Queensland Election

The Queensland State Election will be held on Saturday 25 November 2017.

As the peak advocacy group for the majority of the state’s farmers, QFF has identified 10 major areas of policy action needed to realise our vision for a vibrant and thriving agricultural sector providing food, fibre and amenity to all Queenslanders.

Importance of agriculture to Queensland

Ag in QLD_WEB

QFF's Vision for Intensive agriculture in Queensland

“A vibrant and thriving agricultural sector providing food, fibre and amenity to all Queenslanders.”

This vision will only be achieved by capitalising on the opportunities in front of us and will not happen by accident – it will require deliberate and strategic action. The right policy settings and effective collaboration between industry, government and community are required to unleash the sector’s full potential.

Reigniting productivity growth rates, which have been below other comparable nations for 20 years, is central to achieving this vision. Productivity growth in agriculture reflects increases in the efficiency of production processes over time, is a key determinant of farm profitability, and is important for maintaining international competitiveness. The prices we get in domestic and overseas markets are largely determined by things we can’t do much about, so we must focus on the only thing we have control over in the long term – how productive we are.

For some time, QFF has advocated for a more inclusive ministerial forum to discuss agricultural issues as many are multi-dimensional and cross-portfolio. A returning or incoming government must formalise this arrangement and address the policy issues raised below.

Summary of policy actions needed

  • Electricity
    • Set the prices for Queensland networks at efficient levels. The Queensland Government must direct EQ to optimise network assets and set prices at efficient levels, at least 40% below existing levels.
    • Remove hidden taxes – the Queensland Government must not subject its government owned natural monopolies to competitive neutrality payments.
    • Remove the solar bonus from a network charge – instead ensure that this is a cost under consolidated revenues.
    • Introduce the five-minute settlement period, with this change being phased in over three years to allow generators to adjust.
    • Comprehensive reform program for electricity network tariffs and enabling metering. The economic deployment of advanced metering will be necessary to achieve the full benefits of network tariff reform for customers; and grandfathering arrangements for irrigators currently utilising T62, 65 and 66.

    See QFF’s media release: ‘Electrical & electoral prices too high’ HERE & ‘Election offers energy spark, but more still needed’ HERE.

  • Water
    • Develop a regulatory mechanism to facilitate future access to reserves in existing Water Plans which have set strategic water for future planning projects.
    • Facilitate temporary water trading.
    • Commit to affordable bulk water prices for SunWater and SEQWater schemes and provision funding for QFF to contract specialists to ensure irrigated agriculture can meaningfully respond to the pending pricing investigations.
    • Commit to greater protection for irrigation infrastructure – government has made significant investments in several schemes where future viability is being eroded by pricing and nonagricultural land development within these catchments.
    • Commit to machinery of government change to align agricultural water within the agriculture portfolio to deliver better policy development and outcomes, control and governance of agricultural water.

    See QFF media release ‘Affordable and sustainable water key to prosperous agricultural sector’ HERE

  • RD&E- Water/Energy/Productivity Nexus
    • Commit $750,000 over 12 months to properly investigate the ‘nexus’ issue. This work would examine the water/ energy/productivity relationships and the implications of not addressing this key issue for irrigated agriculture.
    • Commit $36 million over 3 years to an integrated industry program that addresses the research findings and targets energy and water efficiencies along with productivity outcomes.
  • Jobs, Skills and Productivity
    • Commit $2 million over 3 years to establish a Workforce Planning Team in QFF to ensure the sector can meet the workforce challenges ahead and continue to coordinate and deliver important projects that are benefitting the whole sector.
    • Maintain funding for existing workforce programs.
    • Fund skill sets relevant to industry requirements.
    • Increase RD&E investment to realise productivity gains, ($1 of R&D investment provides $10.15 economic return) and build knowledge across sector to enable further innovation.

    See QFF media release ‘A strong and thriving agricultural sector delivers Queensland jobs’ HERE

  • Biosecurity and Trade
    • Provision of investment to fully implement biosecurity reviews and strategies.
    • Initiate an annual biosecurity stocktake.
    • Commit to matching industry biosecurity investment.
    • Build biosecurity capacity – additional funding must be allocated to increase diagnostic capacity, close biosecurity knowledge gaps and boost response capability.
    • Commit $200,000 over 12 months to develop co-regulatory pilot projects that empower industry and result in better biosecurity outcomes.
  • Protecting agricultural land
    • Simplify the planning framework to provide greater protections for prime agricultural land and enable the sector to capitalise on future opportunities.
    • Support industry developed guideline for large-scale solar projects (underway), and commit to developing a State Code.
    • Enforce immediate and universal adoption of the rating systems guideline by local governments.
    • Enforce local government budget transparency.
    • Commit $1 million over 3 years to enable intensive agriculture to adequately liaise and negotiate with the on-shore unconventional gas sector and other extractive resource industries.

    See QFF media release ‘Prime agricultural land offers prime potential’ HERE

  • Risk management and climate variability
    • Commit $500,000 over 3 years to develop a farmer-owned data repository of farm level production data. This process would also provide an important extension function to educate agricultural industries on insurance and the use of insurance as a risk management tool, which is critical to improve farmer buy-in and assist market penetration.
    • Abolish stamp duty on agricultural insurance – Victoria and NSW abolished it in 2017.
    • Invest in installation of BoM weather stations across the prime agricultural areas of Queensland.
    • Commit to providing funding to implement the climate change recommendations from the review of the sector.
    • Develop a readymade industry recovery project that can deploy industry officers immediately after a natural disaster to quicken recovery.

    See QFF media release ‘Farmers call for overhaul of natural disaster support and funding’ HERE

  • Connection infrastructure
    • Long term commitment of $15 million per year for mobile black spot funding.
    • Provide collaborative leadership to realise equitable, reliable and affordable telecommunications services for farmers and people living in regional/rural Queensland.
    • Recognise the role of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).
    • Commit to improving access to state and local government controlled roads.
    • Commit to strategic, long term investment in road and rail upgrades to lower freight costs for farm businesses.
  • Great Barrier Reef
    • Continue investment at or above current levels in voluntary industry-led FMS/BMP programs.
    • Adopt a long term strategic funding model commensurate with water quality targets.
    • Do not introduce increased regulation in the Reef catchment.
    • Expand the sources of information that informs the Reef Report Card.

    See QFF media release ‘Farming alongside the Great Barrier Reef has a strong future’ HERE

  • Vegetation Management
    • Conduct an independent review of Queensland’s vegetation management framework, with recommendations observed by government, to deliver a sensible, sustainable, long-term vegetation management system for Queensland.
    • Enable responsible growth and shifts in the agricultural footprint to realise better environmental outcomes through workable provisions for high value and irrigated high value agricultural land.

    See QFF media release ‘Farmers still waiting for a sensible approach to vegetation management’ HERE

QFF State Election Policy Platform Summary
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