Turn­ing the spot­light on ru­ral devel­op­ment

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL GUERIN CEO AgForce

WITH the Fed­eral Elec­tion now less than nine months away and Queens­land a key bat­tle­ground, the spot­light is firmly on what all sides of pol­i­tics will do to drive re­gional devel­op­ment, both in terms of fund­ing and poli­cies.

In re­la­tion to poli­cies, AgForce con­tin­ues to call on Fed­eral La­bor to dump its plans to im­pose a new veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment “trig­ger” in Aus­tralia’s na­tional en­vi­ron­ment law.

With the Palaszczuk La­bor Gov­ern­ment pass­ing laws this year that make it harder for Queens­land farm­ers to grow food, and shut down new agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, the last thing we need is for Fed­eral La­bor to im­pose more red tape on our in­dus­try.

Pri­mary pro­duc­ers were also very con­cerned that the re­cent Queens­land La­bor state con­fer­ence passed a mo­tion call­ing for the ban of live ex­ports of both cat­tle and sheep by 2030.

Like all Aus­tralians, farm­ers were dis­tressed at the footage aired ear­lier this year.

How­ever, with the live­stock ex­port in­dus­try val­ued at $1.8 bil­lion to our na­tional econ­omy and sup­port­ing more than 10,000 jobs, a knee-jerk ban based on emo­tion rather than facts is not the so­lu­tion.

An­i­mal wel­fare is the high­est pri­or­ity for farm­ers, and we ex­pect the same high stan­dards to ap­ply once sheep and cat­tle leave our prop­er­ties, with var­i­ous reviews now un­der way to drive bet­ter prac­tices through­out the live ex­port sup­ply chain and to im­prove reg­u­la­tory over­sight.

It was pleas­ing that both the Queens­land Pre­mier and Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader ruled out a ban on live cat­tle ex­ports in the wake of the con­fer­ence mo­tion.

Nev­er­the­less, the fact the mo­tion was even de­bated and passed re­mains a con­cern.

On the pos­i­tive side, Fed­eral La­bor’s re­cent pledge if elected to in­vest

$500 mil­lion on up­grad­ing Queens­land’s in­land roads is a good start, with the fund­ing to go to­wards im­prov­ing:

■ The Barkly High­way be­tween Mt Isa and Clon­curry;

■ The Capricorn High­way be­tween Emer­ald and Rockhampton;

■ The Mitchell High­way from Cun­na­mulla to Charleville; and

■ The Kennedy High­way be­tween Cairns and Ma­reeba.

Trans­port makes up to 40 per cent of farm­ers’ pro­duc­tion costs, so we need good in­fra­struc­ture that makes it safer, eas­ier and cheaper to get our farm goods from the pad­dock to the plate or the pad­dock to the port.

With Queens­land mov­ing the largest vol­ume of cat­tle in Aus­tralia by road over long dis­tances for sup­ply to mar­kets, feed­lots, sale yards, abat­toirs and ports, fund­ing for im­proved trans­port net­works is al­ways wel­come.

How­ever, to make a real dif­fer­ence on these in­land high­ways, much more fund­ing will be needed.

In the com­ing months, we’d like to see all sides of pol­i­tics to com­mit to do­ing more to im­prove our vi­tal re­gional and ru­ral roads.

We also urge politi­cians to work with our in­dus­try to de­velop good poli­cies based on ev­i­dence not emo­tion so to­gether we can create more jobs, boost lo­cal economies and sup­port re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

VI­TAL LINKS: AgForce would like to see all sides of pol­i­tics com­mit to do­ing more to im­prove re­gional and ru­ral roads in the com­ing months.

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