ALP, Greens behind the Agriculture eight-ball
TWELVE months ago, Queensland Labor Party members were running to the aid of landholders and businesses impacted by a proposal for compulsory acquisition of prime land for military use.
Now, they can't even respond to requests by AgForce - an agricultural body looking out for the interests of farmers and agriculture businesses - to discuss issues and outline what policies the party has going into this weekend's State election.
AgForce yesterday released its State Election scorecard which uses a 'star system' to rate the agricultural commitments announced by the major and minor parties against the four policy priority areas in AgForce's 'Thriving Farms, Thriving Queensland' platform.
"The LNP responded to our score card election request. Some of the major parties did not respond,” AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said.
"The Labor Party didn't respond, even though they had some election announcements.
"It's actually very disappointing. You would have thought given the rap over the knuckles the parties have had over the past 12 months that they'd take the opportunity to talk through with us on the issues but they (ALP) didn't respond. That's their call.
"It's a busy campaign. We would've liked to have seen a response.”
A spokesman for acting Agriculture Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said a draft response to AgForce's request had been written but had not been signed off by the deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk before Agforce's deadline.
Mr Maudsley said on the major issues around telecommunications, growing agriculture, looking after the environment and also connecting consumers, the LNP came out ahead.
"If we look at the outcome the LNP, One Nation and Katter's Party pretty much are ahead of Labor and the Greens,” he said.
The four policy priority areas included Supporting our Rural Families; Healthy Environments - Protecting Our Land and Water; Growing Agriculture and Enhancing Profitability; and Connecting Queensland.
Mr Maudsley said demand for Queensland's high-quality food and fibre was growing, and political parties needed to adopt policies that take agriculture forward, not hold it back.
"This State Election has seen some welcome infrastructure announcements such as the LNP's pledge to invest in regional roads, dams and bridges, as well as $20 million towards fixing mobile phone black spots in the bush," he said.
"Both Labor and the LNP committed to Bruce Highway upgrades and more wild dog exclusion fencing, with Labor committing $5 million over two years for fencing and the LNP promising $25 million over four years for various pest and weed management measures, including cluster fencing.
"The Katter's Australian Party and One Nation also provided solid support for an agricultural growth agenda, backing better roads, improved water access and new dams.
"With about two-thirds of Queensland still drought declared, it was also good to see all political parties acknowledge the need for continued assistance and to improvements for future events."
Mr Maudsley said vegetation management laws was the biggest issue of concern to AgForce members and the biggest point of difference between the political parties.
"While the LNP, KAP and One Nation have voiced support for maintaining fair and balanced laws put in place by the previous Government, Labor and the Greens want to re-introduce flawed laws already rightly rejected by the Queensland Parliament," he said.
"All Queensland farmers have ever asked for are fair and balanced vegetation management laws so we can provide food for dinner tables across Australia and throughout the world.
"More and more farmers are voluntarily adopting best management practice programs and politicians need to recognise that sustainable development and good environmental outcomes can be achieved without always resorting to more regulations."
Mr Maudsley said other positives announced during the campaign included the LNP's $10.8m biosecurity boost and $2m for quad bike safety rebates, while Labor promised $10m for Rural Economic Development Grants and $1m for chickpea and pulses research and development.
"Overall, several but not all of AgForce's policy priorities have been supported by major and minor parties," he said.
"We will be encouraging the Government, whomever that may be after Saturday, to develop a co-ordinated, whole-of-government approach in consultation with industry to deliver long term, strategic and sustainable policies to grow Queensland agriculture.
"Because if agriculture thrives, Queensland thrives."