News

Food and fibre producers need the PM’s support

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September 07, 2017

It was pleasing to see Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paying a visit to Sussan Ley’s Farrer electorate this week.

However, from the media coverage I have seen, there does not appear to have been a lot of discussion about issues faced by the many food and fibre producers across the electorate.

I agree that issues on Mr Turnbull’s radar, such as energy prices and inland rail, are important topics which need to be openly discussed because they can benefit our economy and create jobs.

So too can our food and fibre producers, especially if Mr Turnbull is able to get a better grasp on what they need to increase production.

There are so many wonderful possibilities and opportunities across our region, which boasts impressive agricultural assets, gravity feed irrigation systems, processing plants like the largest rice mill in the Southern Hemisphere — the list goes on.

Unfortunately, when Mr Turnbull was water minister a decade ago he introduced a Water Act, which has been an unmitigated disaster, at huge cost to the Australian taxpayer.

What is even more unfortunate is that Mr Turnbull seems reluctant to acknowledge its failings and appears to be frightened of taking proactive steps to improve our use of water, possibly because he fears a political backlash from influential environmental groups.

If Mr Turnbull had taken time during his visit to the area he could have visited regions like the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn valleys, which have the capacity to feed people domestically and throughout the world, provide endless job opportunities and help get the nation’s debt back on track.

I hope that during his visit Ms Ley spoke to him about the failings of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and reiterated comments she recently made about how it has battered and bruised towns in her electorate.

Hopefully, she also took the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister about the environmental damage this plan is causing as it tries to force huge volumes of water through her neck of the woods, causing the collapse of the Barmah Choke, river bank slumping and erosion.

With political commitment we can protect our precious Murray River environment, as well as the food and fibre producers on whom the nation relies.

At present that commitment is lacking.

I hope that message was reinforced to Prime Minister Turnbull while he was in our region.

—Alastair Starritt, Moama, NSW

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