Labor kicks off rural campaign with innovation fund

Labor kicks off rural campaign with innovation fund

Farm Online News
Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and wife Chloe at Latrobe Station in Longreach, Queensland, Tlast year. Photo Sam Rutherford.

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and wife Chloe at Latrobe Station in Longreach, Queensland, Tlast year. Photo Sam Rutherford.

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Opposition pledges $25 million for forestry, food industry research and development

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Research and development was top of Labor's agenda as it kicked off its rural election campaign.

Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon unveiled Labor's $25 million commitment to a food and fibre industry strategy, and $1.5m for a Central Queensland Livestock Centre of Excellence.

Labor innovation, industry, science and research spokesman Kim Carr said the initiative was focused on the timber industry, and would complement a suite of policies designed to support local manufacturing.

We're particularly keen to ensure that timber workers, those who work in the pulp and paper industry are able to look to a national Labor government to build their opportunities for future investment in hi-tech, high-skill jobs," Mr Carr said.

"It's on top of what we're doing with a $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund, on top of the money we're spending on the Australian Investment Guarantee, on top of the billion dollars we're spending on TAFE to strengthen skills."

Labor will also match the Coalition's $3.9 million investment in the Beef Australia 2021 event at Rockhampton.

Labor said in a statement only it understood the continuing need for innovation and highlighted opportunities in timber, wood products, furniture, paper products manufacturing, as well as developing newer materials like carbon fibre, light-weight materials, bio-products and advanced polymers.

Research and development could develop new products, open new markets and create jobs, Labor said.

The $25 million will be used to develop a national innovation framework, informed by a council of stakeholders from industry, researchers and unions.

Labor's policy pitch is reminiscent of former PM Malcolm Turnbull's innovation agenda, which died a quiet death in the 2016 federal election campaign.

Labor has also committed to introduce a milk floor price, set region-by-region, which Mr Fitzgibbon says would address a market failure that has made dairy farming un-economic in many regions.

Mr Fitzgibon says Labor would also investigate the introduction of a national dairy industry commissioner, to coordinate between government, milk processors and farmers.

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