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TAS Country : May 31st 2012
Friday, June 1, 2012 Tasmanian Country 11 Opinion Scant regard to farm future TFGA matters with Jan Davis 'The State Budget ... bore all the hallmarks of the firm hand of the Greens on the shoulder of government' IHAVEtosaythedayI read the State Budget pa- pers, scouring them for some recognition of agri- culture, I wondered out loud why we bother putt- ing in comprehensive pre- Budget submissions. A journalist recently went through the exercise of matching our 2012 suggestions with what the Budget delivered. He scored it 1/18. That was perhaps a tad harsh, but nonetheless reflected the black and white words in the Budget. I keep saying till I am blue in the face things are going to get worse here before they get better --- and agriculture is one of the few areas in the econ- omy in which there can be optimism and prospects for growth. The Government cannot rely on us to achieve this potential based solely on the irrigation infrastruc- ture rollout, and expect it has to do nothing else. The State Budget was a very disappointing re- sponse to our financial woes and bore all the hall- marks of the firm hand of the Greens on the shoulder of government. You can see that in (belated) payments to pig farmers to end their use of sow stalls ahead of the rest of Australia; and peanuts to compensate Tasmanian egg producers to move from caged production, again years ahead of the rest of the industry and with no understanding of market forces. At the same time, we have what I call peak paddock imposed on us in 2015 when no more new forested land can be cleared for agriculture. Expansion of our agri- cultural enterprises in the decades to come will have to be squeezed into the fields you see today. That is forward-thinking for you. Meanwhile, the Depart- ment of Primary Indus- tries, Parks, Water and the Environment is being cul- led in the way health, education and police were last year. Yet, we see no removal of red or green tape and no move to light- en the regulatory burden on our industry. To give credit where credit is due, though, the Government has an- nounced a new ''Taste of Tasmania'' program de- signed to optimise the use of the Tasmanian brand to create new customers and markets for producers. That is something for which they should be com- mended. The Tasmanian Far- mers and Graziers Associ- ation never will back one political party to the ex- clusion of all others. That is not our role, but what we are entitled to do is to examine the policies of all parties as they affect far- mers, to comment on dif- ferences and lobby for change. So, in stark contrast, the Liberal Party's agricul- tural policy, their first ma- jor policy release, picks up many of the TFGA's rec- ommendations from our Budget submission in January. Significantly, they support a private for- est sector largely ignored in the current secret talks and the intergovernmental forest agreement; and they pledge to reduce the over- bearing bureaucracy that inhibits farming and ag- ribusinesses further driv- ing the economy. That is reflected in the Opposition's alternative budget, which we describe as a step in the right direction. Tasmania's wealth creation will derive from our own endowment of natural resources and the skills of our people. It cannot be some sort of Utopian plan funded by the GST revenue of other states, grudgingly re- directed to the place they regard as the runt of the Federation litter and a publicly-funded national park. The eyes of the rest of the nation are upon us -- and they don't like what they see. Our unique Tasmanian advantage is our points of difference, not (in)ability to emulate what others have. To make the most of that, we need to invest public funds in research, develop- ment and tools to enhance productivity and com- petitiveness. We need to see commitment to reduc- ing the sea freight cost impediments that stand in the way of us making the most of our resources and endowments; the import- ance of wage competitiven- ess as an integral part of keeping people in jobs also needs to be addressed. I believe people are look- ing to our politicians --- of all hues --- to provide us with a comprehensive vi- sion of where we might be in 20 or 50 years' time. Times will inevitably get tougher before they get better. If we are to see our way through these chal- lenges, it is really import- ant that we know what the destination looks like. 4.99% Finance* www.iseki.com.au For more information on the Iseki range contact your local Iseki dealer. 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May 24th 2012
June 7th 2012