Mines, ag need common ground to grow: Aust Democrats

Mines, ag need common ground to grow: Aust Democrats

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Tim Burrow, Australian Democrats, believes mining and agriculture are able to exist side-by-side, but the right policies need to be put in place.

Tim Burrow, Australian Democrats, believes mining and agriculture are able to exist side-by-side, but the right policies need to be put in place.

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MINING and agriculture could co-exist in SA, with the right strategic planning and policy frameworks, according to Australian Democrats lead Senate candidate Tim Burrow.

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MINING and agriculture could co-exist in SA, with the right strategic planning and policy frameworks, according to Australian Democrats lead Senate candidate Tim Burrow.

He said this was needed, with both vital industries to the state's economy.

"We hear a lot in the press these days about conflict between mining and farming and, at first glance, there would seem to be little shared interest between the agribusiness and mining sectors," he said.

"But dig a bit deeper (pardon the pun) - and there are many similarities and synergies.

"Not only is gold dug out of the ground, we also produce 'gold' from farms."

He said one of the Australian Democrats principles was to recognise the fundamental importance of agriculture as the key sustainable foundation of regional socioeconomic and political stability, both domestically and abroad, for current and future generations.

"At the most basic level, agriculture underpins society because it allows people to specialise in professions without needing to produce or forage for their own food," Mr Burrow said.

"The modern world sees just 2 per cent of the population providing food for the entire population globally."

While mining has a considerably different social footprint, Mr Burrow believes that many of the same arguments apply for mining as they do for agriculture.

Mining from the very early days of the free settlers' colony was an important component of the economy, and he says it is essential investment and development of the sector is optimised to ensure it is fully, efficiently and sustainably using the resources that are available.

"Both industries drive economic growth for both SA and the nation, as well as contributing to a healthy trade surplus and providing an inflow of investment capital," he said.

"However, as the resources boom comes and goes, our economy is increasingly dependent on the domestic consumption and export of agricultural produce to bring in export income and provide a major injection of capital to the broader Australian economy, to underpin sustainable economic growth and simply maintain our comfortable lifestyle."

Agribusiness and mining both rely on Australia's natural resources to create wealth.

As industries, Mr Burrow says, they also rely on each other to prosper, such as agriculture's reliance on mined minerals, including phosphates to fertilise the soil, and mining's need for agricultural products to feed its workforce.

He said, as well as such dependencies, mining and agribusiness also shared a need for improved infrastructure - the sort of infrastructure required for a mine is exactly the sort of infrastructure needed to service agribusiness expansion.

"At the same time, each can have positive or negative consequences for the other industry," Mr Burrow said.

"To optimise the benefits to SA, agriculture and mining must work together, and we must begin work immediately to ensure the earth we live on is more able to sustain life in all its forms in 100 years' time than it is now.

"This requires a plan with clear policy frameworks and coherent industry strategies."

Mr Burrow said the Australian Democrats were working to identify what ideas worked, regardless of what side of the political spectrum it came from, to highlight gaps and enable change.

"But to get to an outcome, we need to start from common ground," he said.

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