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After five years, Labor wants to talk about talking about agriculture with a green paper

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After five years, Labor wants to talk about talking about agriculture with a green paper 18-July-2012 John Cobb MP - The Gillard Government’s announcement today of discussions about a green paper for a white paper for a national food plan is welcome news, given it’s the first time Labor has shown interest in formulating policy for the future of Australian agriculture, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security John Cobb said today.

“It’s hard to get excited about a Government announcement that’s simply to talk about talking about agriculture and food security,” Mr Cobb said.

“This is a Labor Government that went to the last election with no policies on agriculture or food security, and after five years in power, all they can announce is that they want to have discussions to put into a green paper to go into a white paper to help formulate policy.

“I note the Minister has indicated he wants to know ‘whether the best way to boost Australia’s agricultural productivity is by increasing rural R&D investment’,” Mr Cobb said.

“That’s a positive step from a Government that wanted to slash the Government’s contribution to research and development by 50% in last year’s Budget.

“The Coalition has long held a commitment to increasing investment in research and development in agriculture - we don’t need weeks of community consultation to work that out.

“If the Government wanted to ‘enter overseas markets and create closer trade ties by expanding our network of overseas agricultural representatives’, it should resist insulting our biggest and most important neighbour with knee-jerk reactions like the banning of the live export trade, and start repairing relations with these nations.

“Labor should invest in the Australian irrigation industry, instead of buying it, and cancel the Carbon Tax which will wreak more havoc than the 10 year drought,” Mr Cobb said.

In a speech to the Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology’s 45th Annual Convention in Adelaide today, Mr Cobb said the major threat to food security in Australia lies in not enough investment in R&D in bio-security, and in quarantine.

“I suppose we should be thankful Labor is belatedly wanting to talk about Australian agriculture, but we would be much more impressed if they were committing to agriculture rather than talking about it.”