Letters to the Editor

Letter – Mr Can Do this Won’t Do

Beef Central, 24/02/2012


Are we going to see a shake out of farmers like the 1930’s ?

We are coming up to a State election which is probably the most significant for a long time as it will set the future direction of Queensland for many years.

In one corner we have the ALP with a history of very poor performance in many areas and in the other corner we have a fairly confident LNP probably taking government.

As a farmer I am concerned how the parties are going to help agriculture. The ALP’s record speaks for itself, no Department of Agriculture left, maybe nothing even left to rebuild with , plus the imminent closure of many of their facilities.

So with confidence in the LNP to address this looming problem, I looked at the CANDO LNP agricultural policy assuming they would have a good understanding of the current issues facing agriculture.

In short a very disappointing policy which displays a poor grasp of the current issues confronting agriculture in Queensland especially when the LNP states agriculture is one of the four pillars supporting the Queensland economy.

Their aim is to double agricultural production by 2040. An admirable objective but if you are producing below the long term cost of production, any astute businessman will tell you , this is not the road to success .One of the pertinent comments re the collapse of the SP tomato company were that these prices are not sustainable. The huge rise in Queensland’s rural debt in the 10 years to 2009 (QRAA figures) should also suggest something is amiss in agriculture in the state of Queensland.

The word “prosperous” was only mentioned once in their CAN DO policy – surely this is the cornerstone of any sustainable business.

They talk of a “sustainable future for agriculture “and “sustainable farming systems” without understanding that for a business to be sustainable, it has to be profitable.

‘The LNP actually wants a bigger stronger and more productive agricultural sector for the future “Again it has to be profitable for this!

It also needs to address strategic issues such as the total dependence of agriculture on fossil fuel, the effects of CSG on the Great Artesian Basin, the Vegetation Act, anthropogenic climate change and the consequential carbon tax.

They talk of agriculture and mining co-existing. I can not see how a coal mine can co-exist with agriculture. They talk of protecting strategic cropping land – what about the rest? What is their vision for it?

They talk of abolishing the carbon tax but do not address the reason of its existence, anthropogenic climate change, the evidence for which is getting shakier every day, yet ignore climatic variability which is an ever present problem and can have enormous effects on the economy.

Producers may have no control over some costs but governments do. Will they address the ever increasing cost burden on agriculture such as permits, fees, leases, clearing legislation and the carbon tax?

Increasing export income does not seem to be smart if we are producing below the long term costs of production.

They talk of unfavourable exchange rates and policy . What are they going to do about it, just continue their philosophy of “free markets” and a un-level playing field?

How can we be globally competitive when we are not making sustainable profits?

The agricultural industry has achieved outstanding productivity gains which are a tribute to the scientific sector. But many of these fields of scientific expertise are now close to or below critical mass and salaries paid do not compare with the mining sector. Productivity gains have not translated into sustainable profits and equity is being uncomfortably eroded.

There is no mention of profitability or debt in the key economic challenges. They obviously do not see this as an issue?

Mr CAN DO Newman this WON’T DO; surely you CAN DO better than this?

I would mark this assignment   as a C- as it displays very limited understanding of the current issues confronting agriculture and does not demonstrate any grasp of the fundamental causes of the problems or any clear process of how to solve these problems. There is no real strategy or vision displayed in your strategy which frightenly suggests you and your party no longer have any real understanding of agriculture , and the N in the LNP used to represent the bush ! I suggest you are addressing the symptoms , not the causes.

You claim agriculture is one of the pillars of the Queensland economy but you struggle to demonstrate understanding of this important pillar. I hope you are doing better with the other pillars.

Charles Nason


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