ALP climate policy a mixed bag for farmers

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has announced its climate change policy on the eve of the 2019 Federal Budget – providing clarity on its stance as the Federal Election draws near.

The policy contains a swathe of initiatives and policy changes that touch on almost all key industries: agriculture, electricity and transport, as well as greater detail on mechanisms for emissions reductions.

“No one knows the land better than our farmers – they’ve been leading the way in responding to climate change,” Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon said.

“The Shorten Labor Government will help the land sector to reduce pollution while giving farmers and the forestry industry new opportunities to earn income.”

A return to the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) to develop a ‘high quality, well-functioning, offsets market’ which aims to support industry access to land-based abatement. This would include the establishment of ‘premium’ land sector credits.

Labor has excluded agriculture from liability under its new safeguard mechanism, a commitment that was welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

Announcements regarding Australian agriculture include:

  • $40 million to boost carbon farming methodology research and development, including a carbon assessment standard (to improve its integrity and growth).
  • $2 million over the forward estimates to support the meat industry’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.
  • The introduction of legislation to regulate broad-scale land clearing.
  • A National Forestry Summit and a National Forestry Strategic Plan to support the industry.
  • The introduction of vehicle emissions standards on petrol cars and tighter emissions standards for diesel vehicles.

“An assurance that agriculture won’t directly bear any additional burden in reaching Labor’s proposed 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 is positive, as is a guarantee that a carbon pricing mechanism will not be introduced,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.”

According to the NFF, while a lack of further funding support for the Emissions Reduction Fund was disappointing, the NFF noted that capturing more businesses under the Safeguard Mechanism should increase private sector demand.

“Our vision for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 requires getting the land use balance right – a combination of diversifying income streams and growing agriculture through technology and intensification,” Mr Mahar said.

However, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has levelled criticism at Labor’s land clearing.

“Labor has announced it will extend Queensland-style land clearing laws all over the country. The laws punish farmers for managing vegetation rather than rewarding them for the vegetation on their land,” Mr Littleproud said.

For the ALP’s full climate change policy CLICK HERE.

Read AustralianFarmers’ Energy Explainer to better understand the politics and practicalities of Australia’s energy debate.



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