The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Business distress call

- With Libby Price

Every now and then, emerging loud and clear from the smog of political pontificat­ing, you think, did they really say that? When did that ideologica­l back flip happen?

Last week, the voice of business, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry sent out a distress call with the prime target for its message being the Morrison government.

It released its Better Australia for Our Future strategy. These sorts of visionary statements are usually puff pieces preaching to the converted and making an ambit claim for tax policy reform.

Tax was but a minor mention compared with the plea for urgent action to drag Australia out of this pandemic.

ACCI chief executive Andrew Mckellar warned to, ‘not become waylaid in short-termism and political opportunis­m. Now more than ever we need more policy change that can persist longer than a single term of government’.

Aha! I just heard you say, ‘here, here! Couldn’t have said it better myself’.

So what else has this ACCI dude got to say? Speaking to Country Today, Mr Kckellar said the government needed to double the skilled migrant intake to 200,000 during the next five years. When I pointed out to him that agricultur­e needed migrant workers now, he lamented the inability of state and federal government­s to come up with a unified plan to bring in migrant workers. The time for quarantini­ng it would seem has passed.

“We are not going to be able to provide an adequate number of quarantine places to address the shortage, that’s just not going to be possible,” he said.

“If you’ve got fully vaccinated workers who are ready to come in, we need to know at what point we will be able to bring those workers in without having to go through the constraint­s of quarantine. Now that can be safely done.

“It’s been safely done in other countries… If you look now in Western Europe there’s almost no quarantine arrangemen­ts.”

If that wasn’t enough to make the government break out into a cold sweat, wait, there’s more.

The strategy also called for, ‘multi-partisan consensus on clear goals to decarbonis­e the Australian economy, ending the ‘climate wars’ that have beset our public discourse over much of the past decade’.

I know what you’re thinking. If the Coalition can publicly brawl over climate-change policy, surely multi-partisan is pie in the sky.

So, I asked him if the rest of us could do it without government­s, because most sectors of agricultur­e had pledged to do it already.

“No… what we’re urging our political leaders to do is be courageous, set a longer-term narrative, let’s not just be driven by the shortterm electoral cycle,” he said.

“We have some huge natural advantages and we have to take a long-term view.”

If the science is correct, climate change is the most serious threat to our future.

How ironic is it then, that climate-change policy seems to ring the death knell of so many of our political leaders?

I won’t be around to live through what is predicted to happen. But my children and yet-to-be born grandchild­ren will inherit what we leave them.

Here’s hoping we manage to achieve what so many farmers pledge, to leave the land better than they found it.

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