Nats keen to deliver $300m

27 May, 2013 02:00 AM
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Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies was confident the Nationals could get its $300 million agricultural policy through, despite not holding the balance of power or the Agriculture and Food portfolio.
Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies was confident the Nationals could get its $300 million agricultural policy through, despite not holding the balance of power or the Agriculture and Food portfolio.

THE Nationals WA is still confident it can deliver on its pre-election $300 million agriculture policy.

The new Member for the Central Wheatbelt and parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Mia Davies told Farm Weekly this week that The Nationals was the only party with a long-term vision for agriculture.

Questions have been asked in recent weeks as to why The Nationals have remained quiet during much discussion about the issues in the Eastern Wheatbelt, given that party leader Brendon Grylls once represented the region and now that Ms Davies, who was born and bred in Wyalkatchem, has been elected to the Central Wheatbelt electorate.

"Our position is that we took a comprehensive policy on the future sustainability on agriculture to the election and we are committed to delivering that," Ms Davies said.

"Every opportunity I have had I have promoted that and discussed it with stakeholders and we are still committed to delivering it."

She said the State Government was currently going through the budget process, which is set to be handed down on August 8, and the Nationals were pushing the case.

Ms Davies even went as far as saying it was a "non-negotiable" at the discussion table.

Without the balance of power in the Lower House, it appears the Nationals' bargaining power would be limited but the party does have the balance of power in the Upper House.

"I think, from our perspective, it is a non-negotiable," she said.

"We went into this election with the ag policy as our key election commitment and we have got ministers still sitting around the cabinet table.

"Brendon Grylls is still the Regional Development Minister and he is still in control of Royalties for Regions which is where this policy is funded from.

"This is over and above the normal budget allocation and I can't see why any Agriculture Minister would knock back the opportunity to deliver what is essentially a comprehensive policy which allows us to take a huge step in ag and change where we are (currently)."

Ms Davies admitted the situation had certainly changed since the State Election with Mr Barnett taking a more direct interest in agriculture and the Liberals taking the agriculture portfolio.

"The key thing is that we rarely had to flex our muscles in a parliamentary sense (when we had the balance of power) and we still have that same team sitting around the table and we have still been invited to be part of government," she said.

"So for us this is what we are putting on the table and we are determined to deliver it."

When asked about the Nationals' agriculture policy offering commitments which potentially won't be returned to the farmgate for another five to 10 years and farmers needing something more immediate to get through the next 12-36 months, Ms Davies said she understood the current 'agriculture in crisis' situation.

"That is something which is put to me all the time and that is why it is right for us to provide hardship grants and the State Government has always been in a space to provide assistance for farming families that are experiencing hardship," she said.

"But in my view our package should be available to any farm business that is in hardship, regardless of where they are or what their equity position is and that comes off the back off all the best drought policy science and reviews from the last 20 years.

"The current grant makes sure that farming families have appropriate finance to put food on the table and will enable them to make decisions of what they want to do into the future.

"We are also making sure that we are keeping an eye on the future, so that those that do actually come through this crisis and do come through this hardship, we need to actually be looking at what does agriculture look like in the medium and long term and our ag policy does that."

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READER COMMENTS

Someone of Corrigin
2/06/2013 5:54:15 PM, on Farm Weekly

The Nat are a spent force. Mia only cares about Northam and Merridin. Barnett can do what he likes with RFR money he does not need Grylls to govern. I have emailed Mia twice with isuses and as you would expect no reply.
Mark
3/06/2013 10:43:36 PM, on Farm Weekly

Money will not solve every problem

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