Few good options on offer with this election

Native veg, carbon and biodiversity policies lack understanding and practicality


Opinion
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The Coalition's stewardship trial currently on the table is about the only concept at a federal level that might help start to bring about the kind of change we need.

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On the front page of Wednesday's SMH, Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to fight "environmental rules that are hurting jobs". This is far too simplistic a conversation.

Labor, conversely, is just as bad, saying it will meet Paris carbon targets by rolling out Queensland native vegetation laws nation-wide.

Meanwhile, the feedback in this week's Global Assessment Report was sobering, but upon reflection highlights where the Coalition's one environmental saviour might be - its stewardship trial.

Yet, Mr Morrison seems to have missed this potential gem. He has left the "sell" on that one to Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, when really, it should be a much bigger part of the whole of the Coalition's election message.

RELATED READING:Global Assessment report and the need for 'transformative change

Further, these discussions seldom include farmers, despite farmers holding and managing a large portion of the land mass across which we can make a real difference.

Another issue is foreign aid, currently at record lows. A lot of this spend is going to countries that lack our space and ability to produce food, a factor in many regions which is contributing to the increase in immigration pressure upon our shores.

Entrepreneur Dick Smith, in a podcast on theland.com.au this past week, said we need to concentrate overseas welfare on educating women and providing them with family planning options.

Foreign aid may be at record lows, but it could be every bit as effective if targeted at those "levers" that would make the most difference. We can probably create bigger, more positive environmental change as a nation if we got that right, than if we locked up all the trees in Australia, because education and population go hand-in-hand with carbon emissions and environmental management.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said last week that switching to carbon neutrality saved farmers money. Yet, he's missing a vital point by ignoring the cost to farmers.

As Rabobank's global chairman Wiebe Draijer said (see p23), the transition into sustainability comes with risk and cost. Farmers need support through that transition, and the objectives need to include productivity and profitability.

The Coalition's stewardship trial currently on the table is about the only concept at a federal level that might help start to bring about the kind of change we need.

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