Excising the FF from DAFF

To rub salt into the wound, neither fisheries nor forestry were included in the Ag White Paper

WHERE do the fisheries and forestry sectors sit in the priorities list of the Abbott government? Having been dropped from the Agriculture portfolio title, they are not feeling much love. Still, they remain the responsibility of the Agriculture Minister and should not be treated as the poorer cousins of agriculture.

They are important areas of the Australian economy, yet Barnaby Joyce dares not speak their name. To rub salt into the wound, neither fisheries nor forestry were included in the Agriculture White Paper process.

The Australian Forest Products Association wasn’t hiding its concern over the White Paper omission when it said: “Our forest, wood and paper product industries are closely related to agricultural industries. Yet, surprisingly, the Agricultural Competiveness Terms of Reference stated that ‘the White Paper will not consider industry competitiveness issues associated with the fisheries and forestry sectors’”.

Fishing industry groups responded differently, they reluctantly accepted the Abbott government’s message and have not participated.

“Where are the strategic plans for these two important sectors?”

Seafood is a multi-billion dollar industry for Australia. It is our fifth largest food producing industry, worth more than $2.2 billion to our economy every year. The sector earns $1.2 billion in foreign exchange annually. Forestry and wood products is another substantial industry – earning around $2 billion in foreign exchange each year, employing 61,000 people and producing $20 billion worth of manufactured products.

But where do they fit into the Abbott government’s thinking? Where are the strategic plans for these two important sectors? Isn’t seafood food, and shouldn’t it be part of our “Dining Boom” aspirations? Won’t demand for carbon-storing wood products in Asia produce a “Fibre Boom”?

Neither the “Dining Boom” nor the “Fibre Boom” will come to us; the benefits will not be handed to us on a platter. In this increasingly open and competitive world, we will have to work for their bounty. The private sector will do most of the heavy lifting, but ultimate success will require strategic planning and guidance from government.

There is no forestry or forest products plan. That’s despite the fact that we are not only failing to meet our full export potential, but indeed we are becoming increasingly import-dependent. Two wonderful recently constructed timber buildings in Melbourne’s Docklands, were constructed entirely from imported wood.

Australia last had a plan to address our wood supply problem in 1997. Plantations for Australia: The 2020 Vision was a fair effort. But sadly it lost momentum with the failure of the Managed Investment Schemes and has not met its objectives.

While the Abbott government fiddles, cuts research and development funding, and continues to import shiploads of timber, other countries including New Zealand are working towards the next generation of opportunities – in cross laminated timber, wood-to-plastics and biofuels.

In fisheries, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation is doing good work in areas like productivity, certification, stocks, and the environment. The Korea and Japan free trade agreements accommodated seafood - and let’s hope for good news on China. But no one in the Abbott government is talking about a strategic plan for the sector.

Try this: Google “Barnaby Joyce seafood”, or for that matter, “Barnaby Joyce forests”. Now try: “Barnaby Joyce beef”. See what I mean? I rest my case.

Our meat, grains, dairy, horticulture and viticulture products are all of critical importance to the Australian economy. But so too are the fisheries and forestry sectors, it’s time they received a bit more love.

Joel Fitzgibbon

Joel Fitzgibbon

is Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry & Rural Affairs and the MP for Hunter
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Rylstone Sceptic
17/11/2014 6:41:35 AM

Where did Labor make progress on fisheries and forestry in the past 6 years? So what is your solution, what is your "alternative plan". Give us an alternative vision that is viable in two industries beset by environmental and market challenges. As to beef well if we had it the ALP way we would have limited beef exports. Imported wood, imported cars, imported seafood is most everywhere, its hardly an argument! Google "Successful ALP agriculture outcomes" and I rest my case. As far as I am concerned there is no "us" in my farming enterprise, the reality is farmers do ALL the heavy lifting!
angry australian
17/11/2014 6:50:22 AM

Joel neither the Coalition nor your mob have done fisheries well, more precisely it's a disgrace.According to some in the industry,since AFMA was formed in 92 some 10k of mainly rural jobs have been destroyed,100's of $millions of taxpayer funds burnt and we are in the ridiculous situation where we have more public servants and consultants managing fisheries than we have licensees.In most of the fisheries there have been no new boats built since the early 90's. The SE trawl for eg has gone from $100m in 92 to less than $40m last year, how is an industry supposed to survive on that?
angry australian
17/11/2014 7:13:30 AM

Further to my earlier comments, Joel read the comments, read my advice to Sen.O'Sullivan on 8/8/14 under "Seafood strangled by green tape snakes", and leave fisheries alone, for you pollies have done enough damage. Your duty of care to the taxpayer and industry has been abysmal, you would prefer to listen to over schooled but uneducated fools from ANU and CSIRO rather than industry participants many of whom are into their 5th or more generation. If Canberra is doing such a wonderful job of managing fisheries why are so many fishers going broke after all the money that was spent on buy backs?
angry australian
17/11/2014 10:20:55 AM

Let me further enlighten you Joel, firstly there is little point in googling "Joyce fisheries" when you well know that Sen. Colbeck is the spokesman for fisheries. Arguably he is no more proficient at the job than the ALP dream team that preceded him in Burke and Ludwig! Let's look at the case of the largest operator in the Small Pelagic Fishery who pays an annual fee to AFMA of around $200 k to fish and yet no party has been prepared to let this operator import the vessel they believe best suits their operation. Quit playing politics and start some genuine dialogue with industry.
angry australian
17/11/2014 1:12:56 PM

..... and finally,thankfully most of that $2.2 billion generated by the fishing industry is beyond the "mismanagement" of the Commonwealth. Crayfish,abalone and most of our prawns as well as our estuary fisheries are managed by the States. As are our valuable aquaculture species of salmon,mussels, barramundi ,Murray cod and kingfish. Even the ranching operations of the bluefin people in SA is mainly state managed, only the take of the initial fish is AFMA managed.The only interference in those industries is the massive compliance costs of the EPBC Act, and complying with AQIS.
angry australian
18/11/2014 11:24:44 AM

Of course Joel,the question I should really have put to you was "Why the hell would Barnaby want to waste everybodies time on a White Paper for an industry that cannot meet its government imposed management fees or where the cost of management is far greater than the return to the community?" Maybe you should get your advisers to go to FRDC and avail themselves of " Evaluating the Performance of Australian Marine Capture Fisheries" July 2009 by Prof G. Kailis you may find most of the work has already been done but for some reason the minister at the time,was it Ludwig? wasn't interested.
angry australian
20/11/2014 8:13:39 AM

Don't become a "post turtle" Joel,for over 20 years you and the Coalition have run a bipartisan policy on fisheries because neither side of politics understood it.Nothing will change until the pollies listen to the industry and not the suits from CFA who wrongly claim to represent it! The Kerin plan is,as was predicted by the industry at the time, is a failure. An untested model that has seen an industry driven into the ground based on the beliefs of the Sir Humphreys in DAFF,AFMA and CSIRO. Ask AFMA how much premium fish such as snapper,ling, etc is being discarded because of management
23/11/2014 4:17:36 PM

Fancy any Labor type expecting to be taken seriously. The remainder of the worst government since Federation are still hanging around collecting and are a complete waste of space. Disgraceful team of nitwits with the main destroyers like Rudd and Gillard floating off to enjoy their big fat retirement benefits and leaving the country in a pile of debt. Useless. Unemployable most of them!!
Out of the shadowShadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon aims to put ag policy under the microscope. Based in the NSW Hunter Valley, Joel also has a unique perspective on the tensions between primary production and mining development.


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