A Prime Min­is­ter fail

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

Ihate to tell you, ‘I told you so’, and not be­cause I was right on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s drought pol­icy, be­cause it would be so much bet­ter if I was wrong.

Let’s cast our minds back to when Scott Mor­ri­son be­came Prime Min­is­ter.

It might seem like time travel, but it’s only four months ago.

What was one of the very first things he did? A drought tour. Re­mem­ber?

In my col­umn at the time, I wrote: “The sim­ple fact of the mat­ter is gov­ern­ments have al­ways grap­pled with drought pol­icy and are yet to come up with a re­sound­ing so­lu­tion. Let’s hope our new Prime Min­is­ter, for his sake at least, does more than just strut his stuff and then dust off his hat and head back to Can­berra. If a very real com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing farm­ers isn’t given, it will be seen very clearly for what it is.”

Within a month we had all sorts of prom­ises and ap­point­ments – a $5-bil­lion fu­ture drought fund that no one seems quite sure how to spend, a drought sum­mit, a na­tional drought co-or­di­na­tor in Ma­jor Gen­eral Stephen Day, and of course, the rather pe­cu­liar an­nounce­ment of Barn­aby Joyce as the spe­cial drought en­voy. Very spe­cial in­deed.

As one farmer put it to me, ‘Barn­aby brought agri­cul­ture into fo­cus when he was first elected. Since then, well, what an em­bar­rass­ment’.

Frankly, Mr Joyce seems far too self-ab­sorbed in his per­sonal prob­lems than he is on com­ing up with any mean­ing­ful na­tional drought pol­icy.

The day be­fore the drought sum­mit, I at­tended a Farm­ers for Cli­mate Ac­tion con­fer­ence.

Farm­ers and farm lead­ers across Aus­tralia were there.

The chitchat over lunch was, not sur­pris­ingly, gen­eral dis­ap­point­ment in the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s in­abil­ity to take cli­mate change se­ri­ously.

A lead­ing agri­cul­tural pol­icy maker spoke of his fear the drought sum­mit would be just an­other, ‘photo op­por­tu­nity for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to look as if it cares and is do­ing some­thing about drought’.

This week was the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment’s last chance.

The Coun­cil of Aus­tralia Gov­ern­ments meet­ing – you might be more fa­mil­iar with the acro­nym COAG from – where a new in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal drought agree­ment was reached.

By all re­ports, it was pretty much sign­ing off on what drought as­sis­tance has al­ready been avail­able.

Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent David Jochinke was dis­ap­pointed with what the agree­ment did not in­clude.

“The only change that we re­ally saw in the lan­guage was recog­ni­tion that drought was a na­tional is­sue,” Mr Jock­hinke told County To­day.

“We’ve re­ally missed an op­por­tu­nity at COAG to put that strate­gic frame­work in place for a na­tional drought ap­proach.”

He also said he re­ceived sev­eral phone calls a week from farm­ers vent­ing their frus­tra­tion at the lack of di­rec­tion in fed­eral cli­mate change pol­icy.

Hardly sur­pris­ing with both the Prime Min­is­ter and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud un­will­ing to blame cli­mate change on hu­man ac­tiv­ity.

To quote Mr Lit­tleproud, ‘I don’t give a rat’s if it’s man-made or not’.

The PM must be breath­ing a sigh of relief at last week’s flood­ing rains across east­ern Aus­tralia.

Noth­ing like a flood or two to take the at­ten­tion away from drought pol­icy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.