Gough Whitlam’s valedictory point in ‘The Whitlam Legacy’ has stayed with me. His advice is:

“Never forget the primacy of parliament as the great forum for developing, presenting and explaining policy.

If we develop, define and defend our policies thoroughly before their implementation, we will be much less likely to be blown off course”.

Parliament As A Forum – Community-Based Policymaking?

How wonderful if our MPs, as Gough suggests, made some genuine attempts to explain, refine and develop policy in Parliament. With our Independent MPs we might even approach something like community-based policymaking where our leaders ‘take us with them’??

Over the past few weeks I have heard on the radio various people saying we need to ‘have conversations’…yes please!

Food Production And Smart Farming A Starting Point?

Sue Neales a rural reporter whose articles I read with interest has written this week that:

“Amid the maelstrom of the vanishing car industry, there is quiet talk of a return to agriculture and food processing as the mainstay of the ‘new’ Australian economy..

Not ye olde agriculture of the past…but a farm sector driven by the significant scientific and technological advancements of the past two decades and the pressing need to double local food production and exports in just 20 years..

Australia is well placed to be an exporter of more than just food. It also has enormous potential to export agricultural skills and technology, especially in pastoral and dryland farming where Australia is regarded as a world leader.”

How To Proceed?

Comments From The Global Food Forum:

FIRST: We have the technology but we need the people ie future farmers with brains and education, reports Sue Neales. With Agriculture not coming across as ‘sexy’ and the lack of young people looking for opportunities here, Professor Jim Pratley‘s report has called for:

  • farmers, rural leaders, businesses and universities to work together to raise the profile of careers in agriculture
  • more agricultural subjects in secondary schools
  • the retention of specialist agricultural high schools
  • better integration of national agricultural issues into school curricula, starting from primary school

SECOND: Moving from a ‘mining boom to a dining boom’. These are the words of Anthony Pratt, Visy executive chairman, repeated at the recent Global Food Forum by Terry Davis of Coca-Cola Amatil. He said:

“How we reduce our high labour costs without materially impacting on ordinary Australians’ living standards is a core issue – to address this in part, I would like to see a review of payroll taxes by the states. The federal government ..can facilitate a rebalancing of state government revenues as part of the tax reform agenda.”

THIRD: Boosting Investment Across The Entire Supply Chain Goodman Fielder CEO, Chris Delaney, told the Forum:

“If Australia is serious about developing its food industry and also becoming the food bowl to Asia..that means having the most efficient supply and manufacturing right across the value chain from grower to processor to retailer, including our capacity to export.

Our national interest, therefore, can be served by ensuring we attract and sustain the appropriate level of investment right across this value chain.”

Dealing With Our High Labour Costs

Terry Davis says where government can provide leadership is to balance our high labour cost environment by providing non-mining manufacturing with investment allowances.

Accelerated depreciation allowances would allow Australian manufacturers to invest and

“produce premium brands to profitably service the growing middle class of Asia”.

Let’s have some conversations!

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