Politics of spin

No area of government responsibility has been more subject to spin in recent times than agriculture.

ARE people sick and tired of political spin? I believe they are.

It’s one of the reasons our political system has become so unpredictable, if that’s the word? The electorate has shown little tolerance for politicians who do not back up their rhetoric.

No area of government responsibility has been more subject to spin in recent times than agriculture. This government is simply not delivering beyond the jargon and slogans.

First we have a White Paper which is full of it. For a start, the promise of billions of dollars in drought assistance is overvalued due to drought loans measured by total value rather than their cost to government. Drought loans that in fact are destined never to be allocated. Then there are the loans facilities which require matching funding. And of course, the various small programs which sound great but lack detail.

Second, Barnaby Joyce wants everyone to believe he now has responsibility for water. Malcolm Turnbull wants you to believe that too because that’s how he appeased the Nationals. But even a cursory look at the Administrative Arrangements show the responsibility for water legislation remains with Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

Third, not a day goes by without Barnaby Joyce claiming credit for higher commodity prices. Interestingly, he takes no responsibility for the fall in others. The best example is cattle prices where the national herd is in decline. Like all markets, the price is a function of supply and demand. As supply continues to contract, prices rise.

Fourth, Barnaby Joyce keeps taking credit for new live cattle export markets. The reality is, this is a natural progression for the industry and has been made possible by the animal welfare system put in place by the former Labor government.

Fifth, Barnaby wants everyone to believe he’s going to build dams everywhere. That’s because he thinks it’s a popular thing to do. It’s true they are popular with some, but it’s also true they are not welcomed by others. But that’s not the issue. Dams will or not be built on the basis of three key points. A) Do their benefits outweigh their impact on the natural environment? B) Are they economically viable? Remembering, the water they provide has to be affordable. C) Will the private sector be willing to invest?

Sixth, Barnaby Joyce has now asked one of his back-benchers to write a “White Paper” on agricultural co-operatives. Again, he knows that the idea of promoting these co-operatives is popular. But after two years and all the resources of a Department behind him, he needs a back-bencher to write the policy? Do back benchers write white papers? I think not!

Seventh, on May 2, 2015, Barnaby Joyce claimed "SHOVEL-READY projects" that will stimulate economic activity in drought-struck regions of NSW and Queensland are on the verge of being unveiled by the Coalition. To date not one project has been approved, not one job created and not one cent spent on this much trumpeted initiative.

Eighth, Barnaby Joyce misled farmers on the Liverpool Plains that the changes to EPBC Act would only be partial and not affect them; he is yet to explain his false statement to the farmers of the Liverpool Plains.

Ninth, Barnaby Joyce doesn’t understand and is dangerous to the farming sector with regards to the long-term sustainability of our natural resources. On May 11, 2015 Barnaby Joyce joined in with the conspiracy theories, agreeing with climate wacko Andrew Bolt that the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology were “warmist institutions” aiming to “get your money and put it in [their] pocket and send reports backwards and forth to one another.”

Tenth, Barnaby Joyce has shown that he pays little attention to the detail of his own policies, from bungling his answer about drought assistance to the Parliament during Question Time on October 20, 2014, which was initially doctored and then reverted back, to admitting to ABC's Leigh Sales on budget night that the depreciation initiative timelines announced on the night didn’t add up.

Yep, two years on and not much to show for his work but spin. No strategic guidance, no work on productivity, nothing about changing weather patterns and sustainability, just spin.

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Joel Fitzgibbon

Joel Fitzgibbon

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


angry australian
6/10/2015 7:13:32 AM

Joel there is spin, then there is straight out BS. I'm not committed to either the ALP or the Coalition, but at least I know what the Coalition stands for. I got sick of waiting for you to use this blog to let us know what Labors rural policies were so I went to your website http://www.alp.org.au/regionalaus tralia and what did I get? Spin layered in BS. No policies, no concept of how you are going to help rural Australia, nothing about increasing farmer profitability or drought policy. Joel apart from your rural forum have you even been to rural Australia in the last year?
6/10/2015 4:04:46 PM

Angry is right in his comments, but Joel also sees right thru the Nationals spin. frankly agriculture has had a gut Full of the major parties. Agriculture needs representation that actually represents farmers
Franks Final Grade Dugong Scrapers Walsh Shed
6/10/2015 8:05:41 PM

Really you two. Are you having a lend? First go to the senate inquiry on the Murray Darling Basin. Tell me what a bunch of farmers are doing wanting to give water to foreign investors by way of themselfs. Way to much straw for these people. Give me a cheque book and I recon I could be as handy as the Nationals, with my business. You are all on something funny.
angry australian
7/10/2015 6:45:43 AM

Not sure what point you're trying to make Frank. We all know what the Coalition haven't done re Levies recommendations, White Paper,NLIS ,paperwork burdens, labour scarcity etc in fact it's fair to say that Barnaby has talked the talk but.....Even the FTA's are an intangible asset in the immediate future. If we don't get the profitability of primary producers up we can forget about export. On the other hand our alternative write BS and don't want us to see their plan until about 5 days before the next election. Industry should be in a position to evaluate,criticize or commend ALP policy now
8/10/2015 5:44:39 PM

After the Live trade debacle, after the TURC revelations, how can anyone in the rural sector believe in or trust an ALP man? And there is no one more ALP than Firzgibbon. Suspect he only "sees" the rural areas on his plane to Canberra.
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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