White papers: Agricultural competitiveness and Northern Australia

The Australian government has recently released two important white papers on “Agricultural Competitiveness” and “Developing Northern Australia”.

The White Paper on Developing Northern Australia is the first ever white paper on Northern Australia. It focuses on building priority roads, developing water resources, removing red tape, building a sustainable workforce and ensuring effective governance arrangements.

As quoted by Beef Central (17/6/2015), Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said that the White Paper is expected to be a major boost to the region’s agriculture sector.

On 4th July 2015, Prime Minister Tony Abbot also released a long-awaited Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper. The white paper includes five priorities:

  1. A fairer go for farm businesses
  2. Building the infrastructure of the 21st century
  3. Strengthening our approach to drought and risk management
  4. Farming smarter
  5. Accessing premium markets

The coverage of the White Paper is quite extensive from weather forecasts to pest control and live export regulation.

There has been some pros and cons of the white paper. As reported by ABC Rural (4/7/2015), the National Farmers’ Federation said:

“it would give the Agriculture White Paper “a 7 or 8 out of 10”,

but was disappointed not to see plans for an inland rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane in the document”.

Meanwhile, the Labor and Greens criticised the plan as it does not deliver “the broad strategic plan”; while the Greens raised concerns over “the absence of climate change considerations in the document” (ABC Rural 5/7/2015).

Despite the white paper’s pros and cons, the devil is in the detail. Who will do what and when?How we can measure our success (or failure) and we should review the progress?

One important aspect is to ensure that the policy will be implemented and effective for making Australian agriculture sector competitive, profitable and resilient. To achieve this goal, partnerships between the governments, industry, research communities and general public are important.


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