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Praying for change

Farmers and the communities which rely on agricultural prosperity are angry, frustrated and disillusioned.


And the community-based Speak Up Campaign says they are at a loss to understand how the Albanese Government can have such disregard for their future and welfare.


“For much of the nation’s mass media, the focus this week has been the Prime Minister’s engagement to his partner, Jodie Haydon. Outside the capital cities there is increasing despair at a government with scant regard for the impact of its policies and ideologies on hard-working Australians,” says Speak Up Chair Shelley Scoullar.


“We’re hurting, but there seems little care factor from the Prime Minister and his city-based colleagues. At times it even appears as if destroying large parts of regional Australia are part of the Government’s agenda, though I suspect it is more about the total lack of understanding and empathy for ‘the bush’,” Mrs Scoullar said.


She said across the world farmers are increasingly angry at being sacrificed for ‘green’ ideologies, with large protests in some countries, especially in Europe.


“We do not see protests of this type in Canberra due to the ‘tyranny of distance’, and farmers prioritising hard work to earn a living. But that does not mean the anger is not just as palpable,” she added.


Mrs Scoullar said peak farming organisations such as National Farmers Federation have been desperately trying to get the Albanese Government to understand the impact of its policies, including unintended consequences. However, all attempts appear to fall on deaf ears.


“When the Albanese Government was elected, rural Australia took comfort in the Prime Minister’s commitment to govern for everyone. Unfortunately, the reality has been starkly different.


“Even though so many policies will have long-term impact on cost of living for everyone, this is disregarded. Whether it’s reducing the amount of water available to grow food, pushing up employment costs, building transmission towers on productive land, poor design of the biosecurity levy, inaction on worker shortages … the list goes on. They are having a cumulative effect on farming and food prices, yet the government refuses to effectively consult and look at alternative solutions.


“We support the NFF position that suggests the Commonwealth should puts it agriculture policies under the microscope,” Mrs Scoullar said.


She added there was particular frustration in northern Victoria and southern NSW, with Water Minister Tanya Plibersek intent on barging ahead with water buybacks, despite all the evidence that they are the worst form of water recovery, and have the greatest adverse consequences.


“The lack of understanding around water policy and management from the Water Minister is beyond comprehension, and her approach will not achieve the long-term sustainable ecological and environmental goals that she claims to be aiming for. If you want river health, how about a unique approach; how about working with the people who live and breathe the rivers and their surrounds every day?


“Instead, the Water Minister and most of her colleagues won’t travel past their concrete surrounds. She makes decisions from her city office that suit a political agenda, but are not in the best interests of the environment, food production, regional communities or our nation as a whole.


“When Speak Up was formed eight years ago we had a commitment to be apolitical. Right now, we cannot sit back and ignore the seemingly deliberate damage to rural Australia, which will inevitably flow-on to the cities, by a Government that does not value the contribution of agriculture and rural communities to this great country. We can only hope and pray for a change of attitude,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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