Probably the most widely requested reform is regarding the national approach to drought preparation, response and recovery. The past 12 months has seen some horrific stories reported from drought effected areas around the country, propelling it to front page news and splashed across mainstream TV. Many are looking for clear vision, strategy and leadership to be put in place to reduce the effects of these oft uncontrollable conditions.
Along with this reform comes the linked issue of skilled labour shortages. Drought impacted farmers are moving off farm and away from traditional enterprises. If there is a dollar to be spent it should funnelled towards helping educate the next generation of land custodians and business operators.
One positive outcome of 2018 was the announcement by the Prime Minister of changes to the overseas worker visa programs which is helping our growers manage ongoing labour struggles and shortages. But there’s still more to be done especially in establishing Visa supported permanent workforces in key sectors.
Did you know that 67 per cent of our national exports come from regional Australia and the gross value of Australian agriculture production, including processing, is $155 billion? Not bad for a population of 24.6 million where more than 99% of Australia’s agricultural businesses are wholly Australian owned, owning 88% (or 343.3 million hectares) of Australia’s agricultural land. Not quote the same rhetoric we hear about the great Aussie land sell off to overseas investors.
The construction sector is not without its needs and wants as well. Calls are being made to address the effects of late or extended payment practices on the cash flow of small businesses and family enterprises in Australia. It’s as simple as subcontractors getting paid on time for the work they have done no matter what state or territory they operate within.
Energy is also top of the mind for most of the country. In short, we all want an energy supply that is fair and competitive by reviewing the market structure and market rules for energy supply. And we want sustainably produced energy as well.