Give farm­ers a fair go

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

YOU could have slapped North Queens­lan­ders down with a kale leaf yes­ter­day.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and En­vi­ron­ment and Great Bar­rier Reef Min­is­ter Steven Miles an­nounced in Cairns the La­bor State Govern­ment’s am­bi­tious plan to cut Queens­land’s car­bon emis­sions to zero by 2050 and make us a leader in the “clean growth” econ­omy of the fu­ture.

It may be an ad­mirable and for­ward­think­ing ideal, a pointer to a new green fu­ture for a mod­ern coun­try such as Aus­tralia at a time when cli­mate change is front and cen­tre for the world’s pol­i­cy­mak­ers.

But North Queens­land is a re­gion await­ing the be­gin­ning of our state’s next big re­sources boom, one that prom­ises an­other gen­er­a­tion of pros­per­ity for hard- work­ing min­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Fur­ther­more, with elec­tric­ity prices reach­ing ever- greater heights while wages growth stag­nates, North Queens­lan­ders want poli­cies to bring im­me­di­ate cuts to power bills.

North Queens­lan­ders want re­lief and have sig­nalled sup­port for the the­ory that coal- fired, baseload power is the pre­ferred op­tion as our re­gion es­tab­lishes it­self as the base for the fu­ture devel­op­ment of North­ern Aus­tralia in the decades to come.

The Coali­tion Fed­eral Govern­ment and lo­cal lead­ers are united on this is­sue – a su­per- crit­i­cal high- ef­fi­ciency, low- emis­sion coal- fired power plant in the North is the an­swer.

In­stead the La­bor State Govern­ment has de­liv­ered a pol­icy prom­ise that seems to guar­an­tee even more pain for tax­pay­ers’ pock­ets as Queens­land picks up the pace to­wards a coal- less to­mor­row.

The State Govern­ment – which is al­ready strug­gling with a rep­u­ta­tion for ig­nor­ing the re­gions in favour of big- city vot­ers – seems to be com­pletely out of touch with its Townsville con­stituents on this is­sue.

Pre­dictably, con­ser­va­tive politi­cians lined up yes­ter­day to cap­i­talise.

Trad and Miles are both part of the La­bor Left fac­tion – be­holden to The Greens for voter pref­er­ences – that staged the now in­fa­mous roy­al­ties re­volt that threat­ened to de­rail In­dian miner Adani’s coal min­ing plans in May.

But even The Greens have at­tacked yes­ter­day’s pol­icy an­nounce­ment, la­belling it hyp­o­crit­i­cal given La­bor has given its sup­port to the open­ing up of the Galilee Basin and its main pro­po­nent, Adani.

Per­haps in an elec­toral shot across La­bor’s bow yes­ter­day, Ms Trad’s Greens op­po­nent in South Bris­bane de­scribed the Govern­ment’s pledge as a “con job and a joke”. ‘ VI­O­LET’ in Vin­cent is com­plain­ing about the price of veg­eta­bles in Townsville ( TB, 8/ 7/ 17).

I won­der does Vi­o­let even have an idea as to what a farmer or road trans­port driver gets to bring this bounty to our door for the prices she is whinge­ing about pay­ing.

Ar­ti­cles about the health of the reef, or how ter­ri­ble those pesky farm­ers are, abound in me­dia to­day.

Farm­ers and land clear­ing are be­ing blamed for an event that ac­cord­ing to some sci­en­tists who don’t de­pend on the ‘‘ cli­mate change in­dus­try” for a liv­ing say the reef is a liv­ing thing that has good times and bad.

Yet the pop­u­la­tion wants to eat well, eat cheap and to hell with what­ever it costs a farmer to pro­duce food – it only mat­ters what cost Coles and Wool­worths sell it for that mat­ters.

If the growth in our cities that belch out mil­lions of tonnes of waste a year was stopped right now, it would mat­ter noth­ing to the health of the reef. Peo­ple wash­ing cars, throw­ing poi­son on the lawn, plas­tics and waste all ends up in the wa­ter.

This is more deadly than all of the farm­ers put to­gether. Yet this fact is si­lenced by the Green ma­chine be­cause it is eas­ier to hound a farmer to death than to change mil­lions of peo­ple’s lazy and pro­tected habits.

Farm­ers can­not grow food in the desert, but so­lar pan­els can be put in the desert for the same value. Yet big- time in­vestors from for­eign coun­tries want profit so it is eas­ier and cheaper to put them on farm­land close to cities.

Farm­ers are quick to sell to de- velop­ers and these com­pa­nies be­cause they are sick and tired of the mas­sive costs in pro­duc­ing food in the coun­try and the lit­tle amount Coles and Woolies want to pay them.

They are get­ting sick and tired of reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance costs to pro­tect con­sumers, who want cheap and cheaper but have no idea how much the pro­duc­tion of that food is cost­ing.

Farm­ers are so out of sight to many con­sumers that they start to dis­re­gard the re­al­ity of food pro­duc­tion in this coun­try.

When no Aussie farmer will grow enough Aus­tralian food, then we can just im­port it. Surely with the world sit­u­a­tion as it is, that food se­cu­rity is just as im­por­tant as defence, fuel and en­ergy.

But, alas, farm­ers don’t make enough noise, Vi­o­let.

They are way too busy just try­ing to earn a liv­ing, while you can pick your fruit and veg­eta­bles from Woolies and then whinge about the price.

If you want to re­ally make a state­ment, then start by telling every­one that farm­ers are not get­ting profit out of a $ 2 pun­net of straw­ber­ries, or a $ 1 litre of milk. Farm­ers are leav­ing the in­dus­try ev­ery sin­gle day.

One day, the logic will de­ter­mine that there are not enough to feed us, then we will have to im­port in­fe­rior, sec­onds, marked, blem­ished and un­wanted food from other coun­tries, and with no com­pe­ti­tion what do you think you will be pay­ing then for your pre­cious fruit, nuts, sprouts and veg­gies? DE­BRA GIB­SON, Pin­na­cles.

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