O’CONNOR Liberal Candidate Rick Wilson has sounded a loud warning about the Australian Green’s ‘listening tour” of regional Australia under the party’s new leader, Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne.
“They are no friends for farmers and rural Australians,” he said.
Senator Milne replaced long-serving Green’s leader Bob Brown on Friday April 13 and immediately signalled her intention to try and win over rural voters by gathering their views during the tour.
The program kicked off in Orange, NSW last week where she met with farmers and visited other related businesses, including an apple orchid, and will resume this week in South Australia.
But Mr Wilson - a grain and sheep farmer near Katanning, WA - said the difference between the Greens and the Liberals in rural areas was like comparing apples to watermelons.
Mr Wilson said anybody who thought the Greens were friends of rural Australians and farmers needed to think again and be cautious about the new leader’s ultimate intentions.
He said the Green’s policies and ultimate policy intentions had the capacity to cause more social and economic pain than those of any other party.
“Policies such as removing the Diesel Fuel Rebate, closing the live cattle and sheep trade and banning surgical mulesing have the potential to render vast tracts of the agricultural area across Australia unviable,” he said.
“This of course is the unstated goal of the green movement - particularly as the more radical elements such as NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon, an avowed Marxist, exert more influence over the party.”
Mr Wilson said history has shown that farm lobby groups that try to appease Green groups only cause damage to the industry they represent.
“We witnessed the mulesing debacle with Australian Wool Innovation and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and more recently Meat and Livestock Australia getting into bed with the World Wildlife Fund, only to find that they plan to impose a completely un-costed “sustainable management plan” on the beef industry,” he said.
“It is very clear to me as a farmer that the only way to protect our agricultural and horticultural industries is a strong Coalition government.”
Outside of the first two visits to NSW and SA, the Greens have not revealed any further details on the listening tour and where it will go or who they will meet with, including to WA.
Mr Wilson however declined to meet with the Tasmanian Senator or Green’s representatives to provide input into the listening tour.
As a Liberal candidate it is not appropriate for me to meet with the Greens to discuss their policies,” he said.
“My role is to advocate a vote for the Coalition.”
Mr Wilson will run against O’Connor’s current representative in the Federal Parliament, Independent WA National Tony Crook, who defeated the electorate’s long-serving MP Wilson Tuckey in 2010.
Last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with Mr Crook in his electorate where she announced a funding commitment of $5 million for the Anzac centenary celebrations in 2014.
Mr Crook’s fellow Independent MP Tony Windsor also visited the O’Connor electorate last week in Kalgoorlie for the Regional Development Australia committee’s inquiry into the impacts of fly-in, fly-out workforces on rural communities.