Food and fi­bre pro­duc­ers need the PM’s sup­port

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - — Alas­tair Star­ritt Moama, NSW

It was pleas­ing to see Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull pay­ing a visit to Sus­san Ley’s Far­rer elec­torate this week.

How­ever, from the me­dia cov­er­age I have seen, there does not ap­pear to have been a lot of discussion about is­sues faced by the many food and fi­bre pro­duc­ers across the elec­torate.

I agree that is­sues on Mr Turn­bull’s radar, such as en­ergy prices and in­land rail, are im­por­tant top­ics which need to be openly dis­cussed be­cause they can ben­e­fit our econ­omy and cre­ate jobs.

So too can our food and fi­bre pro­duc­ers, es­pe­cially if Mr Turn­bull is able to get a bet­ter grasp on what they need to in­crease pro­duc­tion.

There are so many won­der­ful pos­si­bil­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties across our re­gion, which boasts im­pres­sive agri­cul­tural as­sets, grav­ity feed ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, pro­cess­ing plants like the largest rice mill in the South­ern Hemi­sphere — the list goes on.

Un­for­tu­nately, when Mr Turn­bull was wa­ter min­is­ter a decade ago he in­tro­duced a Wa­ter Act, which has been an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter, at huge cost to the Aus­tralian tax­payer.

What is even more un­for­tu­nate is that Mr Turn­bull seems re­luc­tant to ac­knowl­edge its fail­ings and ap­pears to be fright­ened of tak­ing proac­tive steps to im­prove our use of wa­ter, pos­si­bly be­cause he fears a po­lit­i­cal back­lash from in­flu­en­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

If Mr Turn­bull had taken time dur­ing his visit to the area he could have vis­ited re­gions like the Mur­ray, Mur­rumbidgee and Goul­burn val­leys, which have the ca­pac­ity to feed peo­ple do­mes­ti­cally and through­out the world, pro­vide end­less job op­por­tu­ni­ties and help get the na­tion’s debt back on track.

I hope that dur­ing his visit Ms Ley spoke to him about the fail­ings of the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Plan, and re­it­er­ated com­ments she re­cently made about how it has bat­tered and bruised towns in her elec­torate.

Hope­fully, she also took the op­por­tu­nity to tell the Prime Min­is­ter about the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age this plan is caus­ing as it tries to force huge vol­umes of wa­ter through her neck of the woods, caus­ing the col­lapse of the Barmah Choke, river bank slump­ing and ero­sion.

With po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment we can pro­tect our precious Mur­ray River en­vi­ron­ment, as well as the food and fi­bre pro­duc­ers on whom the na­tion re­lies. At present that com­mit­ment is lack­ing. I hope that mes­sage was re­in­forced to Prime Min­is­ter Turn­bull while he was in our re­gion.

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