The Australian Greens say they are shocked that the Federal Government's Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper doesn't address climate change, one of the biggest threats posed to the future of Australia's agriculture and rural communities.
"The Federal Government and Minister Joyce have their heads in the sand when it comes to the realities of Australia's warming and drying climate. While the paper considers many important issues, it seems more like a grab bag of topics and the Government's pet projects" Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.
"The Government cannot claim that its agricultural policy is 'driven by one key objective: to achieve a better return at the farm gate to ensure a sustainable and competitive Australian agriculture sector', but at the same time ignore climate change and the role it plays in drought and extreme weather events. Ignoring climate change ignores the elephant in the room for agriculture.
"The Greens strongly support a sustainable, long term agricultural sector. This is vital for keeping our regional communities strong, for our economy and for our food security in the years ahead.
"Effective action to reduce climate change, measures to help the sector prepare for a drying climate, research, development and extension, increased investment in NRM and the use of renewable energy in agriculture should all form key planks of the Government's efforts to ensure this sector remains strong in the years to come and ensuring that the volume and quality of produce remains high, delivering strong returns at the farm gate.
"The Abbott Government's cuts in areas such as Landcare and NRM, biosecurity and their endless attack on effective climate action will ultimately undermine the agricultural sector.
"I am concerned by a focus on dams, while other options to address the water security are overlooked. We know that the impact of dams and water infrastructure projects can be significant, especially compared to smaller scale, smarter developments that are more sustainable and better match the reality of our drying climate.
"Sections of the paper read as wish list of measures such as weakening environmental protection and Government trumpeting things like the Green Army and infrastructure measures.
"A genuine, holistic approach to protecting Australia's agriculture must be taken by the Government, not one that focuses solely on their own predetermined policy objectives," said Senator Siewert.
Greens water spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said "Time and again we have seen governments invest large amounts of public money in water infrastructure that serves vested interests. Dams are not the solution to maintaining and protecting Australia's future water needs."
Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said "The Green Paper's coal seam gas principles about landholder rights and water protection were worthless without legislation to back them up."
"The Government cannot continue to ignore the realities facing Australia's agricultural communities," Senator Siewert said.