port mar­ket.

The im­me­di­ate elim­i­na­tion of the 5% tar­iff once the agree­ment comes into ef­fect will take about $500 off the price of a tonne of Aus­tralian macadamia ker­nel in Ja­pan, en­hanc­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Aus­tralian macadamias and en­cour­ag­ing in­creased con­sump­tion and sales. Aus­tralia cur­rently sells about 2000 tonnes of ker­nel in Ja­pan and the tar­iff elim­i­na­tion will com­ple­ment a strong pro­mo­tional cam­paign by the Aus­tralian in­dus­try.

A duty-free Ja­panese mar­ket pre­sents un­tapped op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Aus­tralian al­mond, wal­nut and pecan in­dus­tries. At present 65% cent of Aus­tralia’s 80,000 tonne an­nual al­mond crop is ex­ported, with this fig­ure ex­pected to grow fur­ther over the next five years as trees ma­ture.

COAL COM­PANY BE­ING IN­VES­TI­GATED

A COAL min­ing com­pany has been charged with caus­ing se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal harm on the western Dar­ling Downs by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion.

Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion Andrew Pow­ell said the charges fol­lowed a de­tailed nine-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion in re­la­tion to Linc En­ergy’s pi­lot Un­der­ground Coal Gasi­fi­ca­tion plant near Chin­chilla.

“UCG is a very dif­fer­ent process to that used to ex­tract coal seam gas,” Mr Pow­ell said.

“It in­volves con­vert­ing coal to a syn­the­sised (or non-nat­u­ral) gas via en­forced com­bus­tion.

“While the harm al­legedly caused to the en­vi­ron­ment is con­sid­ered se­ri­ous, the in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the depart­ment sug­gests there is no im­me­di­ate risk to neigh­bour­ing land­holder wa­ter bores.”

PHOTO: DAN PELED

AFTERMATH: Pre­mier Camp­bell New­man (right) is shown a dev­as­tated banana plan­ta­tion by Greg McLean, Mayor of the Indige­nous town­ship of Hope Vale.

PHOTO: SELINA FERRAIS BUN100214MAC4

IM­POR­TANT MAR­KET: About $500 will be taken off the price of a tonne of Aus­tralian macadamia ker­nel in Ja­pan.

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