Get Australia Growing plan launched
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has unveiled its plan for agriculture to accelerate Australia’s COVID economic recovery. NFF President, Fiona Simson launched the Get Australia Growing plan in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.
“The opportunities the NFF presents have the capacity to provide a rapid boost to a farm sector recovering from drought, fires and flood, as well as the impacts of COVID-19,” Simson says. “When farmers do well, Australia does well. Regional Australia played a key role in staving off a recession during the GFC; it can play a leading role again.”
Get Australia Growing calls for an end to the strategy “vacuum” for the future of regional Australia. It also calls for a renaissance for regional food and fibre manufacturing.
“COVID restrictions have caused many businesses to think flexibly about how and where they operate,” Simson says. “This shift in thinking creates enormous opportunities for ‘regionalisation’ of the Australian economy. It’s an opportunity we must not squander.”
Let’s start with the bush
Simson says COVID has also provided a salient reminder of the need for a revitalised domestic manufacturing capability.
“For a long time now, economic realities have forced a decline in local processing of food and fibre, as well as production of critical farm inputs,” she says.
“New technologies such as smarter approaches to energy and automation have the potential to reverse this trend. But we need to look at how governments can incentivise the private sector to make these investments.
“A properly resourced plan to improve the competitive environment for local manufacturers – particularly in regional Australia – must form part of our COVID recovery.”
The NFF’s Get Australia Growing document makes 35 recommendations to fuel growth. These include calls to reinvigorate regional manufacturing, fix the Murray Darling Basin Plan, get regions digitally connected and help get more people into jobs in agriculture.
“Australia is the envy of the world in how it is managing the COVID health crisis,” Simson says. “We’re well-placed to lead the world in the economic recovery also. The obvious place for that recovery to start is in the bush.”