Turning the spotlight on rural development
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.
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.