The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed commitments by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to improve bush communications and advance regional manufacturing if Labor was to win government.
Mr Albanese addressed a crowd of almost 500 at the NFF National Conference in Canberra today.
NFF President Fiona Simson said at this stage of the parliamentary cycle it was incredibly important to hear from the Opposition on their plan for agriculture and the bush.
“We were delighted to have Mr Albanese address the NFF’s flagship event in person,” Ms Simson said.
Earlier in the day, the NFF launched its 2022 Federal Election platform. Titled ‘Time To Thrive’, the manifesto outlines five key priorities designed to propel agriculture’s growth trajectory.
Ms Simson said both parties seeking to hold office must commit to deliverying on the Time To Thrive asks.
Among NFF’s election priorities is a call for significant investment in regional telecommunications.
“The NFF welcomed Mr Albanese’s commitment for Labor to establish a Better Connectivity for Rural and Regional Australia Plan, including for expanded mobile coverage and placed-based connectivity programs to support connectivity solutions in regional and remote Australia. These build on recent commitments to support investments to expand the NBN fixed-wireless network.
“Additional funding for the Regional Tech Hub and $30 million for on-farm connectivity are also very welcome announcements.
“We’re encouraged by the Mr Albanese’s commitment to undertake a national audit of mobile coverage to identify mobile coverage gaps and prioritise investment.
“We look forward to further details on Labor’s investment plan to help improve regional communications,” Ms Simson said.
The Opposition Leader committed to directing $500 million from the National Reconstruction Fund to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and fibre.
The Fund provides loans, equity and guarantees to investors establishing new businesses or those recovering from the challenges of the pandemic.
“I am heartened by Mr Albanese’s support for the NFF’s call for a renaissance of regional manufacturing, utilising renewable energy, and our shared vision to make more things in regional Australia using the food and fibre grown there.
“Labor’s announcement today is a step in the right direction but many more millions of dollars is needed for the true potential of our regions to be realised.”
Ms Simson said the NFF was looking for a commitment from Federal Labor to continue to advance the much coveted Ag Visa.
“The Ag Visa is a key piece of the jigsaw to address the workforce shortages constraining agriculture’s growth, complementing initiatives to grow our domestic workforce.
“Farmers anticipate a rock solid guarantee from Labor to progress the Ag Visa. Unfortunately this guarantee was not forthcoming today. We look forward to Mr Albanese’s offer to work with the NFF to fix farmers’ worker crisis,” Ms Simson said.