Home' National Farmers Federation : Annual Review 2009-2010 Contents NATIONAL FARMERS' FEDERATION ANNUAL REVIEW 2009-10 15
regional businesses, families and entire
communities disproportionately a ected.
These and many other important issues already
loom as major concerns for farmers over the
coming year and beyond... property rights,
Environmental Stewardship expansion, greater
access to north Asian markets... the list goes on
The NFF's capacity to press these issues and
get the outcomes farmers want is crucial.
Since launching our new membership
structure on 1 July 2009 the NFF's member
ranks have grown by 41%. That's a great result
in 12 short months. But still not enough
farmers are involved in our member groups.
Democracy is exercised by people who turn up.
Our priorities, policy directions and the issues
we champion are determined by farmers who
get involved among our membership ranks.
I cannot impress enough upon all farmers how
important it is to be involved. We want your
input. Too often uninformed fringe groups
with radical and unworkable agendas spring
up at the margins with voices seeking to
derail NFF policy objectives. Then, upon closer
inspection, those farmers are not members.
Throwing rocks for the sidelines may warm
the cockles of one's heart but it's hardly
a contructive or worthwhile passtime. If
you like the direction we're headed in,
get involved. If you don't, get involved.
The NFF unashamedly pursues the interests
and agreed positions of its members...
those marginalising themselves at the
fringes can please themselves.
National Farmers' Federation
are important but not at the expense
of production research that gives
farmers the tools to respond to
change and generate e ciencies.
It is also good business. A recent study shows
that for every dollar spent in agricultural
research in Australia the nation derives $11
in value, or an 11-fold return on investment.
Over 2009-10 agricultural production kept
Australia out of recession with double-
digit growth when all other sectors were
oundering. But without boosting research,
productivity can only go backwards and
damage our global competitiveness.
While we have ensured those cuts were
not repeated in the 2010 Federal Budget,
a holding pattern is inadequate and the
Government knows it. (For more information
on the NFF's 2010 Federal Budget response see
the Whatever happened to Australia's nation
building agenda? feature on pages34-35)
The stark reality is that Australia needs
to dramatically boost its research and
development focus if we are to remain a
serious international player and ll the ever-
growing world order for food and bre.
Today, Australia's agricultural research
and development investment lags
behind many developing countries. It
is appalling that Australia's agricultural
research intensity has been allowed to
slide to levels not seen for 30 years.
It falls to the Federal Government to
turnaround this disturbing decline.
National Infrastructure Strategy
Capital works for a system-wide overhaul to
meet Australia's burgeoning freight task --
which is set to double nationally by 2020 and
triple along the eastern seaboard -- is needed
Our ports and fragmented road and
rail networks are choking and putting
our vital export performance at risk.
Unprecedented global and domestic
food and mineral demand is headed our
way. The world's population is on a steep
increase and expected to reach nine billion
by 2050. Our farmers can be a major part
of meeting this increased demand, but
Australia's infrastructure networks and the
regulations surrounding them are simply not
geared to deal with the volumes required.
We can produce it, but we can't deliver it.
A 'National Infrastructure Strategy'
to identify and upgrade roads, and
investment in rail and ports that tie those
facilities together in a seamless, e cient
freight system, is decades overdue.
Infrastructure Australia, set up by the Rudd
Government in April 2008, along with the $20
billion 'Building Australia Fund', established on 1
January 2009, have not yet delivered any clarity
on a strategic freight solution so desperately
required throughout regional Australia.
This clear and present need was not addressed
under the 2010 Federal Budget either.
Tax Zone Rebates
As part of the Federal Government's Review
of Australia's Future Tax System, chaired by
Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, the NFF called
for 2010 tax reform to take account of the bias
borne by regional Australians.
There are long-standing inequities for
people living and working in regional
Australia and these need to be addressed,
particularly in view of increasing pressure
on already stressed urban centres.
The Tax Zone Rebate Scheme was introduced
in 1945, recognising the higher costs of living
and the reduced services and amenities
outside metropolitan centres. However, it has
not been revisited for decades. It's time it was.
And Henry's review agreed. However,
the Federal Government's response to
the Henry Review failed to consider
this necessary course of action.
Further, existing cost burdens in regional
Australia are likely to be compounded
should the Government's Carbon Pollution
Reduction Scheme come into being. To date
there has not been enough recognition of
this reality by the Government. For example,
increasing fuel and energy costs will see
"Our plan is to better drought-proof Australian farms by investing
upfront in on-farm climate adaptation and mitigation practices.
Things we know can work"
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