Policy on Agriculture
Up until 1975, Australian government policy on agriculture represented the world’s best practice. The United States copied the agriculture policy of Australia and the other countries of the British Empire. The United States still has this policy, which involves substantial government assistance to farmers of various kinds. This assistance is as follows:
- Scientific Research
- Local Farm Advisory Officers
- Protection from Foreign Imports
- Grants for Adverse Weather
Australia also had a number of other measures for agriculture, that the United States did not adopt, but that the Americans had for other industries such as telecommunications. These were:
- Produce Marketing Boards
- Controlled Prices
If the Mainstream Party is elected, we will reintroduce all these measures. In the past, the Australian agricultural sector supplied Britain with most of its food. But then Britain joined what is now the European Union. The aim of our agricultural sector now should be to make Australia self-sufficient in agricultural produce, to produce a surplus of commodities that can be profitably exported, and to produce bio-fuels. Regardless of whether our principal customer is Britain or ourselves, the same government measures continue to make sense.
Agriculture is a problematic industry. Farmers are not naturally in a good bargaining position. Farmers do not have the time to be concerned with how to get their produce to the ultimate consumers in the cities. They need to have a company that will buy their produce, and get their produce to the ultimate consumers, without taking unfair advantage of farmers. Historically, farmers set up co-operatives owned by farmers themselves to buy their produce. This idea of co-operatives was further refined until co-operatives became produce marketing boards. A produce marketing board is essentially a co-operative with monopoly powers.
Consider the example of milk. Farmers raise cows, and milk them, and the milk is collected by refrigerated tankers, is bottled, and is sold to the public in supermarkets. A supermarket can sell milk at any price it pleases. If the supermarket increases the price of milk from $1 a litre to $2 a litre, people will still buy just as much milk. Customers are not concerned about the price of one particular item, but about the overall price of their groceries. If the overall price goes up by $50 a week, they will switch to another supermarket, but not if the price of milk goes up to $2 a litre.
Farmers have no way to sell milk to the public. No-one is going to drive 10 kilometres just to buy a three-day supply of milk. In practice, the farmer has to sell to the privatized former milk co-operative. The farmer is told that the company has a contract to supply a supermarket at 80 cents a litre, and so the company can only afford to pay the farmer 20 cents a litre. The farmer is told, “Take it or leave it.” The result is that after the farmer has paid all his expenses, he ends up working for $5 an hour.
Historically, Australians have been opposed to people working for $5 an hour. Employers are not allowed to pay employees $5 an hour. Just as the government controls the cost of labour, so that workers get paid at the award rate, so the government has historically controlled the cost of some agricultural commodities.
For example, the State Government would, if we are elected, set up a Milk Board, which has the monopoly to buy milk from farmers. The State Government could then go to the supermarkets and say, “We want you to sign a contract with the Milk Board to buy milk from them at $1.50 a litre. If you will not sign the contract, we will set up a state-owned enterprise selling groceries, and ban your company from operating in this State.” So the contract will be signed, the farmers will get $1 a litre, customers will pay $2 a litre for milk, and everyone will live happily ever after.
You might say that, if milk is not very profitable, maybe the farmer should stop producing milk, and produce something that is more profitable. This will happen under our policy. For example, the farm advisory officer might say to the farmer, “We don’t think there is any future in milk. You can continue producing milk for the time being, but we’d like you to think about going into truffles. We’ve set up a Truffle Marketing Board that can buy the truffles from you. Here is a book about truffles written by one of our truffle experts. We’ll pay for you to attend a technical institute course in growing truffles. We will also provide you with 10,000 oak seedlings at no cost if you will plant them on your farm.”
We will also introduce an Agricultural Estates Act. A farm that is an economic size can be registered under this Act. The effect of registration will be that the farm cannot be sold or mortgaged, or seized to pay creditors. The farm can only be transferred by inheritance, to a male relative of the owner. The farm will not be subject to property tax. The farm will count as an administrative subdivision of the State rather than as a property.
Under the Whitlam and subsequent Labor Governments, our best practice agriculture policy was abandoned, on the pretext that it involved government regulation of the private sector, and so was communist-inspired. The real reason that the Labor Party abandoned the policy was to ethnically cleanse mainstream farmers from their properties, so that they could be replaced by Catholics. Many mainstream farming families lost properties that had been in their families for generations.
We will be setting up a Hate-Crimes Branch in State Justice Departments. This Hate-Crimes Branch will have a “Directorate of Dispossessed Farming Families”. This will consist of lawyers whose mission is to get dispossessed farming families back into agriculture. The lawyers will have the ability to make financial grants and loans, and acquire property using the government's power of compulsory acquisition. They will be able to put things back to what they would have been if the Labor Party had not embarked on its programme of ethnic cleansing against mainstream farmers.