National Farmers Federation release Get Australia Growing report

Australia’s peak agricultural body, the National Farmers Federation, has called for governments to “Get Australia Growing” out of the COVID-19 downturn.

The 20-page document is framed around responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic but also touches on a number of themes that The Nationals would find familiar.

Economic forecasts of negative growth and an expected 10 per cent unemployment rate as a result of the pandemic are of serious concern to The Nationals, and our teams in the state and federal governments are working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy, while also investing in job-creating and job-saving programs.

We welcome the NFF’s statement that the regions are “the engine room of Australia’s economy”. This is something The Nationals have always espoused because we know just how important the regions are to Australia’s prosperity. There are countless jobs in the cities that exist because of strong regional industries, and this has always been our argument.

The Nationals know every single dollar sown into rural, remote and regional communities reaps an economic benefit for all Australians. The NSW Nationals certainly encourage this sort of forward-thinking demonstrated by the NFF, so we can improve the lot of everyone who chooses to live outside of the big cities.

The NFF calls for “20 new regional deals”, and points to the NSW Nationals in the state government’s Special Activation Precincts as a model that should be considered for federal deployment. This is a model that is proving successful because we as an organisation have been successful in securing billions of dollars from the sale of Snowy Hydro that we are now able to invest in the regions. If ever there was any doubt of the power of being a strong regional voice and having a seat at the table, this is what it’s all about.

There are always going to be challenges for The Nationals when we bring common sense and community support into a room full of inner-city bean counters, but we’re getting on with the job of cutting red and green tape and supporting primary producers during these difficult times.

We’re particularly looking forward to the federal government’s AgriStarter loans for young farmers, which should be delivered through the Regional Investment Corporation early next year.

There’s a number of ways people from the coast and the country can come together to get a fairer deal for the communities we love, and we thank the NFF for their contribution to this important discussion.

Are we perfect? No, far from it, and there are always ways to do things better. But as a country-minded organisation that’s from the regions, for the regions, we’re determined to get up every morning, pull on our boots and have another go at it.

Andrew Fraser
NSW Nationals Chairman