Labor attacks farming

As part of the Coaliton’s agriculture, water, drought and environment policy committee, I was at a forum in Wagin listening to sheep producers and those directly and indirectly affected by the Labor Government’s phase out of live sheep exports.
Many of those at the forum made the effort to tell me about the significant impacts this decision has had and continues to have on their business, their family, their local small businesses, their communities and in some cases their health.
Committee chair Rowan Ramsey’s Live Sheep Export Private Member’s Bill was debated this week in the Federal Parliament.
This just further highlighted the Labor Government’s complete disconnect and total lack of understanding between its policy decisions and the reality faced by farmers.
In fact, during the debate on the Bill, one Labor speaker said:
“Firstly, this policy has not yet taken effect, so to argue that farmers are struggling because of an end to the live sheep export trade is absolute nonsense and, quite frankly, dishonest.”
What an absolutely disgraceful and clearly clueless comment. In fact, it is an insult to our farmers.

Labor has absolutely no idea about either the practical realities facing sheep producers, the industry more broadly or the practical realities of the market or running a business.
To add further insult and cost to our farmers, the Government’s biosecurity levy (which, let’s be honest, is just another tax on hard-working farmers) continues the Labor Government’s attack on the agricultural sector.
Farmers are already paying $500 million a year in ag levies.
The additional biosecurity levy effectively taxes our farmers to pay for the biosecurity risk created by international competitors bringing products into Australia.
These are the very products that compete against our products on the same shelves. We are subsidising our competitors in the market in our own country: what madness from the Government! I can only imagine how the people I met in Wagin feel about this.
Add to this the latest version of Labor’s ute and family car tax-· no matter what decision they make, it will cost more for those of us who live and work in regional and remote Australia who need these vehicles for the jobs we do every day.
But there’s always the next attack on agriculture from this Labor Government. 

Watch out for their Nature Positive legislation which will replace the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
It’s been reported that stakeholders involved in this process have been required to surrender mobile phones, tablets and laptops before entering briefing sessions.
Unfortunately, I suspect this Act will make life even harder for those of us on the land.
I have great respect for our farmers, having lived through the deregulation of the dairy industry, and worked with my fellow farmers who were devastated by this decision.
Often there were hard and very challenging personal, family and business decisions that had to be made, so I encourage any of you who need a hand at the moment to make sure you reach out for help.
In WA, one option is the very sound and proven service available through Rural West and the Regional Men’s Health Initiative -their approach is, “Before it all gets too much … Talk to a Mate”, as a basis for their initiatives.
Give them a call and please look after yourself and your families.

Nola Marino

Source: Opinion piece, The Countryman 28th March 2024