What do you consider to be the most critical issue in agriculture in SA and what would you do to address it?
RAMSEY: A skilled labour and worker shortage, exacerbated by COVID, is restricting our agriculture sector. Re-starting the backpacker pathway is vital and is why we are currently waiving their $630 visa fee. We have introduced a specialist AgVisa, allowing for easier entry for ag workers. Escalating input costs, particularly fertiliser and chemicals, are driven by supply interruption.
TIM WHITE: Climate change will impact every industry and area of our lives. Agriculture is no exception. The Greens plan is to keep farms economically viable and environmentally healthy by implementing robust science-based greenhouse reduction targets. The Greens have committed to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels and reach net-zero emissions by 2035.
HABERMANN: The most critical issue people are raising with me is action on climate change, including severe weather events which are rising. The agriculture industry need to have the policy framework and surety that provides confidence.
CARMODY: Ag is such a complex thing. I rate my ability to understand all things economic but after half an hour of reading ag policies, my head hurt. I was thinking about farm investment decisions and I think the most critical issue for agriculture is long-term certainty.
SUZANNE WATERS: Drought and climate variability, biosecurity, global competition, and changes in consumer choice present ongoing challenges for farmers across the country including SA with potential food shortages. More particularly included for SA is water ownership and security. Where there is increasing constraints on land, water, environmental stewardship, energy consumption and farmers walking off the land, there is an urgent need to future proof our industry.
KERRY WHITE: I'm very concerned for farmers in Grey about the potential impact of the nuclear waste facility planned for Kimba. Building this in farming country makes no sense, although I'm more concerned about the chance of accidents during transportation of nuclear waste. I'm also keen on extending leases for pastoralists, and cutting a lot of the red and green tape from these leases.
What is the biggest challenge in Grey at this time?
RAMSEY: Worker shortage in trades, hospitality, retail, health, disability and aged care, with perhaps the most chronic being rural doctors. Barriers are multi-layered with no easy fixes. We provide millions for incentive programs, recruited hundreds of doctors and nurses to entry programs and now waive HECS debts for rural service. They are positive programs but more is needed.
TIM WHITE: The cost of living is playing heavily on the lives of many people in Grey. The Greens will reduce the cost of living and lift wages. With a tax on billionaires and big corporations we can make dental and mental health free under Medicare; wipe student debt; scrap fees for childcare, public school, university, and TAFE. We can also tackle the housing affordability crisis.
HABERMANN: People are talking to me about the rise in the cost of living, the demands for goods and services not able to be met, a skilled workforce, and a plan for the future. Grey has been ignored as a safe seat for too long.
CARMODY: The economy. Grey is just one cog in the machine that is Australia. It is the overall economic configuration of that economy that determines our future. It is funny, we seem to have forgotten the direction we took in going from being an undeveloped country in the early 1900s to a developed one by the 1970s. We did things like have more doctors, more and better hospitals, public education. Yet in recent years we seem to have forgotten this and are going backwards.
SUZANNE WATERS: The electorate has broad acre cropping, pasture and livestock producers, as well as a very productive seafood/ aquaculture industry, tourism industry and mining. A lack of skilled workers and long term water security and fuel security are high on the agenda. The reliance on overseas suppliers of farm chemicals, fertilizer and fuel needs to be reduced and self sufficiency addressed.
KERRY WHITE: I think every hard working Australian should be able to own their own home, or at least be able to rent one, but as we've seen recently this is becoming harder for a growing number of Australian families and people in Grey are no exception. Many of our communities are struggling to find homes for people. I am backing our policy to increase housing supply by banning foreign ownership of residential property.
What infrastructure investment would you like to see in Grey?
RAMSEY: Our future lies in value adding and growing our modern manufacturing industry. Critical minerals are the new frontier and we are supporting graphite production. I have worked for these outcomes and will continue targeting initiatives bringing sustainability, jobs and support for local communities.
TIM WHITE: Boosting the seaweed farming industry Seaweed farming is an industry that is yet to realise its potential. There exists an untapped knowledge base in the fishing communities on EP that, when resourced by The Greens seaweed farming infrastructure initiative, would diversify the aquacultural industrial base though sustainable seaweed farming for the food and textile industries. The Greens will provide $200m public investment to Whyalla Steel Works.
HABERMANN: We are experiencing a severe housing shortage across Grey, which is impacting all of Australia. It means even if we can secure employees for our businesses, they have nowhere to live. I would like to see investment in housing for regional Australia.
CARMODY: Hard infrastructure like roads, housing, hospitals, communications, or even soft infrastructure like better staffing of phone services to save hours. I still think a good policy is a soft infrastructure one and that is the job guarantee. I do not think its fair that people should not be able to get employment and the best current way to achieve full employment is to have a non-inflational employment guarantee scheme.
SUZANNE WATERS: We need to do feasibility studies into various modes of transportation to see what will be financially viable and beneficial for the regions. The desalination plant proposed for Boston Bay needs to be addressed and an appropriate location decided that does not impact on the fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries. For long term water security it needs to be a scalable plant.
KERRY WHITE: I think the outback has potential for development and tourism, but not without infrastructure, better mobile coverage and health and emergency services and facilities - I'll also be pushing for more federal dollars going to local councils to address the very poor state of local roads.
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