In a com­plex time for ag, an in­dus­try body calls on govt to work with com­mu­ni­ties

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE GUERIN Agforce CEO

ON Wed­nes­day, I was hon­oured to de­liver the open­ing ad­dress at Nuffield Aus­tralia’s an­nual con­fer­ence.

The highly re­spected Nuffield Foun­da­tion fa­cil­i­tates in­no­va­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and lead­er­ship in agri­cul­ture world­wide.

The theme for the con­fer­ence – Col­lab­o­rate, In­no­vate, Cul­ti­vate – is not only in­spir­ing but in­spired. In pre­par­ing my speech, it struck me how rare the first theme has be­come.

Just as mod­ern agri­cul­ture is in­fin­itely more com­plex than at any other time, so are the com­mu­nity’s ex­pec­ta­tions of pri­mary pro­duc­ers.

As a so­ci­ety, we are grap­pling with un­prece­dented eco­log­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues that af­fect us all, but some­times it seems we have never been so di­vided.

Over the past few years, Agforce has en­gaged in a num­ber of suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships seek­ing to gen­er­ate ef­fec­tive, last­ing and in­clu­sive so­lu­tions to some of these is­sues.

Some may ap­pear “un­likely al­liances”: cor­po­ra­tions, gov­ern­ment bod­ies, charitable foun­da­tions, com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, First Peo­ples, sci­en­tists, aca­demics, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

The con­ver­sa­tions aren’t al­ways easy but are em­barked upon in a spirit of gen­uine col­lab­o­ra­tion, pro­duc­ing pow­er­ful con­ver­sa­tions fo­cused on re­sults.

The most no­table ex­am­ple is the Range­lands Di­a­logue, cham­pi­oned by the Royal So­ci­ety of Queens­land, to pre­serve these unique and pre­cious en­vi­ron­ments.

An en­tire com­mu­nity stepping in when gov­ern­ment fails to act.

Other ex­am­ples in­clude Agforce’s part­ner­ship with NAB and the CSIRO on its Nat­u­ral Cap­i­tal pro­gram and with the Abo­rig­i­nal Car­bon Fund to re­duce at­mo­spheric car­bon.

But not every­one is so col­lab­o­ra­tive. In par­tic­u­lar, the cur­rent State Gov­ern­ment and its dog­matic, eco-war­rior-in­spired agenda.

On Tues­day, we learnt it was forc­ing through par­lia­ment its Reef Pro­tec­tions Bill. This was any­thing but a col­lab­o­ra­tion and rode roughshod over in­dus­tries and com­mu­ni­ties the Gov­ern­ment was elected to rep­re­sent.

Agforce has worked co­op­er­a­tively with gov­ern­ments of many colours in its 20 years and this is the first one we’ve found that truly re­jects col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tions and agri­cul­tural in­dus­try lead­ers.

They must start in­clud­ing the en­tire com­mu­nity in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process, no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult they may find it. Be­cause that is true lead­er­ship.

Pic­ture: File

REEF PRO­TEC­TIONS BILL: Agforce is call­ing on the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment to work with the en­tire com­mu­nity be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions.

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