In an election campaign of hits and misses for farmers and regional Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation has revealed how the major parties stack up against its election priorities, rating them in a Policy Voting Guide released on Monday.
“The NFF consulted with farmers, industry and regional voters about what they require from our next Government. The resulting Time to Thrive election platform provides a clear pathway forward, offering solutions to workforce shortages; agriculture’s intersection with climate change; biosecurity funding; connectivity; regional growth; unfair competition laws and more,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
During the campaign, the NFF put the major parties’ responses to the Time to Thrive priorities under the microscope to see if they passed the “farm test” and the results were mixed.
“Australians are standing at the intersection of the next chapter for our country. The NFF’s Policy Voting Guide cuts through the spin to help voters make an informed decision,” Ms Simson said.
“Early in the campaign, Labor put the brakes on a solution to farmers’ workforce woes by all but scrapping the NFF-led Ag Visa. The Coalition continues to support the Ag Visa which they made a reality last September after six years of advocacy by the NFF. The Greens also back the Visa.
Farmers and small business remain shocked by the Coalition’s strong indication it would not continue the instant asset write-off after 2023. Labor has not indicated its position on the popular measure.
“The sector is disappointed by Labor’s intention to end live sheep exports.
“It shows that on this issue, Labor continues to bow to pressure from radical extremists and is prepared to ignore significantly improved animal welfare outcomes and the detrimental impact the decision would have on farmers and communities.”
In positive news, the NFF commended the Coalition and Labor for their commitment to sustainable biosecurity funding, which is essential to protecting agriculture and the natural environment.
“The presence of both Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease in Indonesia is a stark reminder of the non-negotiable need for an adequately resourced biosecurity system,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF notes that both major parties have comprehensive climate plans. The next piece to the puzzle is support for agriculture to better understand the challenges and opportunities on offer.
“Support for regional based advisor networks, as flagged by Coalition and Independent candidate for Indi, Helen Haines, is welcomed but more needs to be done,” Ms Simson said.
“The NFF also welcomes a commitment from the Coalition to changing the tax treatment for new commodities, such as carbon and biodiversity, a move that should be adopted by all parties.”
There’s some positive movement for regional communities, with support indicated for the NFF’s Regional Development Precincts proposal, as well as the two major parties shifting the needle with their announcements on connectivity.”
Ms Simson said throughout the pandemic and the natural disasters of the past three years, agriculture and the regions had stood tall, buffering Australia from economic headwinds.
“At the heart of our Time to Thrive platform is agriculture’s goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030 and the need for a plan for strong, vibrant regions.”
See the NFF’s Policy Voting Guide here.
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