Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Primary Industries spokesperson
The White Paper released yesterday by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture is a welcome for Tasmania on the surface, however it has failed to address many issues that are pertinent and the Greens will be keeping a close watch on both the Abbott and Hodgman Liberal governments to ensure those issues are not ignored.
Aside from the obvious failure to address the most significant threat to our wellbeing of the modern day; climate change, the White Paper does not provide an avenue to address concerns specific to Tasmania, such as biosecurity, weeds and pests, water availability, dams and drought.
While there is an emphasis on counselling and increased mental health services for farmers suffering stress and anxiety due to uncertainty around the economic climate and falling commodity prices, it does not take into account that Tasmania’s mental health system is already in significant crisis due to lack of resources and significant under funding. Will the Abbott government being providing additional support to Tasmanian farmers living with mental illness given these circumstances?
Tasmania’s feral cat problem, along with other biosecurity concerns, likewise do not appear to have been considered by the Department in drafting the document and the Greens want to see further consultation with State departments as there has clearly been a lack of communication of the needs of primary producers here.
The explosion of feral cats around the State is driven by the alarming drop off in numbers of the Tasmanian Devil and is a clear example that Tasmania’s numerous endangered species need to be carefully considered in any implementation of the recommendations contained within the White Paper.
The Hodgman government have recently tabled legislation to amend the process and regulations around the construction of dams on private property in Tasmania and likewise that will need to be very carefully managed as while removing red tape can provide for faster and further development, lack of proper regulation and scrutiny will come back to haunt the State if it is not implemented correctly.