The war the National Farmers' Federation has declared on the Albanese Government will have little effect and livestock lobby groups have no chance of turning the federal government around on the live sheep ban.
Former agriculture minister in the Rudd Labor Government Joel Fitzgibbon spelt out his reasons for the above assertions at a conference hosted by the Australian Meat Industry Council in Queensland this week.
As the shadow agriculture minister, it was Mr Fitzgibbon who first announced five years ago a future Labor government would ban the live sheep trade and transition the industry into processing meat on Australian shores.
At the AMIC conference, he was tasked with sharing insights into how the meat processing industry could best work with a Labor government on issues like workforce and industrial relations but it was his comments on the NFF battle that drew the most attention.
NFF's Keep Farmers Farming campaign, launched last week, pushes back against key Albanese Government policies: the live sheep phase-out, the proposed 10 per cent increase on agricultural levies for biosecurity, more water licence buybacks to complete the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, changes to environmental laws and concern over the market power imbalance of supermarkets and the ongoing labour shortage.
It comes after a national survey of more than 1600 farmers revealed falling confidence in the farming sector and reservations about the approach of the Albanese government.
Mr Fitzgibbon, a senior player in political processes over a long period of time, suggested as a campaign, it was doomed for failure.
"Any general will tell you not to go to battle on too many fronts at the one time and they have taken on six fronts," he said.
"They might argue that's the strategy - put up six complaints and win one or two - but it's too broad."
He said it was also too early in the government's term to take on such a strategy.
"It's picking a fight with the wrong government because this is a relatively popular government," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"Further, governments are more vulnerable to these sorts of campaigns if the leader is in trouble. That makes a big difference because the party room is watching poll results more intensely.
"But Anthony Albanese's authority at the moment is absolute and I believe that will remain the case for at least this term.
"So the NFF is not attacking a susceptible government."
Another reason there was little chance of success was that too many of issues in the campaign were core to the Albanese government's election promises, Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"Take live sheep exports - and I have baggage on this because I recommended it be banned," he said.
"At that time the cowboys on the sea - not the producers - were in the newspapers and on television almost every second day.
"Littleproud (National Party leader and former agriculture minister) has tidied that up, almost to the point of regulating the industry to death but certainly it's been tidied up.
"But still, it was policy the current government went to the election with so to back away now would be flipping on an election promise to appease voters in seats they have no chance of winning.
Mr Fitzgibbon said there was a time to break glass but that was not now.
"By any measure there are always things you can identify a government can do better on but there is a general view in the agriculture sector that this has been a pretty good government so far," he said.
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