An Open Letter to the Governments of Australia
Pauline Hanson and I toured droughted Australia inter alia to pressure the Fed Govt and its Minister for Drought into providing a drought package.
By the fourth day of our tour, and with large crowds attending our meetings, the Govt announced an improved package - it was still not a drought package.
Alan Jones was dead right in saying it's about preserving the cattle herd and the herders. This package doesn't.
The beef herd was 33m in the pre-1980s. By 2017 it had fallen to 25m. Our sheep herd was 173m before Paul Keating deregulated wool. Now it is just 69m.
Our meetings made 3 assertions:-
1. Debt is killing us;
2. The Qld Govt is killing us; and
3. Farmers are in deep trouble.
The Fed Govt's drought policy:-
a. Gives responsibility for fodder and transportation to the Qld and NSW Govts;
b. The provision of low interest loans (to be administered by Qld and NSW Govts);
There is no policy for retiring or reconstructing the farmers "existing" debt. Without this the policy is simply "more debt" (albeit at low interest rates);
c. Farm household assistance grants- If your farm income does not meet welfare entitlements the Govt tops it up with 'assistance grants' to a full welfare entitlement.
This is not an LNP drought initiative. This is an ongoing welfare program around ten years. It was the initiative of Far Nth Qld's Rural Action Council secured through KAP Pres Rowell Walton at the Canberra Debt Summit from Treasurer Wayne Swan.
The Fed Govt is to be praised for extending the grants from 2 to 4 years. However the Qld Govt (save the planet) has banned any provision of the 61 million acres of mulga for dying cattle (or roos or koalas);
The Qld Govt (save the planet) has removed almost all cattle and sheep from nearly 1m acres of S.W.Qld. It is now reserved for carbon credits;
The Qld Govt (save the planet) has effectively banned all roo harvesting by issuing protection orders on the Eastern Greys.
The Fed. Govt. decision to make Qld responsible for drought rescue is like making the Japanese responsible for the liferafts at Pearl Harbor. This must happen:-
1. A new Govt. Reconstruction Bank to borrow and loan money. Govt borrows at around 1.2% and can loan at 1.2%. It must purchase at a discount farmers debt. A farmer owes his bank $1m and pays interest, bank charges, valuations - maybe - $54,000 a year. He transfers his loan to the Recon Bank which is buying "at risk" debt and demands a discount (say 15%). His commitments are now to the Recon Bank and no longer $54,000 a yr. but only $13,000 a yr. His debt now not $1m but only $850,000. (Cost - Nil)
2. Declare the 61m acres of mulga accessible for fodder. Mulga when tree lopped (pruned) coppices and/or regenerates as seedlings. (Cost - Nil)
3. CDEP - "Work for the Dole" in drought affected areas and topped up to an industrial award - providing income, jobs to farmers, and employees for business and the unemployed. (Cost est. - $40m/yr.)
4. Fodder subsidies are a necessity to preserve the cattle herd - a major national income earning asset (Cost est. - $80m/yr.)
5. Administration of all these measures by Local Govts not State Govts. (Cost est. - at most 0.1% of the loans)
6. Roo harvesting restored. Roo pop. is millions more than before settlement and needs constant culling. (Cost - Nil)
All three LNP Members and the Senator in the drought areas responded to the "farmers being in deep trouble" by advocating "exit packages". The farmers are in deep trouble - the LNP solution - get rid of the farmers. This is also the response of the "Central Exec" of the NFF. This is not the response Pauline Hanson's One Nation, or Bob Katter's KAP.
My forebears all dreamed of Australia as a Great Nation. That dream will not be dying whilst I'm alive. Mr. Government take notice.