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 the common retort. 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 election.
WAFarmers has commented during the election campaign on the plans of both sides and in particular, the six disastrous interventionist policies that the ALP had which really would have hurt Australian farmers. It is bizarre how this side of politics have a desperate need to intervene in all parts of the economy to fix things, even 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 lower taxes and less government regulations.
But fortunately Shorten and Fitzgibbon’s plans did not go down well with the farmers and miners across 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 10 points, 6 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.
Surprise surprise, a government that actually promised to deliver policies that farmers supported ended up with a smashing victory at the polls.
Over and above these policies there was the usual spread of promises around additional funding for country roads and mobile black spots plus biosecurity and trade got extra dollars, so that’s another couple of ticks which took them to 8 out of 8. But that is where the win ratio ran out.
Our last 2 wish list 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 is a 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 out of 10 is pretty good considering the 2 we missed out on are not dead policies like what the ALP had in store for farmers, which really would have stopped some farms dead. A quick run through of the coalitions 20 policies in detail sees the usual focus on drought and the Murray Darling water for our eastern states cousins. The coalition details common sense policies around climate change via the clean energy fund minus the mad clearing bans that the ALP had ready to roll out, plus a range of odds and sods that are neither here nor there.
So, all in all a good outcome. The one last thing WAFarmers wants to see is David Littleproud saddled up again as our Ag Minister. Why, because he really has brought home the bacon and is on track to deliver for Australian agriculture. If he can push the supermarket majors to keep cranking up the price of milk and back off on some on the stocking density restrictions on the live export trade he could well go down as one of the great Australian Ministers for Agriculture who delivered on his plans.