14 August, 2010

Election promises

I read with great interest a letter and leaflet sent to me by Jamie Briggs, Member for Mayo following my application for a postal vote.

The promises were very appealing - repaying debt, stopping taxes and stopping "the boats" not to mention "doing the right thing", but it made me realise that no where in the letter were any details of exactly how this was going to be accomplished.

For example, in order to repay Labor's massive debt before my children are grandparents, one would assume that money must be acquired from somewhere. Certainly, governments can reduce their own spending but any thinking person would come to the conclusion that the money will be raised either through increased taxes or by selling what few assets the Australian public possess.

Stopping the boats is also of great concern to many voters, yet the letter is again short on detail. There are many ways to "stop a boat". Do the Liberals intend to use millions in Australian taxes to theoretically "bribe" a foreign nation to house these boat people for a few months until we fly them the rest of the way? Or will millions be sent to dictatorships overseas to deal with the issue at home? Perhaps "stopping the boats" involves our own navy?

Regardless of the questions and the lack of detail, at least we can be assured that Mr. Briggs and the Liberals intend to "do the right thing" - but again, like beauty, that is all in the eye of the beholder.

29 July, 2010

Minimal choice‏

29th July 2010

Although an independent candidate for the rural seat of Mayo, I was most disappointed at the announcement by the Nationals in SA of their decision to not contest any seats in this state.

Admittedly, on more than one occasion I have criticised the position taken by Nationals leadership on a variety of issues in the Stock Journal. It has been disapppointing the party's leadership has been silent on issues such as the financial burden on farmers stemming from the former government's debt forgiveness for Iraq, population pressure on arable land, the threats to primary producers' livelihoods posed by poorly planned Free Trade Agreements, WTO dictatorial attitudes and reduced quarantine regulations, not to mention the general impression that the leadership would prefer to keep urban based Liberals on side rather than speak out in defence of regional communities.

However, despite faults with interstate leadership, no one can doubt the connection and loyalty the grassroots Nationals membership have towards their communities and their first hand understanding of the invaluable role played by primary producers in the economic welfare of our nation.

This has been clearly supported by the calibre of candidates the Party has often produced, as could be seen by the performance of people such as Deb Thiele in previous elections.

One can understand the desire to conserve resources for a solid campaign effort in future, but the decision by the local Nationals to not contest one seat or even provide a Senate team to give regional South Australians a choice and to hopefully stimulate some debate on issues of concern to us leaves the democratic process so much poorer as a result.

05 July, 2010

Profiteering in supermarkets?

5th July 2010

Like most Australians, I certainly would not begrudge primary producers displaying signs of relief at the news of lamb tipping the $5/kg mark and celebrating some degree of good fortune.

Many Australian consumers, particularly those in urban areas, do not appreciate the work that goes into running a property nor the many factors that can have a negative effect on the farmer's bottom line.

However, as a person also involved in the retail sector I cannot understand how some supermarkets are charging consumers between $27 and (according to reports on ABCs Landline) over $41/kg for lamb!

Certainly, in a relatively free market, a product can be offered for any price a retailer chooses and the so called "unseen guiding hand of the market" will dictate whether the venture is successful. One expects there to be a mark up to cover the costs of transport, processing and power in supermarkets to keep the meat fresh, but surely such a difference in pricing indicates nothing more than blatant profiteering?

The prices demanded by the retail sector are not a true indication of the price paid to the producer of the good. Again, it may be considered an economic heresy in today's enlightened age, but isn't some form of guideline required here?

The price consumers see on the packet goes a long way to the influencing the position in which they imagine our farmers to be. They hear there is a shortage of lamb and see $41/kg in the meat cabinet and assume the farmers are driving new 4WDs and sunning themselves each year on a beach in the Bahamas.

Supermarkets need to be made accountable to both their consumers and to the supplier of their product, either through the pressure of a primary industry representative body with some teeth, or by the actions of an educated consumer-preferably a combination of both.

18 May, 2010

Mining super tax could cost Australians a lot

18th May 2010

The proposed mining super tax could possibly cost the Australian people a lot more than the loss of investment and local jobs.

The implementation of such a scheme could quite likely leave the Australian taxpayer open to compensation payments to foreign owned mining companies, under Bilateral Investment Treaties signed with countries such as China.

BITs are used to protect foreign investors from the actions of the other signatory state which could potentially affect the value of their investments. When one considers the involvement of China's Chinalco in our mining sector and the fact that BHP and Rio Tinto are 40% and 70% foreign owned respectively-Australian taxpayers have cause for concern.

Rudd may well be on moral high ground when he declares that Australians have a right to a greater share of our nation's resources, but he might want to consider reclaiming a degree of national sovereignty first and removing us from the myriad of Free Trade Agreements our governments have shackled us to first.

15 April, 2010

Foreign apples put our local fruit industry at risk

15th April 2010

It comes as no surprise the World Trade Organization has finally dictated New Zealand apples must be allowed into our market, especially considering the consistent push by Bio Security Australia to bring us to this situation, despite repeated protests by local producers.

As outrageous as this decision is given the fact that it puts at risk an industry worth $50million locally and $500million nationally, it also raises a number of very important questions.

Producers have a right to know if the former and highly inadequate inspection guidelines stipulated by Biosecurity Australia,including the need for a single inspection of apples and the acceptance of apples harvested from trees actually showing signs of fireblight have been overturned in the interests of local producers' livelihoods.

Australians also have a right to ask why our politicians remain silent on an issue of national interest? Their silence is conspicuous and an insult to the efforts and diligence shown by regional Australians to create a successful industry with an enviable reputation as a clean green provider of high quality produce.

Their silence appears to speak volumes in regards to their penchant for economic rationalist dogma and their total disdain for their constituents.

Furthermore, can the government reassure local producers they will be compensated for any economic hardship encountered should their properties become infected due to this ridiculous decision? Perhaps they believe local taxpayers' will have no problem footing the bill to keep foreign producers happy, or alternatively producers are expected to pay higher insurance premiums to cover the expected loss?

Australian primary producers make an invaluable contribution to our nation's economy, through the millions in export dollars, the provision of employment and creation of regional businesses to the simple fact they feed our nation. For too long they have had their interests ignored and betrayed- perhaps this recent decision is an indication it is time for a change.

23 February, 2010

Immigration vetting needed

23rd February 2010

The penchant held by successive governments for wasting taxpayer funds never ceases to surprise me.

Recent reports inform us that we will soon be permitted to read the new White Paper on a study into the threat posed by home-grown terrorism and the alarming trend of locals being recruited by so called extremists to Jihad against our culture.

The report has spurred the government to announce it will allocate $70 million towards improved vetting of prospective migrants.

Perhaps this could have been avoided entirely if successive governments had listened to large sections of the Australian constituency who have expressed concern about the issue of immigration levels and it's composition, rather than sweeping the issue under the carpet and denigrating their concerns as nothing more than xenophobic hysteria.

13 February, 2010

Royalties for Regions

13th February 2010

I was quite impressed by the recent letter from new Nationals leader, Jacky Abbott.

It is indeed heartening to see the Nationals grab a policy and running with it in the hope that a more equitable distribution of our states' wealth will come to regional Australia.

Royalties for Regions sounds promising, but how much will regional SA get following downturns in revenue from mining operations in our state in future? Do the Nationals intend to lock regional funding to the fluctuations of an unpredictable mining sector attracting ever more foreign control?

Given the leadership of the National Party's track record of ignoring, even betraying the interests of those of us working in regional areas (as we have witnessed following their silence on the Iraqi debt forgiveness, the Howard Government's attempts to change quarantine standards to allow imported foods and the belated defence of primary producers on the issue of property rights), I can understand why they are leaping at a program which appears to have brought benefits to our counterparts in WA.

However, the devil could well be in the detail for such schemes and I look forward to assurances from Nationals' leadership regional SA will not in fact be worse off should the bottom fall out of our very poor excuse for a mining boom in this state!

Should this eventuate, what is their fall back plan to ensure adequate funding continues to regional development, hospitals and our schools?