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TAS Country : March 31st 2011
12 Tasmanian Country Friday, April 1, 2011 Opinion www.tfga.com.au Time to exercise plougher power UNOPPOSED: TFGA president David Gatenby is back in. TFGA matters with Jan Davis He is passionate about Tasmanian agriculture and the ability of farmers to maximise their influence in their own affairs and wider public debate and policy making.' TFGA's annual meeting is coming up soon; and one of the items on the agenda is election of new board directors. Under our constitution, there are three categories of director: those nominated by the commodity councils and ratified by the annual general meeting; two independent directors nominated by the board and ratified by the annual general meeting; three directors representing Tasmania's tele- phone districts (62, 63 and 64). Each director has a three-year term. We rotate the terms so that one category of director becomes vacant each year. This year, the directors for the telephone districts are to be elected. They are the only directors elected by the membership at large, so their position on the board and within the organisation is unique. Corporations law in this country says all directors must represent and act in the interests of the company as a whole. In other words, their vote cannot be tied to one particular sector. It is a very important principle but one that has not always been clearly understood by all members. For the elected directors from the telephone districts this means that they are directly answerable to the people who elect them but they have to act for the common good. Because we received more than one nomi- nation for the 62 and 64 telephone districts, there will be elections for those two directors. In the 63 district, David Gatenby, who is also the TFGA president, was unopposed and will be re-elected. That is a great tribute to David who has dedicated the last two years to the role of director and president. David has had a life-long associ- ation with the TFGA and its predecessors. He is passionate about Tasmanian agriculture and the ability of farmers to maximise their influence in their own affairs and wider public debate and policy making. He is also a great mentor to Tasmania's young farmers. Members have just 14 days to exercise what is their most important power within the organis- ation: the election of directors. The ballot closes on April 15 and the outcomes will be announced at the AGM on May 17. Ballot papers for these two electorates were posted to all full-levy-paying members in those areas last week. If you have not received a ballot paper, and you think you should have done, please contact the TFGA office. This is the opportunity for all farmers to have their say about how the organisation is being run. If you don't vote, there's not much point arguing that you disagree with a policy or decision . Horizon bright for producers From Page 3 ''Summer rainfall has positioned most producers very well as we head into the winter season. Senti- ment is very much being driven by an expectation of continuing high commodity prices and more so, an ability to capitalise on them.'' Mr Knoblanche said things were looking very positive overall for Australian agriculture. ''I can't remember the last time we had such a favourable summer season coupled with record com- modity prices,'' he said. While the high value of the Australian dollar has moderated returns to exporters, Mr Knoblan- che said it had also helped to mitigate the costs of imported inputs such as fertiliser, farm chemicals and fuel. The survey has revealed that about 52 per cent of farmers expect performance of their own business to improve over the next year, up from 49 per cent last quarter. The largest confidence in- creases were seen in Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia. Cyclone Yasi and severe flood- ing had a big impact in Queens- land which recorded the lowest level of farmer confidence. Despite the challenges of a wet summer, the survey revealed pro- duction expectations for the next 18 months had increased The truth becomes a non-core commodity OVER the FENCE John Rich TRYING to follow the activities of politicians and political parties, federal or state, these days is like trying to grasp hold of a live eel. Almost every day we see examples of broken ''non-core'' political promises. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is as guilty as her predecessors of breaking promises, but naturally refuses to admit this is the case. An prime example is her pre-election statement that there would be no carbon tax. Voters would have been influenced by this Labor Party policy. Now, she totally supports a carbon tax, saying this will be good for all Australians. The carbon tax proposal is a complete backflip on pre-election Labor Party policy and is now being put forward without an explanation of why it is imperative. This might make sense if China, India and the US were seriously gearing up to reduce carbon emissions. Without this happening, Australia's stand becomes little more than a grandstanding at a cost to all consumers and probably a trade-off with Bob Brown's Greens for something else. In the absence of anything from Tasmania's Federal Labor politicians, one can only assume they are all in support the fact that Julia Gillard will not honour her promise. Former PM Kevin Rudd called climate change ''the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time''. His failure to deliver climate change legislation was one of the things that brought him down. His sacking from within his own party was not something that should happen to any Australian prime minister and is a poor reflection on the calibre of the people running this country. Tasmanian politics is not exempt from broken promises and distortions of the truth. Former treasurer Michael Aird always insisted the government's financial position was good. Almost as soon as Lara Giddings became premier, she had the difficult task of explaining that things were pretty crook. I have sympathy for what the Premier has to do, but I am reminded that Lara Giddings was a senior member of Cabinet during the years we were continually told all was well. It is alarming that State Labor is trying to imply that the decline is the fault of the former Liberal government --- when Labor has governed in Tasmania since 1998. It is somewhat ironic to see how each side tries to ''belt'' the other on the matter of broken promises. The message is that it is quite OK to make promises on any and all issues and not keep your word. This is very un-Australian. Maybe there are times when changing circumstances mean that a promise cannot be kept. Fair enough, so long as there is a proper and complete explanation of why the promise was made and what has changed. That is the very least the voting public deserves. The conduct of politicians during sittings of Parliament leaves much to be desired. Children recently in the House of Assembly in Hobart were treated to what could only be described as despicable action by the politicians from both sides. The interjections, the language and the disregard for the rules and lack of respect for persons speaking was quite bizarre. The message to the public is that it is quite OK to show disrespect and verbally attack anyone with an opposite point of view to your own. This too is un- Australian. The politicians are setting a bad example. There would seem to be reason to wonder if they even care about this bad image. It is also odd that high-profile politicians from the federal and state Greens are actively supporting protests against the Gunns pulp mill. How can those who are directly involved as part of the legislative process be seen to be rallying people against legitimate and lawful business activity? I don't know who to believe about the pulp mill, but I do not believe the majority of Tasmanians is opposed to it. I do know that Gunns has spent a bucket of money complying with all of the Government's requirements regarding the mill in order to meet the stringent environmental and other guidelines. The opponents of the mill do not appear to be required to validate their claims, nor do they offer alternative and well-researched information about wealth and jobs creation for Tasmania, should the mill not proceed. What is it in the system that appears to require an opposite point of view to be expressed against almost all policy statements made by either of the major political parties? This leads to the question: who should be believed. For example, why should I believe Julia Gillard on the issue of carbon tax and, likewise, why should I believe Tony Abbott on this matter? One of them could be right, but, the multi-million-dollar question remains. Who?
March 24th 2011
April 7th 2011