Issue 21: Developing the North
Sustainable and balanced development of northern Australia is a key to the future potential of agriculture to meet the demands of a growing world population and to capitalise on burgeoning opportunities in the region.
AgForce chief executive officer, Charles Burke, said a heavy blanket of legislation was stunting the region’s agricultural production potential and that the north could, with appropriate policies in place, be developed in a way that is both progressive and ecologically sustainable.
“Under the previous Government, Wild Rivers, Vegetation and Tenure legislation saw the pendulum swing too far towards conservation for conservation sake,” Mr Burke said.
“The balance between decisions based on scientific information and extreme green philosophies was lost.
“There is increased political interest in the opportunities surrounding the development of northern Australia as a ‘food bowl’.
“This can be done in an ecologically sustainable way that also considers social and economic development.
“We need the balance restored.”
Australia uses just six per cent of its available water, compared to a world average of nine per cent. Most of that water is used to produce food, with Australia producing enough to feed 60 million people worldwide.
However, Mr Burke said small increases in water use and investment in northern infrastructure would position Australian agriculture to feed up to 100 million, even before future increases in agricultural productivity were considered.
“Irrigation generates 50pc of Australia’s agricultural profit from less than two per cent of our agricultural land,” he said.
“Here in Australia we are uniquely positioned to help feed an exploding world population and we should make this important contribution to the global community.
“To do this we need capital injections, favourable tax treatment, infrastructure investment, an available labour force and good market access in the north of the country.”
Cloncurry district beef producer, Peter Hall, said social considerations must also be addressed by government.
“For the north to grow we need to have facilities and infrastructure that will attract families and employees to the region,” Mr Hall said.
“If you’re willing to stick around up here there is a world of opportunity.
“We just need that investment to stimulate industry and to help make it a place people want to live and work.”
Issue 20: Eat Red Meat
Queensland graziers produce some of the best red meat in the world to provide a key source of iron and essential nutrients to families across the globe.
Highlighting the important role the beef, veal, lamb and mutton industries play to the health of Australians and to the national economy as part of the ’30 Issues, 30 Days’ campaign, AgForce General President, Ian Burnett, said Queensland primary producers led the way in red meat production.
“Here in Queensland we have some of the very best quality red meat in the world and certainly some of the most innovative and forward-thinking operators throughout the supply chain,” Mr Burnett said.
“Not only are we helping feed our nation and many other countries throughout the world, but we are also contributing many billions of dollars to the Australian economy, providing thousands of jobs and helping to keep communities vibrant.”
Red meat is not only one of the best sources of iron to carry oxygen throughout the body, but also provides:
- Zinc – helps to keep the immune system strong;
- Vitamin B12 – important for the nervous system;
- Omega-3s – supports normal brain function;
- Protein – for growth and development;
- B group vitamins including niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 as well as Phosphorus which helps produce energy from food.
Key points outlining the significance of the Australian red meat industry include:
- Australia is the world’s largest exporter of beef;
- The off-farm value of the industry is $11.6 billion;
- Queensland is the country’s biggest producer of beef and veal;
- In 2011-12 Australia’s ate around 31.4kg per person of beef;
- Australia is the world’s largest exporter of mutton and live sheep and the second largest exporter of lamb;
- The Australian public are among the biggest consumers of lamb in the world – we each eat 9kg of lamb a year;
- There are 73.1 million head of sheep in Australia.
Mr Burnett said red meat was a way of life in Australia and the industry was one that could be trusted to provide safe, clean and delicious food to families.
“There is something very Australian about having a steak or roasting a leg of lamb,” Mr Burnett said.
“We are an industry that cares about our consumers and are committed to providing the very best product we can.
“To do this we need the support of government at all levels and we need our consumers to continue to recognise the health benefits of red meat and to continue enjoying it as part of a healthy diet.”
Issue 19: Telecommunications and NBN
Rrural and regional Queensland is being cut out of the technology revolution and left unable to tap into the latest communication innovations because of poor telecommunications services and internet connectivity.
AgForce Queensland is urging both Labor and the Coalition to urgently address these connectivity issues and to better tailor the NBN to rural areas within their communications policies.
AgForce Queensland Project Officer, Noel Brinsmead, who delivers technology-based on-farm innovation for primary producers, said the shortfall in internet speeds and mobile phone coverage across Queensland was inhibiting production, education and safety.
“The distance and low population densities have been ongoing problems for the implementation of reliable, efficient, secure telecommunication services,” Mr Brinsmead said.
“However it is the rural and remote areas where strong telecommunication is most required.
“Furthermore, the NBN will only service towns if they have 1000 premises or 500 premises and are passed by the network’s transit backhaul routes.
“This means thousands of rural businesses will miss out and there is no doubt this will impact on their ability to be successful enterprises.”
Julia Anderson, along with husband Peter, owns and operates a beef and grain business near Clermont in Central Queensland and raises two children on the family property.
Mrs Anderson said adequate communication facilities were critical to the education and safety of her children.
“We really struggle a lot and have had to place an additional aerial on our existing aerial to try and get better reception,” Mrs Anderson said.
“I have friends who are teaching children at home through distance education and they struggle as well.
“I don’t think people in the heavily populated areas understand that it’s not just about downloading movies, we rarely do that.
“Education is paramount for children and it is so difficult in these areas to get the same quality of delivery as students in other areas may take for granted.”
AgForce's 30 issues in 30 days campaign is designed to draw the attention of decision makers to 30 of the most important issues impacting on the rural sector as Australia moves towards a Federal Election. For more information click here
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