National Farmers' Federation

NFF slams cotton export ban motion, saying 'what next?'

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has expressed its extreme disappointment at last week’s ‘look at me’ politics where at least four motions were moved in relation to the Murray Darling Basin, including by South Australian Senators Patrick, Hanson-Young and Storer.
Today, the idiocy continues with Centre Alliance MP Rebecca Sharkie moving the same foolish ‘ban cotton exports’ motion her colleague Senator Patrick did last week.
“This is an unprecedented attack on a free market economy,” President Fiona Simson said.
“Irrigators have a choice in how they use their entitlement and allocation and what they are doing is entirely legal.
“For Centre Alliance to seek to make it illegal by removing its market access beggars belief.”
Ms Simson said a ban on cotton exports would represent the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ for agriculture.
“Which commodity will come into focus next – wool, beef, wheat?”
Ms Simson said the move threatened to compromise valuable existing trade agreements and to put Australia in possible breach of international trade rules.
“The stunts need to be seen for what they are: cheap, profile-raising politics in the lead up to the federal election.
“Ms Sharkie is up for re-election in South Australia. The Australian Greens have two-thirds of their nine Senators up for re-election, including Senator Hanson-Young from South Australia. Independent Senator Storer is also up for re-election, and is from South Australia.”
Ms Simson said calls for the full implementation of the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin were premature given the principal concern was the legal consistency of the Plan with the Water Act.
“Until this is resolved other recommendations are difficult to progress.”
The NFF continues to support the implementation of the Basin Plan for the following reasons:
• The Plan is just over halfway through its implementation phase, and has already acquired more than 2000GL of water for the environment;
• the Plan is a compromise that does not meet anyone’s needs entirely, but as a compromise, it should be delivered;
• the Plan has been subject to 14 independent reviews in its seven year life, it does not need more reviews – it needs progression;
• the Productivity Commission just released the comprehensive five-yearly review of the implementation of the Plan. This report contains substantial recommendations to improve the Plan’s implementation. These recommendations are the blueprint for reform that should be followed; and
• after over a century of trying, a final agreement on the management of the basin for environmental, social and economic needs in a balanced way. It should be implemented without further interference.
Ms Simson said about 90% of cotton growers and 80% of cotton production is delivered by family farm businesses. More than 40% of Australia’s food production is grown in the Basin.
“The NFF continues to be concerned about the mental health of farmers already under pressure from drought and other factors.
“Those that are seeking to apply additional pressure by seeking to remove market access should be cautious about the impacts of such assertions.
“The Murray-Darling Basin is a critical component of Australia’s environmental and economic health. Maintaining these while ensuring the sustainability of rural communities is paramount.
“The devastating fish deaths are subject to at least two different inquiries, we should await all of that advice,” Ms Simson said.

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