The State Election campaign has thrown up a mixed bag of policies for Queensland farmers.
On the positive side, there have been some welcome infrastructure announcements, such as the LNP’s pledge to invest in regional beef roads, new dams and better bridges, as well as provide $20 million towards fixing mobile phone black spots in the bush.
Both Labor and the LNP pledged Bruce Highway upgrades and more wild dog exclusion fencing, with Labor committing $5 million over two years for fencing and the LNP promising $25 million over four years for various pest and weed management measures, including cluster fencing.
Katter’s Australian Party and One Nation also provided solid support for an agricultural growth agenda, backing better roads, improved water access and new dams.
On the negative side, the spectre of harsher vegetation management laws has been the biggest issue of concern for AgForce members and the biggest point of difference between the political parties.
While the LNP, KAP and One Nation have voiced support for maintaining fair and balanced laws put in place by the previous Government, Labor and the Greens want to re-introduce flawed laws already rightly rejected by the Queensland Parliament.
This is as disappointing as it is disheartening.
More and more farmers are voluntarily adopting best management practice programs and politicians need to recognise that sustainable development and good environmental outcomes can be achieved without always resorting to more regulations.
Other positives announced during the campaign included the LNP’s $10.8m biosecurity boost and $2m for quad bike safety rebates, while Labor promised $10m for Rural Economic Development Grants and $1m for chickpea and pulses research and development.
Overall, several but not all of AgForce’s policy priorities have been supported by major and minor parties and our full election scorecard is available on our website – http://www.agforceqld.org.au
Where there are shortfalls, we will be encouraging the Government, whomever that may be after Saturday, to develop a co-ordinated approach in consultation with industry to deliver long term, strategic and sustainable policies to grow Queensland agriculture.
Because if agriculture thrives, Queensland thrives.