High costs of production in PGA sights

23 Sep, 2015 02:00 AM
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Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook discusses the key issues for industry at the organisaton's annual convention.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook discusses the key issues for industry at the organisaton's annual convention.

THE theme of this year's Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) convention was "the reality in agriculture in a high cost economy", according to PGA president Tony Seabrook.

Mr Seabrook said the high cost of production saw Australia lose almost all of its manufacturing industries.

"Our competitors are expanding their production, while Australia remains encumbered with over-regulation and high costs," he said.

"While limited regulation is necessary, over-regulation can be disastrous.

"It is in fact a de facto tariff on exports."

Mr Seabrook discussed the Federal Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the economy, Rangelands, live export and the challenges and opportunities within the industry.

"As president this year, it has been interesting and challenging, by far the biggest challenge was the process of renegotiating pastoral leases," he said.

"This has resulted in an excellent outcome for our members.

"With the new leases in place we are working towards achieving a stronger and more secure pastoral tenure for our members.

"To my mind, the single most important issue for Rangeland development is sustainability, private investment will (increase) prosperity.

"The grains committee has been working vigorously to give grain growers access to genetically modified (GM) technology, and the outcome of the Marsh v Baxter appeal was a significant win."

More than 200 PGA guests attended the event at Perth's Crown Hotel, hearing from the Prime Minister's business advisory council chairman Maurice Newman, Meat and Livestock Australia trade and market access manager Andrew McCallum, Australian Grain Technologies chief executive officer Steve Jefferies, Brookfield Rail commercial general manager Paul Hamersley, RSM Bird Cameron director Judy Snell, WA primary producer Paul O'Meehan, Bunge Agribusiness Australia State manager Christopher Tyson, and representatives from the Department of Lands, Livestock Shipping Services and Latent Petroleum.

While there were discussions on the drawbacks of high costs in the industry, Regional Development and Lands Minister Terry Redman discussed furthering opportunities for pastoralists.

He said it is not a bad time to be involved in agriculture.

"There has been a fundamental shift towards agriculture," he said.

"We are seeing a change in what is happening, that change has been from a supply driven sector to a more demand driven sector, as well as significant investments."

Mr Redman said in regards to tenure, there hasn't been a clearly articulated pathway for pastoralists or those within the pastoral areas who want to get a high level of productivity.

"We want to support a pathway to those who want to increase the level of tenure, on parts of our Rangelands estates, to get either a Section 79 lease or a pathway through to freehold lease," he said.

"The freehold lease will be a development lease, which sets milestones for what the development project is trying to achieve and ultimately try to move to a high level of tenure."

Mr Redman said opportunities would be approved first and would need to meet certain criteria.

He said the benefit will be that leaseholders will not have to do the work first and then get the approval.

"We are working on the framework and to try to have a clear understanding for pastoralists to be able to work through," he said.

"It might be a pastoralist, it might be a third party investor, but a third party investor won't be able to come onto a lease and work without the support of the pastoralist."

p Brookfield indicates Fremantle Port bid interest. Page 8.

Mr Redman also said Rangeland reform was being reviewed.

"We are trying to change what's been on your agenda," he said.

"I am sending the Department of Lands on an ambitious path, to reform the very old legislation to allow and present other opportunities of tenure.

"We value that area, and we need to find a way to unlock its potential.

"There has been a lot of work on this, and we are engaging with the stakeholders."

The Pastoral Lands Board's replacement with a new Rangelands Advisory Board was also discussed in depth, with past and current PGA presidents having some reservations about the lack of pastoral input into the new board.

Mr Redman said the board's make-up has not been decided.

"I have put together by invitation an expert group of the respective interests, as we saw them," he said.

"They will report to me advice of the make-up of what that board will be."

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READER COMMENTS

Jock Munro
24/09/2015 5:12:22 PM, on Farm Weekly

Mr Redman says 'that there has been a fundamental shift towards Agriculture'. Yet he and his political colleagues are flogging off our key rural assets including farms,supply chains and other agri business to the highest foreign bidder.

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