Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
ACCC grocery report highlights food security and water.

Download PDFDownload PDF


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

The 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.

“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,” Shadow Minister for Water Security, John Cobb said.

Mr Cobb said the Rudd Government’s botched $50 million water buy-back was about to be repeated with yesterday’s announcement that it will be purchasing $350 million worth of water entitlements in Queensland.

“The Rudd Government’s plans for a tender for Queensland water will be a disaster,” Mr Cobb predicted.

“The Rudd Government has no idea about how it will buy the water entitlements which are attached to land.

“The Rudd Government will have to buy up huge tracks of prime agricultural land to obtain the water, and compensate farmers for on farm storage infrastructure, which in turn will further drive up the price of food.

“Australians are already facing escalating food prices because of the ridiculous decision by the Labor Party to take 110 billion litres out the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) via a pipeline to Melbourne.

“This decision makes a complete mockery of the Labor Party’s claim it is trying to fix the environmental issues facing the MDB.

“This massive diversion of precious MDB water, at a time when lower lakes at the Murray mouth are dying will be more than the Rudd Government can ever hope to purchase in Queensland.

“Australian farmers could produce enough food to feed 6 million people a year with 110 billion litres of water

Mr Cobb said other recent decisions by the Rudd Government will also have a major negative impact on agricultural food production and will have impact the household budget.

“The decision by the Rudd Government to slash the CSIRO’s budget is a national disgrace and the closure of a number of important agriculture and food production laboratories and research programs must be reversed immediately.

“And the Rudd Government’s failure to offer any certainty on the future of the drought exceptional circumstances program which is set to expire in some areas in September and the failure to tackle rising agricultural input costs such as diesel,

fertiliser, herbicides and pesticides is placing an enormous strain on the ability of farmers to continue to produce cheap, high quality clean and environmental productive food,” he said.

“After only nine months in office Prime Minister Rudd has conceded defeat and says 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 with a couple of stupid policies and a do nothing attitude.

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

Mr Cobb said under the Labor Party already spiralling food prices will only get higher.