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Farmers damning report on NT parties in run up to election

The report card indicates the level of funding commitment that has been made to help NT Farmers action each priority area.
The report card indicates the level of funding commitment that has been made to help NT Farmers action each priority area. Contributed

With little more than a week to go before the Northern Territory Election, NT Farmers has issued a damning report card on all major parties.

NT Farmers released their election priorities a number of weeks ago, publically and to the CLP, Labor and 1Territory.

In the release were 11 priorities with fully costed projects attached.

The total cost of the funding commitment that was being sought for the programs was $5 million over five years.

However, NT Farmers CEO Shenal Basnayake said that as of August 18 no party had committed any funding to the eleven outlined priorities if they win government on August 27.

"All of the programs that we sent to the political parties were as a direct result of our engagement with our members,” Mr Basnayake said.

"The priorities are based on what farmers in the Northern Territory want.

"It is very disappointing that not one of the parties has committed to fund the programs.

"They were all fully costed with detailed concept proposals. It's not like we are asking for a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.

"It's $1 million a year for an industry that is worth about $270 million a year to the Northern Territory.”

Mr Basnayake said the report card was provided so that farmers and people interested in the commitment by all political parties to funding the priority areas could stay informed.

NT Farmers Federation CEO Shenal Basnayake is disappointed with the lack of commitment shown by the major parties in the Northern Territory.
NT Farmers Federation CEO Shenal Basnayake is disappointed with the lack of commitment shown by the major parties in the Northern Territory. Mark Wilton

While the political parties have as yet made no commitment to the priority list, Mr Basnayake said that the report card would be placed on NTFA's website, be distributed via NTFA's enews bulletins and social media and would be updated as commitments are provided.

"The report card is a timely reminder to all political parties that promises alone without clear funding are meaningless,” Mr Basnayake said.

He said that from the Country Liberals, Labor and 1Territory, only Labor had approached the organisation to discuss issues prior to the election.

"The ALP has been very proactive by engaging with NT Farmers about the priorities that we released.

"And they have indicated they are keen to work with us.

"But we have heard nothing from the other parties, and at the end of the day talk is cheap unless it is backed up and they commit.”

Mr Basnayake said that it seems "strange” that agriculture has not been able to secure any commitment to the priorities.

"There have been lots of announcements made about funding for all manner of things, such as health and education and infrastructure. They are all obviously welcome and valid.

"But the rhetoric has also been that agriculture is one of the pillars for the Territory.

"We have been happy with the announcements about other things related to the industry, and we welcome those.

"But these priorities are what farmers actually want and it is for the greater good of the north.

"We have had outstanding support for projects from Government Departments such as Business, Primary Industry and Land and Resource Management over recent times, so for members it is just frustrating that the political parties do not seem to recognise the value of the industry.”

Despite the lack of commitment from any party to date, Mr Basnayake said that NT Farmers were committed to working in partnership with Government to increase the delivery of on-farm services and the recent partnerships were examples of Government moving in the right direction.

"The priorities were designed to help plant industries to continue growing and most importantly lead to an increase in farm productivity, efficiencies, sustainability and farm gate returns,” Mr Basnayake said.

The Priorities included:

. The development of a Plant Industries Strategic Development Plan

. The provision of on-farm biosecurity advice

. Identifying and utilising Agri Technologies to increase productivity

. Water use efficiency and on-farm water use planning

. On-farm energy sources, use and efficiency planning

. On-farm research and development extension services

. Support for market and supply chain development

. Developing strong policies and programs around managing urban encroachment

Topics:  agricultural business agriculture australian labor party


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