Since the 2012 State election, Queensland's agricultural
sector has faced a range of challenges: a savage drought,
increasing electricity prices, bio-security outbreaks, encroaching
mining projects and the generational question - who will run the
However, these challenges belie an undeniable
'opportunity' for the State: to be a global leader in
addressing world food demand, estimated by the United Nations to
double by 2050.
With the 2015 State election taking place this Saturday, 31
January, the LNP and ALP parties have released agricultural
policies intended (at least in part) to meet these challenges and
In anticipation of this historic vote – which could have
several outcomes including the return of the Government without its
leader – Senior Associate Rob McEvoy summarises the
parties' pledges and promises, which they hope will decide
marginal rural seats in their favour.
The LNP has set an ambitious goal of doubling agricultural
production in Queensland by 2040, by increasing support for farming
businesses. That support will be delivered by:
Continuing to work with industry to develop a draft Beef
Industry Action Plan – a plan to focus industry development
and opening up new markets;
Continuing to invest in agricultural research and development,
including in 2015:
$4.05 million for Sugar Research Australia;
$6.9 million to the partnership with the University of
Queensland in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food
$2.7 million to the Queensland University of Technology for
agricultural robotics and tropical pulse research.
Investing $14 million over 3 years on 'natural resource
management projects', including projects to eradicate feral
pests (such as wild dogs) and western weeds (such as the prickly
Continuing the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme
(DRAS) – which includes interest rate
subsidies, fodder, water infrastructure assistance and mental
health and community services; and
Investing to attract young people to work in the agriculture
sector, including on family farms (where younger generations are
deterred by rising debts levels).
The LNP is also heavily relying on its track-record in
Government, referring to its re-establishment of a dedicated
Department of Agriculture, reforms to Workers Compensation laws
(making it easier for farmers to employ workers) and the DRAS.
The ALP has pledged that it will:
Set up a rural job agency to match workers with employers in
rural areas (to stem youth migration to cities);
Draw up a strategic long-term research and development plan for
Boost the state's bio-security capabilities;
Invest $5 million for wild dog and cat eradication
Sponsor three food and agriculture trade missions to Asia and
the Middle East every year;
Hold an inquiry into power prices, including the impact of
prices on the agricultural sector;
Boost support for primary producers to deal with climate risks
and prepare for drought; and
Increase animal welfare oversight, including the development of
codes of practice for the humane treatment of animals (on farm, in
transport and at the point of slaughter).
Feedback from the agricultural sector
Given bi-partisan acknowledgement of the challenges the sector
faces, and its opportunity to fuel a 'food boom', the
consistent feedback from agricultural representative groups (such
as the Queensland Farmers Federation and AgForce) is that both
parties' policy commitments are underwhelming.
Speaking at a Rural Press Club (RPC) function
in Brisbane on Thursday 29 January, Queensland Farmers Federation
chief executive officer Dan Galligan commented that whilst the
LNP's goal of doubling productivity over the next few decades
was admirable, the current promises on which the party was
campaigning lacked detail.
Speaking at the same function, AgForce chief executive officer
Charles Burke praised the ALP's policies on eradicating wild
dogs and cats, but said it was alarming that Labour would reinstate
draconian vegetation management laws (which restrict land
We await the results of tomorrow's State election with
interest and will be continuing to follow the implementation of
policy commitments, whatever the outcome.
Polling opens at 8:00 am this Saturday, with 25% of the
electorate expected to have already voted during pre-polling.
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