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Big Ideas -

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(generated from captions) you needed was a dice, a board

and some friends. I rule!

But as time went on, board

games seem to be left on the

shelf as kids turn to

technology for their fun. Not

so fast. It could be time to

dust off the dice once again.

This school is breathing life

back into the board game all in

the name of education. Students here actually get to

play board games as part of

their lessons. There are a

few games to pick from, like

Quoridor and Abalone. This

one, where the winner is the

first person to get the

astronaut to the oxygen supply.

I used to play on the computer

but I found this much more

interesting. I enjoy just how

you play it and how you can -

like, it is really fun thing to

do. So, if it is all fun for

these girls, then why is the

school giving them time to do

it? As I found out, it takes a

lot of brain power. This game

is called Gobblet and is kind

of like naughts and crosses,

except you can gobble up the

opposition. I'm thinking to

trick her, sort of. I was

thinking maybe I could go all

different directions. Sounds

simple. But it was my move

that cost us the game. Oh no.

I forgot about that, I forgot

you could do that The stop

light method. Stop, think

about your choices and go. I

missed the thinking and just

put them down. Thinking before

you take action is one of a few

skills these students have

learnt. There is also

problem-solving, developing

strategy, using your memory and

being a good sport. And, it

is a good way to improve your

social skills. I think it is

more fun because like when you

are playing computer games, you

have to stare at a screen and

your eyes get tiebd tired

after a while. You can talk to

people and socialise a bit

more. Being good at board games

can lead on to pretty big

things. Nicola, Kelly, Reshma

and Sarah Recently won a big

comp here, so they are heading

over to Portugal to compete

against other board gamers in

schools around the world. I'm

really excited because it is

like a new whole different

culture to here and you get to

see how Europeans live. But

what they hope for the most is

that their next move will bring

them home another one of these.

Don't forget to log on to our

web site and get more

information about any of our

stories. You can send us your

comments and vote in our poll. See you next time. Closed Captions by CSI This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there. Welcome to big Ideas.

the trouble with small farms. On the Show today - Across the Bass Strait richest agricultural land, Tasmania boasts some of Australia's the state's has a big future with the government there spruiking as a food bowl for the nation. are going at it backwards But many of Tassie's small farmers a fair price for what they produce. finding it near impossible to get supermarkets at fault Are the big two multinational supply chain in Australia - for the increasingly taking over the their desire for ever cheaper food? Or are consumers also to blame in Radio National host, Philip Adams team to Burnie took his late night live for farmers to try to find out why the future up market bread basket - supplying Australia's new looks more like a basket case. Welcome beloved listeners to LNL Burnie, in north-west Tasmania. coming to you this evening from up market bread basket - our community forums this year. who turned out for the second of

Burnie Arts and Function Centre. The Arts Theatre of the of small farming. The theme is the future little tiny blocks of land And small farmers tilling feed more than half the world and it can be fairly said a degree of national stability - they consequently maintain and reduce immigration. forced or conflict this occasion is Tasmania. But our focus on small farming on richest farming land in Australia. Northern Tasmania boasts some of the as I drove up today - I was reminded of this stunning. Great for dairy, vegetable growing high-value non-food crops and increasingly also for such as poppies and pyrethrum.

regions of Australia, Now, unlike some other farming

as I drove up today -

by global warming, that are being adversely effected a fair whack of water. Tasmania looks like it will have you've had too much In fact, in the last year or so as a consequence. and crops have suffered the mid-21st century, And as we approach well-placed to benefit Tasmanian farmers should be growing global demand for nosh. from what is surely to be a steadily Tasmania's small farmers, So, why is it that so many of bread basket for Australia, in what is seen as the new are basket cases? and vegetable growing? Particularly in dairy to remain viable? Why such an uphill struggle industries have been in deep crisis. And in recent years, these two Now increasingly our small farmers, not just here but all over Australia, by their lack of market power, are being grounded down the two supermarket giants masticated by the might of and the multi-nationals the supply chain in Australia are increasingly taking over by their lack of market power, what might lie ahead I guess an important warning of McCains was closed came when the Australian plant of and moved off shore. here in northern Tasmania supermarket shelves The brand remains on our who purchase McCains but I guess the majority of people

are now imported. don't realise that the vegetables You know, last year committee on agriculture there was a senate select into food production and it held an inquiry the eccentric, and the committee's chairman - strangely loveable, Bill Heffernan, sometimes wildly erratic, but asked the following question, that is affordable 'how do we produce food that is sustainable from an environment and a farmer that is viable?' of tonight's community forum. And that, I guess, is the theme to the inquiry, I discovered that in evidence in a company called National Foods the boss, or one of the heavy hitters to maintain farmers. said, 'We've got no obligation If farmers make losses, so what?' like, Pura, Dairy Farmers, Berry, This from a company that owns brands YoPlait, King Island, Mercy Valley, Tasmanian Heritage Cheese, Cracker Barrel, Australian Gold, Coon and Farmers Union. I found it all the more compelling as a comment because just the other day, without realising that Dairy Farmers is one of the brands, I had nothing to read when I was slothing milk on to the Rice Bubbles so I was reading the packet. And there was something like, I think there were 20 mentions of Australia. And saying it wasn't simply pasteurised, it was intensely, intensely patriotic. Odd that it's owned by a Japanese multi-national brewing firm.

Now, in about 30 minutes we'll open the discussion to our audience here at the centre patriotic. to come forward to the microphones on either side and to make your points with clarity, but first of all I've got four eagles have landed. Let me introduce them to you. (Baby crying) And because - good evening young person, four eagles have landed. I will introduce them in sequence across the stage. Richard Bovill has been a leading farmer-activist in Tasmania for more than 20 years. Before the show I was joking about his ASIO file. He's a vegetable grower from Devenport, in 2005 he came to national attention and to ASIO's attention, I'm sure, with his 'Fair-Dinky Food' campaign

when he lead a protest rally of 100's of farmers from around Australia in their tractors at Parliament House in Canberra. Then we've got Neil Armstrong. Neil is the co-owner and Managing Director of Tasmanian fresh vegetable company, Harvest Moon, which is clearly an in-joke for someone bearing the name of a famous astronaut. It's based in the Fourth Valley. Neil is a major vegetable farmer who doesn't need to rely on multi-national food processors to get his goods to market on the mainland. He's an authority on what's going on in the marketplace and I'm told he's a hard-headed realist about what Tasmanian farmers need to do to stay viable. Then we discover the Deputy Premier of Tasmania, Bryan Green,

who's been the Labor member for the State seat of Braddon since 1998 which makes him the local member in Burnie and cop this, among his multitude, his plethora of portfolios - I've got to take a deep breath, he's Tasmania's Minister for Primary Industries and Water,

Minister for Energy and Resources, for Planning, for Racing, and Veteran Affairs. I first noticed Bryan a few years ago when he introduced legislation to give Tasmania a breather from the threat or the promise that some people feel of GM - something I'll be talking about later.

Finally, Angelique Abbott is both a vet here in Burnie and she also runs a dairy farm with her husband in the Circular Head region in the far north-west corner of Tassie. Now in 2009 she wrote a very moving submission to that senate committee based on interviews she did with local dairy farmers about the hardships they were facing during a bruising dispute over the prices they were being offered for their milk, more on that shortly. Richard, you're first up, briefly bring us up to speed about the state of farming in Tasmania.

Well, I think Tasmania has a very long heritage in farming. People that live in, particularly in Sydney in the early days, were fed by Tasmanian potatoes.

In fact most of - in the early days agriculture developed in Tasmania to feed Australia, because of our climate, prior to irrigation, this is where you could grow things. And a lot of those farms in their time were seen I think to be of good scale and were viable. When we talk about a small farm, the truth is, a small farm of today was probably a large farm of yesterday and a large farm today will probably a small one in 20 years time. So, we have this, um, creeping conversation about what is viable in any business in Australia and it's not just involved around farming. The fact is much of what we do in agriculture is either for an export market or has to be export competitive. And we are very clearly told in this sector more than probably any other sector in Australia, 'you compete or die.' The fact is we have to compete with all of the regulations that are imposed and required of us to operate in Australia and the standards and the expectations are extremely high. We don't operate in a very low cost base, we have - and our cost base continues to increase all of the time, against our terms of trade, yet we're still being told that we have to compete. Take a deep breath, you've set us up, you've got us rolling, I'd now like Neil to respond - your perspective? On farming today - to see where we are today you've got to go back in time. Um, farms at the turn of the last century, one in four people in Australia worked in producing food. Today it's about 1 in 30 to 1 in 40. It's - that's a huge change. Before the war in the little area of Wilmont there was 250 families, now there's four. And they all lived off the land, very capably. Um, that land's not there now, a lot of it's - plantation forestry has taken over a lot of that land but there's now four viable families - four or five, but it's a very small area now. And that's a change that's happened just in our recent history. With the advent of irrigation productivity has increased exponentially. So, what it used to take a lot of people to produce it takes a lot less now. Coupled with that, over the last 30-40 years agriculture in Australia has had the highest productivity growth of any other industry. Some of the developments are quite amazing.

We're a hi-tech industry and this has been forced on us due to the impost that generally doing business in Australia happens. We are a very high cost producer of agricultural product.

As I understand it you're not the sort of bloke that calls out for more government help. You're a free marketeer.

Very much so. So, you could expend a lot of energy trying to get things changed

or you can go and do things that you can do. We, our company is still, we still export overseas but you pick these products that you're still viable with. It's very hard to compete with a commodity. Also within Australia, Tasmania has got some definite advantages in the summer months and we can produce vegetables for the mainland at a competitive advantage. We do this, it's our quality of season, and so you pick those areas where you can survive.

Angelique you wrote a very - as I said - a moving submission to the senate enquiry about the dairy farms in your region and you got stuck into National Foods. Can you tell us how the farmers were when you went out and interviewed them? Most farmers were in a position where they felt they had been backed into a corner

with dealing with multi-national companies. They were angry at the time, we had a huge price cut in our milk price

and most farmers were told to take it or leave it. And when you didn't have a choice to change milk companies, change farms structures,

we weren't in a position to be able to say - 'No, we don't want that price.' And it was only by standing together that we were able to do something about it. Because at the end of the day, as you mentioned in your opening -

National Foods is owned by a brewery in Japan, a multi-national company, and when you are one farmer standing there and you have someone telling you 'this is the price you're going to get...' I was astonished by the size of the cut, it wasn't subtle. No. It was brutal. Now tell me this, how many farmers were driven out of the business because of this? I understand quite a few were on suicide watch? In Circular Head there were - they weren't necessarily National Foods farmers because all the milk companies, unfortunately, tend to follow suit, so it was not - it was a broader dairy issue in terms of the suicidal watch and the way that the community felt. But most farmers are still farming, but the question of viability comes into it and long-term viability. And the suicide watch is, I think, something that's reduced in time, but at the time it was a true crisis. Angelique - where I live when things are tough on the farms they're tough in the towns Because of the halo effect,

the ripples that come out because they stop retail activity dead, don't they? Yes and I think the effects go on for years and most businesses in Circular Head would feel those effects, we're talking 18 months on now, are still felt in the community. So the money is not there to spend on basic - at the time there wasn't the money there for families to spend on basic living needs and that has continued.

But if we don't have money in farming then certainly the local businesses suffer as well. Now to the Dep Prem. Bryan, this is not the first time the program has looked at Tasmania and farming. We were quite taken with the notion of Tasmania being more than ever, or going back to, it's role as the food bowl. Is that still government policy following Bartlett's departure? Well, yes it is, because we believe that there are great opportunities for Tasmania now and on into the future,

underpinning of course, our strategy with respect to growing more food it's role as the food bowl.

there is the irrigation development that's been talked about already. Irrigation development in Tasmania is in a different context to I guess to what's happening around the rest of Australia. While we've had a lot of rain, certainly down the eastern seaboard of Australia, we've got a program called the National Water Initiative run by the commonwealth that is ensuring that each catchment in Australia, effectively,

has a catchment management plan for the rest of the country. Most of that involves water being taken away from farmers to ensure environmental sustainability in Tasmania.

Each of our irrigation projects has to be coupled with with the National Water Initiative so as to ensure sustainability in that irrigation project

and from our point of view in the state it allows us to supply water now and well on into the future at 95-900% surety. So we do see our ability to produce into the future as very viable. I once had an enemy called Paddy Mcguiness, now gone to God, but he once wrote something in the Fin Review which I agreed with. which I thought was fascinating, that you could justify the support, And he made the point which I agreed with. which I thought was fascinating, looking so beautiful because it kept the landscape to France's tourism. and therefore adds immensely

looking so beautiful because it kept the landscape the tourist industry, is as much a part of as it is of the food industry. or has that potential, no doubt about that. Oh, look, there's from that point of view is unique And Tasmania's landscape of the state is quite stark in that the variation between parts it's hard fought for. and at the same time Neil mentioned a moment ago in Tasmania. the issue of plantation forestry plantation forestry in Tasmania A large part of the debate about

has been about landscape issues - people worried about being turned into trees. the beautiful green paddocks a great reputation on quality. So, look, Tasmania has built food is produced in Tasmania, People understand that high quality So food and where it's grown

of Tourism for the state. is an important part

pointed this out quite often - Richard, overseas, and you've if you want an agricultural sector, there's a greater recognition that to ensure it's viability. you have to have a long term plan including Australia and New Zealand, And that many countries, not have some kind of dairy support plan.

in Australia - during the dairy crisis being driven a lot of it was actually in other countries by the level of subsidy continue to produce milk and the fact that they could with a degree of viability while Tasmanian farmers, efficient in the world, who are supposedly the most were going broke. like Japan, Korea, And you look at countries subsidies of between 30% and 60%, and all through Europe have got

the subsidy is around 20%, and in the USA which is a low-cost producer, in Mexico, the subsidy is around about 40%. on the part of those countries, Now, a lot of that is a recognition as you mentioned, sustainability and viability that we have to have some long term in these industries. and switch them off the next. You can't switch them on one day

A farm is not that kind of business.

It doesn't work like that.

Neil, would you take the view cannot be sustained, that if an agricultural industry without government inputs, allowed to go to the wall? that is should be

that, that will happen. Look, Australia's had this policy you've got to say that. And yes, as a free marketeer

un-level at the moment. But the playing field is very one hand tied behind our back. We are fighting with people in Australia, It's very difficult to even employ for a small farm, to employ labour. expect employers to carry is huge. The impost that our governments

the problem in getting labour In many parts of Australia have all walked off is that the farmers and gone mining. or the labourers walked off labour is hard, Well, the competition for at the moment. mining is a very wealthy competitor But, to put it in perspective, the rate that we pay for labour. our brothers in New Zealand pay half the people over there And it's not that

it's just the impost. are poorer than our employers here, there's no 1% workers compensation, There's no 9% superannuation, there's no payroll tax. employ people here, They encourage you to if you employ somebody here, it's very difficult because, when they're not working, just the red tape you get Centrelink letters. to keep it to, um - It's nearly a full-time job for a smaller farm, which makes it, not worthwhile to employ people. for small business, that this is coming from Burnie, Let me remind you, dear listener, specifically in Tasmania. our discussion about small farming, is being discussed But, of course, much of what has urgent relevance everywhere else. I find annoying Angelique, one of the things that to let farmers go broke. is that consumers seem willing There is this unbelievable demand ever better and ever cheaper, that food be cost of food need to evolve? so do consumer attitudes about the change consumer's attitudes. I think in Australia we need to food in Australia People want the highest quality

to pay for it. but aren't necessarily prepared just spoke about, And just as Richard and Neil in Australia the cost of producing food because we're not subsidised. is higher than overseas need to realise that. So, at some point, I think consumers the bottom line And not just look at buy your vegetables of how much it costs to

buy your milk. or how much it costs to and King Island was a classic case, And yet niche marketers, can get top-end prices. and I can think of a dozen others, industry bottom does it? But niche marketing doesn't solve an (Laughs) No. I mean, the reality is that, Sydney and Melbourne - the vast majority of people in of the population there's around about 20% about what they eat - who are very picky these products are aspirational. and the other thing is that we like to enjoy. They're the things that

in the same experience as food, And you don't necessarily put them family at a cost. food is about feeding your It's not about going to a restaurant

people make choices. it's, you know, as wealth increases, protected better by the ACCC? OK, now Bryan, why aren't we Well, I guess for a long time now, (Laughs) need to stand on our own two feet Australia has taken the view that we the lowest common denominator, and it's not a matter of being best you can for the country, it's about trying the achieve the

be as efficient as you possibly can. And as a government, the appropriate policies what we have to do is try to set and intervene where we can in this case, to make sure agriculture, it can to not only compete is given the best opportunity but produce the quality foods and provide for the investment opportunity that is going to ensure that people are still employed in rural Tasmania and, I guess, rural Australia. I think that from a Tasmanian perspective, we've seen enormous change in recent times. You only have to think back to before the fast food outlet started that potato production was about roast potatoes and mashed potatoes, now it's about french fries and lots and lots of them.

An amazing number, and those commodities are - it's hard areas to compete in, that's not the area Neil's in, but if you want to be in that market,

well then, it's extremely competitive, labour costs and etc come into it, the margins are small, the volumes have to be large. Whereas, there are other opportunities,

where we can compete and earn good money as a result. It suddenly occurs to me that Tasmania has the potential to be a huge niche marketer, because of the legislation you got through on GM. I happen to think 'more haste, less speed, thank you very much'

but, it means that your produce in this state has special appeal to top-end consumers around the world. we've put a lot of effort in Tasmania to ensure that our brand is seen as 'clean and green.' Other people talk about it as well,

to underpin that with sensible policies.

We've done the same in the area of beef production

where we've been hormone-free for a long, long time. The GM decision was a sensible one from Tasmania's perspective from a brand point-of-view, as far as I'm concerned. It's also sensible from the point-of-view of ensuring that the people understand

that the food that comes from Tasmania is not contaminated through genetically modified organisms.

So, sensibly it was a smart thing to do from a marketing point-of-view, but at the same time ensures that people understand

that the quality of Tasmanian food remains intact - But will this legislation remain intact, isn't it subject to renewal or revision? Ruth Forrest is here this evening, she's an MLC -

Member of the Legislative Council here in Tasmania. There was a review in recent times through the parliament of Tasmania

about our decision on GM and it was established that we ought to continue that moratorium and we've decided to that, at least until 2016. And we will review it and make sensible decisions, I mean I know there are other sides of the debate,

with respect to this particular issue but we don't see Tasmania as being - OK, let's move on, 'cause we've got a lot of ground to cover, and we're already getting short of time. And this is the moment where I'd like members of the audience to approach the microphones and prepare their questions, or indeed, their statements. This is LNL, a special community forum, coming to you from Burnie, from the Burnie Arts and Functions Centre in Tasmania.

The future of small farming is the topic.

My guests are the aforementioned Deputy Premier, Bryan Green, Farmer Activist, Richard Bovill, and local vegetable impresario, there's a nice description for you! Impresario, sounds very foreign, Neil Armstrong.

Is that good or bad? (Laughter) While people - Oh, no, I've got someone already, that's good. Let's open it up. Madam, the first question. I'm also deeply interested in the problem of peak oil. Recently, Catalyst had a program exclusively about peak oil and one of the conclusions arising out of that program was that within the next two to three years,

we're going to hit the oil crunch. What the oil crunch is, price in dollars rather than cents, is when oil starts going up in fairly universally held. and that opinion seemed to be in agriculture. Clearly oil is a huge component of peak oil? Do any of you have any knowledge are going to manage peak oil? Do you have any plans for how you Has it had any impact?

I think this is a question by the Deputy Premier. that can only really be fielded innovative ways There are a number of on the use of fuel on a farm that you can ensure you cut down increase efficiency. but at the same time, that we've made in recent times, Part of that decision increase efficiency. but at the same time, to farm in a way - in fact, that will allow farmers Climb out of the tractor and on the rose. and let the satellite direct it up More or less. I can make myself a cup of tea. I love the thought of that and then innovative farmers And we've also got to support their farms. using say, wind generation innovative farmers And we've also got

of Tasmania. here on the north-west coast that on into the future. And I'm sure we'll see a lot more of

obviously, But look, there is an opportunity, their own bio-fuels, for farmers to reduce

that needs to be something that - to a degree, on into the future and producing your own fuel, Neil, you're nodding at this is something you're planning?

never stay the same - Well, look, things 130 years or something. oil's only been around for for some millions. I think it's actually been around (Laughter) in it's current form Our useable oil it turns up opportunities. and look,

90% of their fuel they're using And in Brazil is made out of ethanol. can't get into tonight But that's another problem which we crops for bio-fuel crops and that is the substitution of food

immense catastrophe! Sir, your turn. which looms on the horizon as a on the north-west coast. Warren Moore, I'm a business advisor I'm not quite sure who to aim it at. I've got a question and the small farming sector - In relation to a fair bit of work in, and it's a space that we do time and time again an issue which comes up is the issue of succession planning.

broad figures - And if we look at the sorts of farming at the moment, 50% of people who are

and vegetable, are aged over 50. particularly in dairy to retire within the next 10 years, 50% of those are going to be looking don't have a plan to actually, but there is no plan - 70% of those of their business. how they are going to get out That's my first comment. of the young people coming in, And the second one is that

they are, or our experience is, that they are disinclined the same way that their parents to want to operate in the business

have done. or the previous generation I mean I've been told lots of times, putting cups on cows at 3.30am, 'If I've got to spend 40 years I don't want it.' that we can choose There are other models in the succession planning area but there is no concentrated effort

retire move out of the business either to help people who want to in the business and people to replace them but also have business models into the farm with out doing it - whereby young people can come Richard I'd like you to field this,

the system, isn't it? that is now coming into husbands go off the farm As younger people or wives or to earn at least half the income. Department of Primary Industry It was interesting the Federal about 4 years ago, and something I read said that a viable farm in Australia a job off the farm. was one where the wife had capital intensive. But farming is becoming increasingly that are tied up The value of assets assets is becoming a disincentive. and the minimal return for those

retire on the farm The person that wants to offspring into that farm and bring one of their farm as their retirement income, because potentially they saw their from nothing, so they either walk away or they bring their offspring in with a huge debt. and they saddle them it's almost a sentence these days, And to some degree,

where they are with bank interest rates children onto the farm it becomes a sentence to bring your far less people coming into farming. and I - that is why there are far, I actually like the idea from outside of farming anyway. of continuous new blood coming in I think, I mean if you look at Neil. Neil, didn't come from a farm, he - He came from the moon! He came from the moon (Laughter) he should have been a dairy farmer And it just shows that made of cheese anyway. because we know the moon's (Laughter) (laughter) I'll do the jokes, thank you! the most challenging Look, it's probably one of happening out there, and heart-wrenching things that is a third or fourth generation farm particularly if you have

generation after generation and it's been handed down to you, a third or fourth generation farm particularly if you have that business. because you see the failure of stressed and suicidal - When we talk about people who get that can happen to anybody, it is the most heart wrenching thing failing your heritage. is that you are But the reality is, on the size of farms we are at a point where doubling up

to become efficient. is what we have to do The economics of that, farmers in this room and there are a few young in a season like this, who are straddled with a huge debt that we just cannot even imagine. they are suffering in a way proper answer for this We don't actually have a of money that's required but it is the amount and the increasingly small returns - of any kind of farm, and it gets back to the viability while we've got diminishing returns our capacity that's what is actually stressing to have a new generation of farmers. or wasn't there a change of strategy Angelique wasn't there an attempt, after the National Foods punch up, where farmers started collectivising,

proper answer for this and negotiating collectively? Yes there was. Did it work? Yes it worked for our situation, to form a collective bargaining group

and yes, that helped to resolve some of the issues that we had with National Foods. Would that help get Bryan off his backside?

Yes, think farmers do need to be better organised.

I think we need to start to stand together to actually get some negotiating and bargaining power at times. Would you welcome that, Bryan? Given that I come from a Union background I can understand collective bargaining as an important part of having, you know - the individual has very little power against the multi-nationals, it's true. So, of course, people need to, I guess, support their farmer organisations to give them a strong voice to people like myself. Neil, I think that description of the heartbreak - the process of walking off, getting out, not having kids that want to take up what is a pretty bloody tough life is very touching.

Are you too social Darwinian in your attitudes to support the idea of easing the pain though government grants

to get people out of these situations? Look, this has happened before, it's happened with the dairy industry,

and as a community we paid for that. We paid for that in a levy on milk and I think - So you're happy with this used reasonably? If it can be done without distorting the market place and that's the dangerous thing. We must never distort the market place. Madam - why is that we've got a left and a right microphone and it's only the left microphone that is getting used?

Madam, your turn. G'day I'm Theresa. I'm aware through my work in this region that there seems to be a pretty big surplus of unemployed young people and also there's jobs in the agricultural sector - I was speaking to one of you managers at Harvest Moon and also an organic farm that I know,

and both of them hire a lot of backpackers

and they simply can't find local people

Maybe that's a seasonal thing, I'm not sure, and I'm aware that it is complicated to hire people because of the paper work, like you were saying.

But is there anything being done to get the local guys, like in Burnie and Devonport who I see in the unemployment programs that I work with, out onto the land and working those jobs that they could be working out there? We employ a lot of people and it's seasonal work

and we would love to employ more locals. And we employ every local we can. to fill all our needs, especially on the hard paddock work - the cutting lettuce or the picking broccoli, with local youth - they just don't want to do it. I shouldn't say that - I don't like broccoli much, but -

Either do it. I understand that. But it's very difficult, because - it's wonderful - a big percentage of them do do it and they work very hard, and it's good, but we just can't get enough. Well, that'll get even tougher with our unemployment, nationally, going down a pace. And increased mechanisation takes up some of the slack, doesn't it? Well, the previous question said, people don't want to get up early now and put teats on cows, so -

and part of the problem of that is that they get - (Audience chuckle) (Laughter) Pumps on teats, yeah. have a farming background! You're sure? I can see that you don't I'm not a dairy farmer - (Laughter) machines to do all that, but now, there's robotic milking milking machine, but to have a robotic you've gotta have a large farm capital investment. because there's a huge for the smaller farm And it's sort of self-defeating to be able to continue there. of what Neil said, Look, just in support super efficient we know we've gotta be is extremely casual - and some of this casual work

for a very short period of time. you want a large amount of people

that's been set up in Australia And I think one of the beauties for a very short period of time. you want a large amount of people tourists that come to Australia, where we've got lots of young they want to work, they're very well educated, to work long hours, and they're happy back into our community, and they're injecting that money to work long hours, and they're happy that come into our community - These people are new people they're well educated, that we pay them in this community, they spend all of the money

wants to do. and they do a job that nobody here can get 30 people, just like that. And I can make a phone call and I through the CES. And I can't get that called WWOOFers, There's another group who play a big part on our farm. on Organic Farms. And it stands for Willing Workers of the most marvellous kids And we've had dozens and dozens from South Korea and Germany

you house them, you feed them, and it's great for us, you know, you interact with them.

You don't have to pay them! And they work half a day. and wander around the hills, And the other half, they go out and have a great time. Minister for Everything! Sorry, Minister. point that I think that one area Yeah, I was just gonna make the from benefits to employment is to make the transition back to benefits, and the transition from employment

in seasonal type arrangements, much more streamlined. It's extremely difficult. when they've taken up employment, The waiting period for people, is not easy for them. to get back on to benefits

of sustainability through that - So, there's that question That's a bloody good idea. That is. and I can't, for the life of me, It would make a lot of sense, that process. understand why we can't streamline Good. At last, the right microphone. veterinary surgeon here. Yes, Dr Peter Holm. I'm a local to what Angelique's saying I can well relate in relation to the dairy industry. the number of dairy herds In my own practice in the last ten years. has decreased by 80% the level playing field. We've heard about in the last ten years. has decreased by 80% have declined by 80%. we have the major supermarkets In the meantime, who won't pay their bills in less than 90 days, and if you want paying before the end of the month,

they're going to knock 5% or 10% off. I know the ACCC's looked at it, but I think it's about time they got their glasses on. Would the panel care to comment on that particular problem? The difference between the farmer's gate price

and the price in the aisles of a supermarket is astronomical!

It is. And, of course, wherever there's processing involved beyond the farm gate, there's a cost associated with that, but having said that, it is hard to fathom, at times, the difference between what a farmer's paid, and what we, the consumer has to pay, it's staggering.

As an entrepreneur, do you take them on head on?

I've gotta be careful - they're our biggest customer, so, they're very good people. But they don't listen to this program. The margin between milk's not too high at the moment, so, you know, can you have it both ways? I mean, you just said the margins are high - it's a very competitive situation.

Um, supermarkets generally have cheaper prices than the alternative. Why complain? I mean, you don't have to shop there, but if you shop elsewhere generally you don't get the quality and generally it's at a higher price, without the convenience. Now, it's easier to knock them, but it is a very efficient system. And - Except the trolleys have always got very funny wheels.

That's a problem. They don't put the money back into the trolleys - that's my objection. And can I just make a point about National Foods - but they've just made a significant decision to invest heavily in our heritage brands of cheeses here on the north-west coast, so - We interrupt this program for a commercial!

Yeah. (Laughter) I wouldn't want them to understand that we're not appreciating the fact Yeah. (Laughter) And once the equilibrium comes back, I'm expecting that we'll see great expansion and opportunity in the dairy industry. Can I just - Yes, you can. We have, in Australia, the greatest concentration of power in some of the business in some sectors

than we have in any other Western country in the world. The supermarket chains - That applies to media as well. It's probably true.

And it's been allowed to happen. With that concentration of power comes extreme responsibility. Every now and again some of these companies that have that power don't act responsibly

and they don't think of the impact that their immense power has down the supply chain. That was a case in point with National Foods. I believe that they understand a little better now that the position that they took was damaging their suppliers, and they - So they've learnt from their mistakes?

The people that made the comments in the senate inquiry no longer work for that company. So, there is this transitional change - Angelique, do you want to say something nice about the company? Look, yes, National Foods' attitude has changed, and Richard is right -

the people that were making some of those decisions no longer work for the company

but it's not just going to be a National Foods and dairy suppliers' problem, it is an issue that will come up with other companies. And the question is - how do farmers have a strong position against those companies? Well, before I invite another question, there is another possibility we haven't raised.

We sell most of our produce on the net. And, you know, it's efficient, and it's enjoyable, and more and more people are doing that. Is that not something else that could be done to break the nexus? The reality is, though, as Neil said, the supermarkets don't go out and capture people and drive them through the door,

people walk through the door of the supermarket because over time, they've appreciated that experience. The difference between what's happened in Australia and is the USA and many other countries have determined that a certain concentration of power is not good and they stop it at a certain level. We've not done that in Australia,

and we've created a couple of monsters which I tend to -

they're not bad companies. I mean, the truth is they pay their suppliers as well as any other chain in the world pays their suppliers. But they have an immense responsibility and the risk, as in the case with the milk price war, it can - if they make a wrong decision and the risk, as in the case with the milk price war,

for a lot of people who have no power in the chain becomes critical. And that's where I believe there is a role for the ACCC to - there has to be a mediator. If you give people that much power you have to put a mediator in. Sir, your turn. My name's Trevor Grant, and I've been doing some research on a policy called 'The Protection of Agricultural Land' which has gone right across Tasmania.

Just a remark - if our farmers were given the same sort of subsidies and help as the forestry's given, they wouldn't need to be sitting here tonight, I promise you. This PAL scheme, it's called - the Protection of Agricultural Land, sounds lovely until you put forestry in it. And then forestry started planting trees all over the place and I can't - I haven't eaten a pine cone for a while, I don't want to eat one either. But there is one problem that goes along with it and unless - there's 30,000 titles affected. And unless you've got 50 hectares, you can't build a house on it. They are preventing people from erecting a dwelling. Now, Justice Kirby said, in 1998,

'Certain politicians are trying illegally to change our un-changeable, except by referendum, Federal constitution, because they want to deny people the right to hold private property under our monarchical laws.' Now, um, that's something Justice Kirby said. So, what I need to know from Bryan Green - has our constitution changed or are people still allowed to have the common-law rights

to erect a dwelling on their own piece of land? (Applause) Oh, he's touched a button there. It might be the forestry side of the argument. I'll just make one point about the forestry plantation industry, that harks back a little bit to what people were saying about farmers retiring from farms -

that managed investment schemes in a lot of circumstances allowed a number of farmers in Tasmania to make a decision to actually sell farms, to sell in the past, and they hadn't been able or a bad thing, whether that's a good thing it was extremely important. but for the individual, to be said. So, that's the first thing an important industry to Tasmania. Forestry and the forest industry is That's the second thing to be said.

of Prime Agricultural Land, With respect to the Protection

made by the State Government, yes, it was a policy decision of Parliament, that went through both houses our prime agricultural land to in the first place try to protect from urban sprawl, and at the same time,

for the right to farm, provide opportunities and rural communities, towns, between small farms in Tasmania given the interface

for example, the city of Burnie, and even, in this case, Burnie, our intensive agriculture you know, our agriculture - of the city, effectively. is right up to the boundary So, it's a complex argument. planning reforms now. We're just going through from the principle We're not moving away

that our prime agricultural land that we want to ensure is protected on into to the future and income, so that we can provide opportunity regional Tasmania. particularly, for rural and for people to accept, I know it's been difficult but we tried to make sure in a way that it could be managed. that it came in a policy form differently to others. Some councils have interpreted it I think that the principle But in the main, agricultural land in Tasmania of protection of prime is a sound one. One more question. Sir. Hello, I'm Mark Ferguson. to the issue of home brand milk. I'd just like to go back that home brand milk Currently, it seems at below the cost of production. is being sold the panel think it's reasonable I'm just wondering whether no legislation that there is currently at below the cost of production. to prevent businesses selling that if you're in importer, And I just draw the parallel

to the regulator, and you can prove your case levies imposed on imports then you can get Federal Government production. that are sold below the cost of with domestic products? So, why can't that happen I think it's difficult to ascertain below the cost of production. that it is being sold about this, more than anything else The area that concerns me, is that both Coles and Woolworths,

because they started it, and we should focus on Coles their house brand milk they're selling or very low mark-up. with a very, very low margin, to the house brand milk, If they were being equitable to the Pura milk - to the branded milks - milks at exactly the same margin. then they should be selling those

But because they are so powerful -

of power, and this is the irresponsibility nose at the major milk suppliers, they can actually just snub their sell their milk with no margin, all of the branded milk cut the sales of on the dairy farmer which ultimately impacts make their money, because that's how these companies and if they don't make their money to the dairy farmer - they'll cut the price that's the argument. their milk How is if fair that they can sell at an extended period of time, on common shelf space - I know it's their shelf space the branded companies but they actually ask when Coles and Woolworths to pay for their advertising

their milk themselves, have to pay the advertising of for a much reduced margin. It actually should be the big companies that are complaining, and they can't,

because Coles and Woolworths have got too much control. We've gotta wrap the program, but we will keep going, in our theatre, after we say goodbye to Late Night Live, and we say goodbye to our guests, our panel. Richard Bovill, dangerous subversive. Bryan Green, Deputy Premier of Tasmania, currently Minister for Primary Industries, Water, Energy Resources,

Local Government Planning, Racing,

Angelique Abbott, a vet and a dairy farmer, and Neil Armstrong, the - well, the entrepreneur down here with vegetables, particularly via Harvest Moon. I'd like to thank the audience for coming along on a very cold night

and for contributing so energetically to the program. It's been good to be here, and that's a wrap from Late Night Live. (Applause) Panelists from the Small Farming in Tasmania panel, in Burnie,

speaking there with Radio National's Phillip Adams, for Late Night Live. That's all from Big Ideas for today but for more of the most fertile panels and freshest and juiciest talks around, point your browser in the direction of our website of abundance, at the address on your screen. And look out for more Big Ideas on ABC News24 at 1pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.

I'm Waleed Aly, see you again. (Closed Captions by CSI)

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