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Plan for Australia of the future

WHAT do we want our food, fibre, and forestry industries to be like well into the future?

Do we want the land and practices to be improving so we can keep on producing?

Do we want to ensure equity of access to all infrastructure and trade facilities?

Do we want to ensure Australians can get jobs in agriculture?

Do we want Australia to capitalise on its innovations and regenerative practices, and keep a handle on its international competitive advantage - land area?

With foreign ownership again on the table with GrainCorp's potential sale, this is a big one because of the infrastructure involved in markets and storage, and the entire supply chains, both for the food and feedlot industry.

On first look, it feels like we are selling Australia's entire grains industry.

Our decision-makers need to be crystal clear about the future they are trying to create for Australia, and the long-term future needs for Australia and Australians.

This needs to trigger some clever and considerate conditions on foreign sales.

It is also the associated businesses in the supply chain that need certainty, and the flow-on effect into the supply chain needs to be assessed.

In some instances, a long-term lease may be an option.

The conditions need to deliver on environmental, economic and social improvement targets that are established and monitored.

Maybe licences should be pinned on these, if they default - and tax incentives could be offered for improvements.

No matter what, the Australian Government needs a holistic context.

It needs to capture the values of Australians, what has to be produced to deliver on these values and what the long-term future has to be like for us to live our values.

What does it look like when the country is at its best? How are we seen by others when our community (home and work) is at its best, when our infrastructure is at its best and when our environment is at its best?

Then make decisions towards that context.

I noted last week our local member Lawrence Springborg had come back from Japan, where 200-year plans are created for businesses, so our state plan for 20 years looks lightweight.

But can I say it is a great start, and much better than no plan at all.

The key is, though, that before we get stuck into a plan, we need to use the values from the Queensland planning process to create a context in which the plan reflects.

To make the lovely words mean something and be useful, there needs to be a decision-making process that can offer transparency to the community about why a decision was made.

Managing holistically does this, and offers incredible engagement outcomes, and right now, with these big decisions and big plans, a holistic context would be mighty handy for this country.

Topics:  foreign ownership graincorp grains helen lewis


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