Opinion: Ag zeal needs action
ELECTION time always seems to bring renewed enthusiasm for agriculture from our political parties and our primary wish is that this carries over after the election, as it often feels like our sector is taken for granted.
Production horticulture is worth $2.6billion to the Queensland economy and employs more than 25,000 people.
It is often the lifeblood of regional communities as our seasonal labour requirements bring much-needed tourist dollars into small towns.
Unlike other sectors, there will always be a demand for fruit, vegetables and nuts and Queensland is in the unique position of producing a huge range of commodities all year round.
Both the LNP and Labor emphasise the importance of agriculture in their election platforms but fall short on dealing with the major issues facing production horticulture.
Disappointingly, neither party seems willing to address the significant disparity in funding between animal and plant biosecurity, which is our number one election request of any incoming state government. Both parties address the need for better ministerial engagement with peak bodies, but it does have to be said that the Agricultural Cabinet Committee proposed by the LNP has the potential to give the sector the cross departmental support needed for our sector. We do welcome the announcement of a major investment in fruit fly management and horticulture data collection in Bundaberg by the Labor Party, but would question why the data collection is not statewide, as lack of accurate information is hampering our sector's capacity for growth.
We commend the LNP for its commitment to improved water security for agriculture and their proposal to re-establish a water and energy council to address spiralling energy costs.
We are also supportive of the initiative by the Labor Party to fund 200 more energy audits but would like to remind both parties that the savings that can be made through these initiatives in no way address the huge increase in prices, and still would ask them to consider tariff based solutions.