Wednesday, 1 November 2023

The world is staring down a food crisis.

Nations that can, must increase food production to offset a combination of inflation, drought, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a worldwide shortage of fertiliser.

So it is both puzzling and concerning why the Albanese Government is implementing measures that stop us producing more food.

In just a short time, Labor will ban live sheep exports to the protein-starved Middle East, deprive Murray-Darling farmers of enough water to irrigate 100,000 hectares of prime growing land, remove funding for important new agricultural water projects in North Queensland, give the green light for wind farms and power lines to limit activity on  farms and offshore fishing, and announced a ban on commercial net fishing.

This is a travesty and must change.

Labor’s socialist interventions in the gas market add another layer of grave concern.

Natural gas is used to make urea, a potent fertiliser and low-emissions fuel additive.

The Perdamon plant in the North of Western Australia will come online in 2027 to meet domestic demand, joining the Neurizer Urea Project in South Australia.

With AEMO warning this year that we face gas shortages, it is imperative we bring more supply online to keep the lights on, to help grow crops and open up export opportunities.

But federal and Labor state governments are making it harder for new gas projects to come online quickly enough to service domestic and international demand.

Former head of the UN’s World Food Program, David Beasley, said in 2022 that the world was “several billion dollars” short of the fertiliser needed to grow crops.

China is reserving its urea for domestic use and urea exports from Russia and Ukraine have been impacted by war.

With our huge gas supplies, Australia is perfectly placed to be a world supplier of urea as well as mineral fertilisers phosphate and potash.

Earlier this year, I wrote to the Resources Minister requesting the Government add phosphate and potash to Australia’s Critical Minerals List. So far this has not happened.

Growing food is a sacred task that Australia does extremely well.

We have space, fertile land and expertise, but our agricultural productivity is being threatened by the Labor Government’s policies that are short-sighted and that ignore global warnings.

The ban on net fishing will impact consumers right across the Eastern Seaboard.

Popular wild-caught table species such as barramundi, king salmon and mackerel are readily found in fish markets from Cairns to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and they reach our plates because people in boats go out and net them.

Aquaculture cannot meet demand, so we will face the troubling prospect of having to import fish in a country with one of the world’s largest fishable areas and possibly the strictest fisheries management regimen in the entire world.

Furthermore, by shifting our demand for seafood to other countries, we will be adding fishing pressure to already stressed and poorly managed ecosystems.

Similarly, the live sheep export ban threatens $11.1 billion in trade partnerships with the Middle East while doing nothing for animal welfare.

The demand for sheep will still exist, and the Middle East will simply source it from countries with far lower animal welfare standards than ours.

The loss of this market will push WA sheep farmers to the wall and they face the heartbreaking prospect of being forced to stop doing what they love and do extremely well.

Labor is punishing our farmers and fishers in the name of a global agenda that is aimed at countries that don’t manage their environment well, not us.

We mine, fish, farm and log conscientiously and with the environment top of mind.

But there is no appreciation for the challenges of growing food, no consultation and no collaboration, just heavy-handed policy action that causes harm to our own people and which threatens our global standing as a prolific and dependable supplier of sustainable food.

Anthony Albanese’s government has been captured by radical activists to the point our ability to produce our own food is under threat.

He must reverse his anti-food production agenda, prioritise our primary producers and let them get on with the jobs they have been doing so well for so long.

Our own access to affordable and nutritious food grown to the highest standards  depends on it, and so does the world’s.