National Farmers' Federation

Agriculture leaders answer tough questions at first campaign debate

The National Farmers Federation co-hosted the first leaders debate of the federal election campaign with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Opposition Agriculture Spokesperson Julie Collins in Canberra today.

The debate was held at the National Press Club, supported by the National Rural Press Club and televised by the ABC.

NFF President Fiona Simson opened the the debate outlining the NFF’s 5 key election priorities focused on regional development; rewarding farmers for their environmental stewardship; better regional communications; farm workforce solutions and improved competition laws.

“The importance of this election for agriculture can’t be overstated,” Ms Simson said.

“With agriculture on a trajectory of growth and so many Australians making the move to the bush, we need Government to help continue this momentum with smart, strategic investment and policy. It’s agriculture and regional Australia’s time to thrive.”

Minister Littleproud and Ms Collins were given six minutes to outline why they should be the Agriculture Minister in the 47th Australian Parliament.

Moderator, National Rural Press Club President and ABC regional and rural affairs reporter Lucy Barbour facilitated the debate.

Ms Simson said the event was a valuable opportunity to test the leaders on their party’s position on key issues including progressing the Ag Visa; a long-term sustainable source of funding for biosecurity; the future of livestock exports; water management and competition law reform.

“It was great to have Minister Littleproud and Ms Collins speak to a national audience about their party’s commitment to agriculture and where they stand on the NFF’s election priorities.”

Ms Simson said the NFF acknowledged Minister Littleproud’s announcement of the Coalition’s intention to establish a $75 million Future Farmer Guarantee Scheme to assist the next generation of farmers to access the finance they need to get a start.

“We look forward to seeing more detail on this initiative which we understand is designed to replace the failed Agristarter Loan.

“The NFF notes Ms Collin’s commitment for more detail from Labor on biosecurity and a solution to address the sector’s workforce shortages. We hope farmers can expect to see this detail sooner rather than later.

“Unfortunately, Ms Collins could still not yet provide an assurance that Labor would support the Ag Visa if they were to win Government.”

The NFF has written to all major parties for their response to the priorities outlined in its Time to Thrive election platform. These responses will be published in NFF’s Policy Voting Guide well before polling day. Sign up to receive the Policy Voting Guide at www.TimeToThrive.com.au

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