THE federal government’s highly anticipated green paper on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is due to be discussed in federal cabinet today.
Speaking to the media yesterday, federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce confirmed the green paper would go before cabinet this week but was unable to confirm when it would be released for public feedback.
“I’ll leave that to the hands of my colleagues,” he said.
But Mr Joyce said after 700 submissions the government document had undergone “the most formative white paper process that I think that our nation has ever seen”.
“To give proper respect to those who have put their deliberations into contributing to that white paper, we had to make sure that it was a document that really, when they picked it up, they could say ‘my input is in this document’,” he said.
“I wanted to make sure that happened.”
Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has repeatedly criticised the Abbott government’s delay in releasing the green paper, which was due mid-year.
“Here we are more than halfway through September and it is nowhere to be found,” he said recently.
“What I was afraid was going to be 12 months of policy inertia looks like it will be even longer.
“This inertia leaves the agricultural sector with no clear policy and strategic guidance from government at a time of enormous challenge and opportunity.
“I will continue to hold Barnaby Joyce to account for his promises to the agricultural sector.”
Mr Joyce says the white paper is a seminal document that will underpin the industry’s strategic direction and help to improve farmgate returns to primary producers.
An issues paper released in February this year contained nine key points used to ignite feedback from industry stakeholders which closed in late April.
The process for developing the white paper is being managed by the Prime Minister’s office with the final document expected to be presented to cabinet by the year’s end.
The paper is also expected to link in with other key Coalition election policy documents including foreign investment, agricultural land use and a root-and-branch review of competition policy.
Key issues such as food security, farmgate returns, debt, drought management, supply chain competitiveness, investment, job creation, infrastructure, skills and training, research and development, regulatory effectiveness and market access, are expected to be addressed.