Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Wright Electorate: Food Security
According to the 2010 Intergenerational Report, Australia will have a population of 35 million by 2050, with over six million of these people living in South-East Queensland. In my electorate of Wright there are at least two new cities on the planning agenda, one at Yarrabilba and the other at Flagstone. Each of these new cities will have 30,000 residents all requiring housing, transport services, schools and hospitals, and food. By 2050 the world’s population will exceed nine billion. This raises the obvious question: how will these people be fed? This very question is now being asked by the agricultural industry in Queensland, especially Growcom, the Queensland fruit and vegetable growers association. The significance of this is obvious to me in my electorate, which contains some of the most productive small cropping farming lands in Australia. It is fast being overtaken by housing and urban sprawl. Many of our major food production companies are being purchased by foreign nationals. Our fresh food production and food security is under threat.
Australia does not have a cohesive and comprehensive national plan in place to guarantee that arable land with suitable water and climatic requirements and adequate infrastructure will be available into the future to guarantee our food supply. The loss of productive agricultural land has become an issue of concern in Queensland and throughout Australia. Increasing urban pressures on farmland in urban fringe areas is creating land use conflict and marginalising viable farming operations. Added to this are the pressures from mining and gas production. As a nation we have not grasped the importance of maintaining a critical mass of farmers and farmland. Farming enterprises are being pressured to embrace the environmental expectations of rural residential communities who want the lifestyle of acreages properties but are not always accepting of the normal farming practices that are being carried out on and around them. At the same time, higher land prices, land taxes and local rates introduced by development and lifestyle investors make it increasingly difficult for farms to maintain viability, or to further develop and expand or to maintain or improve productivity.
I urge the Queensland government to take their strategic cropping land discussion paper seriously and to use it to develop a new policy framework that will provide increased clarity for agriculture. What is at stake is the food security of our nation and this is something which we should not be prepared to gamble on.