Australian farmers should begin asserting their rights rather than being co-opted by the National Party to oppose action on climate change, writes John Longhurst.
BAZZA RUBBED his chin as he flicked through news on his iPad. He paused for a chuckle and looked up as Mick approached with two schooners.
“There you go, Bazza. What’s amusing?”
"Thanks Mick. Well… the French farmers’ unions don’t muck around when they protest. They block traffic and dump manure and rotting produce in front of government buildings. They are fighting for a better deal. They certainly make the French Government take notice and bring about some action."
Mick furrowed his brow:
“All a bit militant, Bazza… no wonder you support those tactics.”
Bazza grinned and took a long sip:
“Ahh Mick… what I like is the farmers are fighting for something in France. In Australia, the organisations representing farmers seem to spend all their effort opposing something.”
Now, Mick compare the French farmers to the Rally Against Reckless Renewables in Canberra last week where your mate Barnaby Joyce was leading the charge. The French farmers are for something, whereas the National Party, who claim to represent farmers 'n Australia, run negative campaigns… from anti-vaccinations to opposing climate change policies.
Mick rubbed his chin and took a sip:
“They are standing up for their membership, Bazza.”
Bazza rubbed his forehead:
“I wonder to what extent they reflect farmers’ views. In fact, I reckon a lot of farmers would not support some of these ‘causes’. I get the impression Barnaby trawls through the internet to find something to oppose and then goes after it… in Trump-like fashion.”
Mick leaned in:
“That’s a bit harsh, Bazza. What do you expect them to do?”
Bazza took another sip:
Campaign for something that farmers care about, like the unfair bargaining position they are in when it comes to supermarkets. Coles and Woolworths dominate the setting farm of gate prices. They have too much bargaining power. It is little wonder their profit margins are considerably higher than countries with greater supermarket competition. I just wonder what the French farmers would do in light of this unfairness.
Mick bit his bottom lip:
“I actually agree with you for once, Bazza. What’s your suggestion?”
“Make more noise for a start; identify all the impediments to increasing competition amongst supermarkets and maybe think about ways farmers can bargain collectively or set some minimums.”
Mick’s eyes widened:
‘Ahh come on, Mick…. The government has just passed legislation to improve the livelihood of workers in the ‘gig’ economy, you know Uber drivers and the like. I reckon farmers could benefit from something similar.”
Mick shook his head:
“The National Party opposed that change, Bazza. They are against it.”
Bazza laughed out loud.
John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.
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