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Labor’s National Food Plan Green Paper found wanting

Wednesday 18 July, 2012


The Gillard Government yesterday released the Green Paper for their National Food Plan. Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone says while the document says many of the right things, when placed against what they are actually doing, it doesn’t stack up.
“They point out that by 2050, world food demand is expected to rise by 77% in monetary terms, with much of this growth happening in neighbouring Asia. This could give our food sector strong prospects for the long term, but instead, Labor is taking water away from food production via the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“They recognise that 90% of food production jobs & 50% of food processing and manufacturing happens in Regional Australia. However, feedback on the Draft Basin Plan clearly pointing out the devastating effects, socially and economically, of taking 2750 gigalitres of irrigation water away from country communities, was ignored.
“The Green Paper states that Australia has significant advantages in agricultural production and export trade due to its freedom from many pests and diseases. The Gillard Government though put our local apple and pear growers at risk in the Goulburn Valley when they lifted a 90 year ban on apple imports, paving the way for the disease Fire Blight to enter our country via New Zealand apples.
“The impact of coal seam gas mining is raised, but only in passing. Prime Agricultural land is now being mined in Australia, reducing our food production area. This is also despite question marks over what it will do to water quality, including water used for food production. Labor’s answer is to establish a committee to investigate the situation.
“The Gillard Government has also established a working group to develop a foreign ownership register of Australian farmland and agribusiness. However in the Green paper, they state they won’t be reducing foreign investment in the agricultural sector. Therefore, the only benefit of the register will be to watch while chunks of the country are sold off. Foreign investment is described as a good thing financially for Australia, yet if another country grows food and then exports it, they pay no tax or levy. Instead, they get a free ride.
“While Labor talks about the importance of food security, they continue to make it harder and harder for people on the land. The introduction of the Carbon Tax will reduce profit margins and make our farmers less competitive with their overseas counterparts” Sharman Stone said. “Labor is right when they say food security is important. Pity they don’t seem to mean it.”


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