Deficient policies  


Part 2

This part has been written in the midst of a state election campaign (February 2014). It was a key reason why I wrote to the various political parties to ascertain their policy stance on the rural regions.


Labor Party policies

It's February 2014, just a few weeks out from a state election. According to Labor at http://www.sa.alp.org.au/policies/policies, there are seven priorities for South Australia’s future.   

(Note : if the policies have changed since 2014 it is because of political party preferences)  

Not one of these policies refers to what I consider to be the greatest risk to the state’s rural economy - the impacts of climate change and what actions should be taken to mitigate the consequences.

The “Objectives of Country Labor” according to Labor’s website also lists a few political notions and nothing else. No conversation about rural and regional support. It is confounding.

These seven priorities reveal a different story - a hidden story, perhaps one that few want to talk about. 

An Adelaide-centric focus is one part of that hidden story, and that is no more evidenced than the extraordinary “investment” in projects in and around Adelaide during the past 10 years. In the run-up to the election thus far, all the talk has been about Adelaide.

This investment has been partly at the expense of the rural sector.

Why is this so?

It was not until I saw a pie-chart graph in “The Advertiser” supplement SA Business Journal On December 3, 2013 that I saw the answer. 

More on that later.

If these seven policies are all that Labor can demonstrate, then there is a critical gap in its collective mindset. Labor parliamentarians will stand accused of short-term thinking, expedient decisions, and with no action plan to confront the greatest risk to the rural sector of the state.


Liberal Party policies

41 policies are described on the Liberal party website. As with the Labor Party, the main focus is on economic development. 

There is no policy on the land environment. There is no policy on addressing the impacts of climate change, there is no policy on changing the agricultural landscape environment for future adjustments under predicted climate change scenarios (this is called foresighting). There is very little reference to rural regions.

The Liberal Party policies have a large bias towards economic development, and this is the flaw in the Opposition’s overall approach. 

At a time when the threats of global climate change are many, and at a time when the threats to the future of the agricultural economy are large, it is a great disappointment that there are no policies for rural sector support.


The Greens

It would be expected that there would be a strong focus on the land environment from The Greens, but that's not the case. Within the suite of 17 policies, there is scarcely a mention about the regions and the rural economy. The policy on the environment is quite narrow, and neglects the need for landscape-scale change.

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Given the very large volume of work in the public domain describing land disturbance and its impacts, and the declining condition of agricultural land, it is baffling why there has been no policy (that I am aware of) from either Labor or Liberal or The Greens, to repair ravaged agricultural landscapes, to provide new rural industries, and to make South Australia’s rural economy more resilient. 

Perhaps the magnitude of the problem is not understood, perhaps it is too difficult to contemplate, perhaps there is no priority, perhaps people have given up. That would be a mistake.


Now comes a crucial discovery, Part 3 —> 

How important is the agricultural economy  

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