(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
PRIMARY PRODUCER PROTESTS
when we see a string of heavy agricultural tractors on a public road, police
escorts and placards protesting some farming related matter we can be pretty
sure we are watching some international TV News program. Almost as certain we
are watching an event in France where French farmers are protesting about a
threatened reduction in some rural subsidy.
so any longer. A 2005 event of this nature occurred in Australia where Tasmanian
potato growers protesting, not about the removal of some overgenerous subsidy
but more importantly, the removal of their market altogether.
organised a protest rally driving from Tasmania to Canberra, which is probably a
distance greater than across the whole of France in the hope of getting some
support from a disinterested Australian government.
Australian primary producers are now well and truly on notice that assistance of
any kind from Canberra is virtually nonexistent. For many years farmers could
rely on the National Party to look after their interests, however
coincidentally, but in recent years even that small glimmer of light has been
present leader of the National Party, Mark Vaile was the then Trade Minister in
the Howard Government. He devoted his time to setting up “Trade Agreements”
which excluded the right of Australian farmers to access the trade partners
markets while at the same time seemingly advancing the interests of other
with so many of these agreements the other sides interests are not really
agriculture. Their agricultural industries are already heavily subsidised and
our imports there would cause local political disharmony. Their interests cover
other things like pharmaceuticals and finance and they win these cases without a
Minister for Agriculture, Warren Truss, while all of this was going on was
aiding and abetting his then Trade Minister colleague by deconstructing the
Australian Quarantine Service. This would ensure that primary produce could come
in from diseased countries, not those party to the agreement but those with
their corporate agricultural industries run by or financed by the “Treaty
is only recently that the Federal Court has had to come in on the side of our
farmers. What a shame it is that a Federal Court Judge is left with the task of
looking after Australia’s disease free status while the government swans
around looking after the interests of anyone else in the world.
yes, I am referring to the American Free Trade Agreement. And yes I am referring
to exotic diseases in pigs. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
then Minister for Agriculture, Warren Truss, has recently been removed from this
baggage and promoted to the Minister for Transport.
this portfolio at least he will have the opportunity of learning that there is
no form of transport in the world capable of removing him from the stench he has
left at Emerald in Queensland. That whole district is now ruined as a
consequence of his protracted inaction in dealing with the actual importation of
the exotic disease of citrus trees, citrus canker, an importation of which he
had more than adequate prior knowledge.
in the citrus canker matter it was the Federal Court that found itself with the
responsibility of looking after the interests of the citrus growers and the
people of Emerald. But the Courts efforts were soon “overcome” by the
expect the lesson from all of this is that primary producers of Australia are
clearly without political representation and even if you don’t grow potatoes,
sugar cane, bananas, mangoes and citrus fruits or raise pigs or perhaps a dairy
farmer, then you can be confident that your turn is coming.
As the Federal court judge basically said, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
Monday 16 January 2006
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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870