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Food prices to soar under Rudd made pressure.

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The Hon John Cobb MP Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Water Security

The Shadow Minister for Water Security, John Cobb said after only nine months in office Prime Minister Rudd has already conceded defeat and has claimed there is nothing he can do about escalating food prices - despite promising cheaper groceries and fuel before the last election.

Mr Cobb said if Kevin Rudd was serious about cheaper grocery bills he would be helping agriculture not destroying it and the communities agriculture supports.

“Under the Rudd Government’s current policies when the drought finally breaks, MDB communities will go from a climatic drought straight in to a Rudd made drought,” he said.

“Earlier this month ACCC Grocery Report highlights the major impact the drought is having on food prices, yet the Rudd Government’s water and agricultural policies are placing additional pressure on farmers and food prices.

Mr Cobb said it had been reported today the Rudd Government will be taking some of the most productive country in western NSW and South West Queensland out of production and turning it into National Parks.

“There is no need for the Federal Government to buy the property in order to buy the water. The land and water is separated in NSW.

Mr Cobb has warned all farmers to be careful what they wish for following reports the Rudd Government was considering buying the iconic NSW Western Division property Toorale station to strip its water entitlements and turn it into a National Park.

“Once the Labor Party starts buying productive land on the scale that they are talking about, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from buying grazing land, or dry land farming country to solve any perceived environmental problem.

“Toorale Station is a 91,384 hectare property which has a 14,100 megalitre licence with 2,064 hectares developed for irrigation. The other 89,000 hectares is used as a major sheep, wool and cattle producing property with a carrying capacity of around 40,000 sheep.

“If this property is turned into a National Park the Bourke Shire Council will have no choice but to increase rates and jobs will be put at risk in the hardest drought hit council in the country.

Mr Cobb said the Federal Government had $400 million to buy water from the Darling River and its tributaries.

“The Federal Government should only buy the properties if they then on-sell the properties bare of their water entitlements as an on-going grazing or dry land farming concern.

“Agriculture and irrigation will become increasingly important as climate change begins to bite and it is vital that the Rudd Government puts the nation’s food security at the top of its priority list,”

“We are still facing a global food shortage which has seen riots, strikes and protests around the world as the cost of basic food items soar.

Mr Cobb said under the Rudd Government’s current policies already spiralling food prices will only get higher.