Browsing articles in "rural"
Friday 7th February 2014 - 5:03 pm
Comments Off on Coping with drought

Coping with drought

by Alan Thornhill

Australian farmers need access to a comprehensive package to help them cope with drought in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, a farm chief has warned.

The President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Brent Finlay, said farmers prepare for drought, as well as they can.

But he said: “The current drought has been exacerbated by 2013 being the hottest year on record for Australia, combined with the lowest rainfall on record for many areas.

“For many farmers the drought comes hot on the heels of a range of issues including the high Australian dollar and suspension of live exports,” Mr Finlay said.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is sympathetic.

He said his government had already increased the amount it is willing to lend to drought stricken farmers, under a scheme set up by the previous Labor government.

Mr Abbott told reporters: “…we’ve made more money available to farmers in Queensland, which is the worst hit area….

“ So, we are already adjusting an existing scheme to be helpful…”

Mr Abbott also said his Agriculture Minister, Barnarby Joyce is talking to farmers and to the farm groups

“And we accept that for those parts of Australia which have been very badly hit by drought, more needs to be done, and we will do more.

“But we’re also very conscious of the fact that we have to be a fiscally responsible government and we have to be a fair government and our response to this issue will be fiscally responsible and it will be fair, but it will be a response, he added.

The Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss, said his party, too, is focusing on issues raised by the drought.

“Members and Senators discussed organisational arrangements and the agenda-setting priorities for the year ahead,” Nationals leader Warren Truss said after a party meeting in Bundaberg.

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Thursday 6th February 2014 - 11:22 am
Comments Off on Farm leader hails new study

Farm leader hails new study

by Alan Thornhill

A leading farm organisation has hailed a new study of the issues facing Australian agriculture.

The study, by the Federal government, is called the Agricultural Competiveness White Paper.

Bret Finlay, the President of the National Farmers Federation, described the study as “a strategic mapping tool for the future.”

He said it would identify pathways and approaches to increasing farm profitability.

It would also identify ways of boosting agriculture’s contribution to economic growth, trade, innovation and productivity, Mr Finlay said.

Friday 24th January 2014 - 7:16 am
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PM pushes trade at WEF

by Alan Thornhill

Tony Abbott says world leaders “should all be missionaries for freer trade.

The Prime Minister made the remark in his final address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Just as trade within countries increases wealth, trade between countries increases wealth,” Mr Abbott told the political and business leaders who attended the Forum.

“That’s why we should all be missionaries for freer trade,” he said.

Australia is to assume the presidency of another world body, the G20, soon, and Mr Abbott declared that his government would use that opportunity, too, to promote free trade.

“At the very least, the G20 should renew its commitment against protectionism and in favour of freer markets,” he said.

“Each country should renew its resolve to undo any protectionist measures put in place since the Crisis.

“Better still, each country should commit to open up trade through unilateral, bi-lateral, plurilateral and multi-lateral actions and through domestic reforms to help businesses engage more fully in global commerce.

“As a trading nation, Australia will make the most of its G20 presidency to promote free trade,” the Prime Minister said.

Over time, everyone benefits because, in a global economy, countries end up focussing on what they do best.

“A more global economy with stronger cross-border investment eventually helps everyone because it generates more wealth and ultimately creates more jobs,” he said.

Friday 20th December 2013 - 8:18 pm
Comments Off on Disaster relief funding to be reviewed

Disaster relief funding to be reviewed

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government has ordered an inquiry into funding arrangements for disaster relief.

It will be conducted by the Productivity Commission.

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said the gtovernment is writing to the Productivity Commission asking it to examine the full scope of national expenditure on disasters.

The Commission will look,particularly, at the effectiveness of current mitigation support arrangements.

“Further, the Commission will be asked the best ways to reduce the impact of natural disasters on communities and how they recover in a sustainable way,” Mr Hockey said.

He said the Federal Government would also consult with States and Territories on the terms of reference for the review.

Emergency Services Ministers across the country have already expressed their support for an inquiry into disaster expenditure, Mr Hockey said.

“The Government acknowledges most existing disaster funding models are weighted towards response and recovery, with a focus on immediate humanitarian and economic relief and restoration of infrastructure to its previous standard ? instead of longer-term resilience,” Mr Hockey said.

“Deloitte Access Economics estimates that the total economic cost of natural disasters in 2012 exceeded $6 billion,” he added.

“In the last five years, natural disasters around the country have claimed more than 200 lives and devastated hundreds of thousands of Australians,” Mr Hockey said.

He said the Commonwealth Government provides financial support to states and territories through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Eligible people are also helped through the Disaster Recovery Payment and the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

These payments have ? totalled almost $13 billion for events since 2009.

The Natural Disaster Resilience Program already supports State and Territory work designed to enhance Australia?s resilience to natural disasters.

The Prime Minister will soon write to State and Territory leaders requesting they sign a new partnership agreement for the NDRP that will contribute $52.2 million over the next two years, Mr Hockey said.

Tuesday 10th December 2013 - 11:00 am
Comments Off on Farm leaders look to the future

Farm leaders look to the future

by Alan Thornhill

Farm leaders will meet in Canberra on Thursday to discuss ways of making Australian agriculture more competitive.

Their meeting, organised by the National Farmers Federation will be the second forum held on the Federation’s Blueprint for the future.

It follows the Federal government’s announcement yesterday, of the terms of reference for the White Paper the government is proposing on the future of agriculture in Australia.

The Federation’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Linnegar, welcomed that announcement, made by the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

“Minister Joyce has confirmed that the Federal Government’s White Paper will build on the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture – cementing its importance as a key visioning document and strategic plan for the sector,” Mr Linnegar said.

“On Thursday, key industry leaders from across agriculture and its supply chain will again meet in Canberra to drive the Blueprint forward – and the competitiveness of the sector is one of the key items on the agenda,” he added.

“And this competitiveness means a focus on both farmer profitability and the farm and wider sector’s productivity – as we must ensure that our farmers are not only producing more food and fibre to meet growing world demand, but are doing so in a way that makes them, and the wider sector, more profitable and sustainable.

“Agriculture is an incredibly important part of our national economy, and our society, so it’s very pleasing to see the Government reinforce its commitment to make agriculture one of the five central pillars of its policy focus by commencing this White Paper process. Critically though, for the sector to benefit from this process, real action has to occur.

“In the past 12 months, the agricultural sector has worked together to develop the NFF-led, industry-developed Blueprint for Australian Agriculture.

“The sector continues to work together to turn the Blueprint findings into reality. Farmers understandably want to see real, tangible action that contributes to a strong and sustainable future: exactly what we’re delivering through the Blueprint, but also what must be delivered by the Government through their White Paper,” Mr Linnegar said.

He said the Federation would also be making a formal submission to the White Paper process.

Monday 9th December 2013 - 12:41 pm
Comments Off on Downturn looming:Stevens

Downturn looming:Stevens

by Alan Thornhill

The Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, is warning that Australia could be headed for an economic downturn.

Mr Stevens told The Wall Street Journal that this country has been”building up this myth of 22 years of uninterrupted growth.”

But he added: “We would be foolish to think that we have found the secret of completely eliminating the (business) cycle, because we haven’t.”

However his predictions were not catastrophic.

“… if we are sensible and prudent and just a bit lucky, we can have cyclical downturns that are not so deep,” Mr Stevens said.

“It is the deep ones that are damaging,” he added.

“It is the deep ones that cast a long shadow on unemployment for years after,” Mr Steven said.

Thursday 5th December 2013 - 3:06 pm
Comments Off on PM announces free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea

PM announces free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, announced today that Australia has reached agreement on a free trade negotiations with the Republic of Korea.

He told Parliament that this is good news for Australia’s exporters and farmers and that new agreement will boost jobs and the economy.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, welcomed the announcement.

In a statement later, Mr Abbott said independent modelling had shown that the Agreement would be worth $5 billion between 2015 and 2030 and boost the economy by around $650 million annually after 15 years.

“As a result of the Agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on Australia’s major exports to Korea and there will be significant new market openings in services and investment,” the Prime Minister said.

“The FTA translates to higher economic growth and more jobs for Australians,” he added.

“As part of the FTA, tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, as well as resources, energy and manufactured goods,” Mr Abbott said.

“The FTA will also provide new market opportunities in Korea for Australian services in education, telecommunications and a range of professional services including financial, accounting and legal services,” he added.

Australian farmers welcomed the announcement.

The National Farmers’ Federation said the agreement would provide millions of dollars in export value to Australian farmers, including those in the red meat, grains, dairy, sugar, pork and horticulture sectors.

NFF President Brent Finlay said the deal recognises agriculture as one of the nation’s export strengths and will open opportunities for the sector in Korea.

Business also welcomed the new deal.

Director of Trade and International Affairs at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bryan Clark, said: “The announcement will provide a substantial boost to the two way trade and investment opportunity between Australia and Korea.

“The deal is comprehensive in its coverage with very few exclusions and a substantial benefit to Australia’s important sectors, particularly manufacturing, agriculture, food and service sectors like professional services. We particularly welcome and support the government’s flexibility in investor state dispute settlement and a pragmatic approach to foreign investment review board thresholds,” Mr Clark added.

TPM

Friday 29th November 2013 - 11:07 am
Comments Off on Hockey prohibits Graincorp takeover:Truss delighted

Hockey prohibits Graincorp takeover:Truss delighted

by Alan Thornhill

The Treasurer Joe Hockey has prohibited ADM’s proposed takeover of Graincorp.

Mr Hockey told reporters in Sydney today that this is the only foreign investment proposal that the new government has rejected.

“Australia’s grain export industry is an important industry,” Mr Hockey said, as he made his announcement.

The Treasurer said a 100 per cent foreign takeover of Graincorp would not be in the public interest.

He said the deregulation of the industry had already brought benefits and produced growing competition in the industry.

His decision will be welcomed by Australian farmers who were worried about the concentration of ownership that the ADM proposal would have produced.

It will also please the Nationals, the Liberal party’s rural based Coalition partner.

The Nationals Leader, Warren Truss, had fiercely opposed the proposed takeover.

At one stage, that led Mr Hockey to declare that he “would not be bullied” as he considered ADM’s bid.

Mr Truss later welcomed the decision, saying “not all foreign takeovers are in the national interest.”

“The Australian grain industry must now get on with building a strong future for itself and growing its export markets across the globe,” Mr Truss added.

“I welcome the fact that Australia will continue to have a major locally-owned company dedicated to furthering the interests of the Australian industry,” he said.

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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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