Farming communities across the nation are reeling from a raft of government decisions that are destroying livelihoods and putting extreme pressure on cost of living.
It has led the community-based Speak Up Campaign to label the Prime Minister ‘Anti-Ag Albo’, and call for immediate change.
“This is the most anti-farming government our nation has seen in generations,” according to Speak Up Chair Shelley Scoullar. “Farmers are desperate for their voices to be heard, but the Albanese Government is not listening. We are at the mercy of leaders who have been born, educated and worked in capital cities and do not understand how farming works.
“Their attitudes are exacerbated by a lack of desire to consult and collaborate with farmers and their representative organisations. The government appears beholden to city-based environmental groups and it appears farmers and the communities which rely on them are of no concern to ‘Anti-Ag Albo’. His original claim to govern for all Australians has become a joke,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She cited numerous examples of government policy which is adversely affecting farmers and increasing the price of food at Australian supermarkets.
“In our region of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria a key issue is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the government’s broken promises. Previously, Labor had a 1,500 gigalitre cap on buybacks and a promise to our communities that water recovered for the additional 450GL under the Basin Plan would only occur with no negative social and economic impacts. That is vital, after all the job losses and economic pain caused by previous buybacks.
“But these promises were inexplicably torn up by Water Minister Tanya Plibersek, and to this point Anti-Ag Albo has refused to step in and honour the original Labor promises.”
Other issues of concern to farmers include banning live sheep exports which is having a big impact on sheep prices; industrial relations policy which makes it more difficult to employ seasonal staff; and destroying prime farming land in the push to build transmission lines, without considering alternatives.
“We then have the plight of barramundi farmers in Queensland, who are facing the virtual shutdown of their industry without consultation and with local communities saying the government has failed to consider broader implications.
“That is a typical comment in rural areas about ‘Anti-Ag Albo’ and his government. With the Basin Plan, Plibersek called on our communities to provide solutions, which we were led to believe would be prioritised over buybacks. Despite massive amounts of work to present viable, sensible alternatives for water recovery, the Minister announced buybacks before our solutions were even considered. What sort of a slap in the face is that to the most productive farmers in Australia?”
Mrs Scoullar said farming communities were hoping their city cousins would wake up to the impact of Albanese Government decisions on their cost of living, including the likelihood that on the current trajectory we are facing significant price increases for a vast range of fresh, locally grown produce. She added not all the impact would be noticed immediately, but the price increases would continue to build for many years as farmers were forced to reduce production, or leave the land. Additionally, there will be more imported food on our supermarket shelves, much of it not grown in the clean, healthy environment in which our Aussie farmers operate.
“That is the legacy the Anti-Ag Albo Government will leave for our children. We encourage the Prime Minister to instead learn more about Australian farming and work with our communities so farmers can continue to feed our nation at an affordable price, and the livelihoods of people on the land as well as those in country towns who rely on agriculture for their prosperity are not unnecessarily sacrificed in Labor’s crusade to win ‘green’ votes,” Mrs Scoullar said.