Normally when you hear a politician saying that they have a plan most of us tune out, ‘why don’t they just do something,’ is what we are really thinking. Well it looks as if the Coalition government has in fact delivered on their past plans for agriculture over the last six years, which is reflected in the overwhelming support given to the Morrison government at the recent election.
WAFarmers commented during the election campaign on the plans of both sides and in particular the six disastrous interventionist policies that the ALP had dreamt up, all of which really would have hurt Australian farmers. It is bizarre how the left green side of politics have a desperate need to intervene in all parts of the economy and and in people’s lives in the belief that only government can fix things. Past experience should tell them that often government is the root cause of the problem and some things government should leave well alone.
As the renown US Economist and Political Advisor to President Paul Samuelson once said, “Politicians like to tell people what they want to hear – and what they want to hear is what won’t happen.” In this election what we wanted to hear was not higher taxes and draconian carbon targets but government leaving well alone ie no new taxes and no more government intervention.
Fortunately for the Australian electorate and in particular the farming community, Shorten and Fitzgibbon’s plans did not go down well with rural Australia and are now in the dustbin of history. What is important now, is to pull apart the coalitions election policies and see what’s in it for Western Australian farmers, and how closely they align with WAFarmers’ own 10 point policy plan that we put forward prior to the election.
Out of our ten points, six were for the government to do less not more. In fact we were keen for them to leave well alone a whole range of issues including; no ban on the live sheep trade, no carbon tax on farms and agribusinesses, no change to the farm diesel fuel rebate system, no change to the Ag Research and Development system and no change to the announced personal and company taxes cuts.
No surprise, the two major political parties that actually promised to deliver policies that farmers supported ie no change, ended up with a smashing victory across regional polling booths. Over and above these policies the coalition rolled out the usual spread of promises around additional funding for country roads and mobile black spots plus top up funding for biosecurity and trade. Together this took the count to eight out of eight of the WAfarmers wish list, but that is where the win ratio ran out.
The last two of our priority policies were long shots. One was to double farm management deposits and the other was for an Ag visa. The drought soaked up any funds for changes to FMDs and was replaced with $4 billion in Regional Investment Corporation loans – maybe they will help keep the pressure on the banks for farm loans, maybe not. The Ag visa policy they announced goes in the book as half a win with the coalition putting it on their list to set up a committee to look into it. This usually spells doom to a policy, but in this case with a government going into its third term they might just have the courage to jam it through.
So, 8.5 out of 10 is pretty good considering the 1.5 we missed out on and are far closer to the mark than what the ALP were promising which was 0 out of 10, plus a whole lot of pain starting with their income and depreciation tax plans and finishing with their carbon tax plan.