Promises for regional areas are flying thick and fast in this state election, with billions of dollars being splashed around to encourage us to give our vote to one candidate or party over another.
To help the parties make the best investment in agriculture, NSW Farmers developed the FOCUS blueprint, identifying 15 priority investment areas to drive growth in the state’s agricultural sector.
Many of these areas, such as roads and digital infrastructure and airport agribusiness precincts, have topped the list of commitments. The coalition’s pledge to invest $2.5 billion to upgrade the Great Western Highway is a good example. It is encouraging to see a range of commitments to date from the major parties - including a bipartisan commitment to extend the wild dog fence in western NSW and support for local mental health services.
However, there remains no commitment, except from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, for a legislated right to farm and farm trespass laws. Similarly, a commitment to develop a farm income protection insurance market in Australia is lacking.
Red and green tape facing farmers continues to mount, and there has been no serious attempt by either side of politics to tackle it. NSW Farmers would like the playing field levelled for first farm buyers - currently, a first time farmer purchasing their farm through a family succession plan pays no stamp duty. However, a farmer buying their first farm from scratch does pay stamp duty.
Commitments to boost biosecurity are lacking too. NSW Labor has committed $11.25 million, which is a welcome start and we await announcements from other parties. The environment remains a key battle ground - whoever holds government after the election must not tie our farmers up in onerous regulations founded in emotional sentiment over science.
- James Jackson, NSW Farmers president