On 14 May, 1985, Prime Minister Bob Hawke officially opened the National Farmers’ Federation House, in Canberra.
In his address, Prime Minister Hawke commended the NFF’s ‘permanent and prominent focus to the farmers’ voice’. It is a pursuit the NFF remains committed to do today.
However, Prime Minister Hawke’s legacy for agriculture goes far beyond bricks and mortar, says NFF CEO Tony Mahar.
“In many ways the reforms and policies introduced during Mr Hawke’s tenure as Prime Minister shaped the farm sector we know today.
“His Government’s changes to the tax system, liberalisation of agricultural trade, and establishment of the agricultural research and development corporations set the foundations for Australian agriculture’s excellence on the world stage, an excellence that continues to this day.
“These were visionary and key reforms that the NFF championed during this era.”
Mr Mahar said perhaps one of the Hawke Government’s greatest legacies was the establishment of Landcare in 1989.
“Then NFF CEO, Rick Farley and Phillip Toyne of the Australian Conservation Foundation formed a historic alliance and jointly advocated to usher in the ‘decade of Landcare’ and more importantly, brought the importance of environmental sustainability and natural resource management aligned with productive agriculture in national co-operation.
“Landcare brought together both farmers and the environmental movement, an often understated achievement in political history, particularly in that era.”
This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of Landcare nationally. Today, it is more than an environmental program, it is a grassroots movement and a source of national pride exemplifying what can be achieved through consensus and goodwill. The fact that it is thriving 30 years on is a testament and remains one of the NFF’s fondest achievements.
Mr Hawke’s ‘Wentworth address’ to launch Landcare, delivered on the banks of the Murray River encapsulates the NFF’s attitude towards policy and advocacy today:
“Solutions… are to be found through co-operation at all levels of government and by community groups who care for the land.
“With the right mix of political commitment and community support we can ensure that our country is simply the best in the world.”
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the NFF and today presents a timely opportunity to remember past visionary leaders and governments that have worked to see agriculture flourish. Former Prime Minister Hawke is a giant amongst such figures,” Mr Mahar said.
A plague recognising Mr Hawke’s opening of NFF House remains proudly on display at the Federation’s inner Canberra headquarters, serving as tribute to the leader’s lasting advancements for our industry and the people and communities behind it.
Vale Bob Hawke.