In the lead up to voting this weekend, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) has launched a policy voting guide comparing the three major political parties based on five key policy areas – regional growth, environmental sustainability, digital connectivity, access to foreign labour and competition law reform – as a way to help voters make a more informed choice in the lead up to the upcoming election.
“The NFF consulted with farmers, industry and regional voters about what they require from our next Government. The resulting Time to Thrive election platform provides a clear pathway forward, offering solutions to workforce shortages; agriculture’s intersection with climate change; biosecurity funding; connectivity; regional growth; unfair competition laws and more,” said NFF President Fiona Simson.
While the coalition’s lack of commitment to date around climate change has frustrated many long-term liberal voters in regional and rural areas, Simon Birmingham’s recent indication that the instant asset write-off will end in 2023 has perhaps come as the nail in the coffin for some.
While labour has agreed to support existing legislated tax measures, they perform poorly in their approach to securing seasonal labour, proposing that only workers from pacific nations be eligible for a visa, despite agreeing to foot the bill for the majority of expenses relating to workers’ upfront travel costs.
“Early in the campaign, Labor put the brakes on a solution to farmers’ workforce woes by all but scrapping the NFF-led Ag Visa. The Coalition continues to support the Ag Visa which they made a reality last September after six years of advocacy by the NFF. The Greens also back the Visa,” she added.
Ms Simson was also highly critical of Labor’s intention to end live sheep exports.
“It shows that on this issue, Labor continues to bow to pressure from radical extremists and is prepared to ignore significantly improved animal welfare outcomes and the detrimental impact the decision would have on farmers and communities”.
While both major parties have comprehensive climate plans, Ms Simson noted that more work needs to be done to “better understand the challenges and opportunities for agriculture” and a more sophisticated approach to carbon accounting.
“The NFF also welcomes a commitment from the Coalition to changing the tax treatment for new commodities, such as carbon and biodiversity, a move that should be adopted by all parties.”
The Rise of Teal Independents
Offering an alternative to the major parties, momentum among so-called teal independents could dislodge liberal incumbents from traditional safe seats.
Largely targeting frustrated liberal voters, teal independents are all partially funded by Climate 200 and are campaigning for urgent action on climate change, honesty in politics and gender equity.
Most represent largely urban or peri-urban electorates, but the rising popularity of teal independents could result in a hung parliament and therefore strike a deal with the winning party to form a minority government.
While independent Rebekah Sharkie has openly stated that she would reach out to the coalition rather than labour, most of her counterparts are reserving their strategy until after the votes are counted.