OPINION: Blair must be bold

OPINION

By Fiona Simson

LAST week NSW Farmers welcomed the new Baird-Grant ministry as the final jigsaw piece in this year’s state election.

Elections are important events when the public decide on what policy they believe should be implemented by government.

The process, however, of achieving good policy outcomes for agriculture in NSW is one that is ongoing.

While a good start, the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Liberals and Nationals remains just that.

The detail of how the government’s big vision for how our industry is best primed to lead growth in rural NSW and
continue to be a strong pillar of the state’s economy is an ongoing work that will require constructive dialogue.

To this end, NSW Farmers welcomes Niall Blair to his role as the Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water.

Throughout the past four years NSW Farmers has enjoyed a frank relationship with Mr Blair in both his role in the Legislative Council and in his former role as the chairman of the NSW Nationals.

Continuing drought in the North West of the state means Mr Blair’s attention needs to be not only turned to promised preparedness and recovery measures, but also how to deal with the immediate needs of farming businesses and those reliant communities.

With draft legislation already sitting on the table, Mr Blair will need to promptly engage with industry to ensure a modern biosecurity framework will protect the natural advantage held by farmers in NSW.

With export opportunities for horticulture dependent on state government participation, this is crucial to gaining the benefit of trade deals brokered by the federal government.

The important role played by extension in driving productivity must be forefront in the new Minister’s mind as he considers how best to drive agriculture’s ability to grow its contribution to the NSW economy.

Lastly, agriculture needs Mr Blair to be a champion in the many areas government impacts on our farmers.

He needs to stand up to ensure important reforms planned by the government to native vegetation laws, and continued balancing of planning laws to ensure agriculture is not crowded out by the mining and gas industries or urban growth.

He needs to articulate the infrastructure needs of our industry to not only ensure allocated money is spent well, but that where needed, additional investment is made.

NSW Farmers View
Published in The Land 9 April 2015

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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