Article by Jenne Brammer courtesy of the West Australian.
Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart has argued farmers should not be expected to wear unfair costs in the Federal Government’s commitment to net zero emissions.
In a speech posted online for National Agriculture and Related Industries Day on Sunday, Ms Rinehart also argued it would be impossible to grow the value of Australia’s agriculture if there was a push to limit “belching livestock” numbers.
The billionaire said after a difficult year for farmers, the “big elephant in the room” was the Government’s commitment to net zero emissions.
“Other than farmers with a few iron mines to help their bank balances, how on earth after so many bad years depleting farmers’ resources can those in agriculture be expected to dish out for electric vehicles … solar panels … or the greater costs added to the transport industries of new non-fossil trucks and locos,” she said.
Ms Rinehart said New Zealand had better policies, noting it carved out agriculture from its emissions targets, and didn’t “waste taxpayers’ money going to Glasgow (COP26 summit) — which in itself surely added to emissions, more than our belching cows”.
She accused the Federal Government of being increasingly isolated from agriculture and small business, together the biggest private employers in Australia.
“Are they going to stop moves to reduce the numbers of our belching livestock, which are the major sector of our income-earning agricultural industry,” she said.
Ms Rinehart usually gives her National Agriculture and Related Industries Day speeches at a major industry event, but plans to deliver it at a Queensland dinner were cancelled because of uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions.
As one of Australia’s biggest pastoralists, she said there was more noise than fact about how green energy would create new jobs.
“I know the miles of solar panels will need wiping to be effective, and the millions of dead bats and birds — lives claimed by wind power infrastructure — will need collecting and burying,” she said.
Ms Rinehart also said an industry would likely need to be created to deal with old solar panels, with a suggestion they may need to be buried if other economical ways could not be found without government handouts.
“Panels which will need changing every eight to 10 years, to maintain effectiveness,” she said.
The WA businesswoman highlighted in her speech ideas on how the Federal Government could assist agriculture, which included allowing farmers to clear their land to decrease the risk of bushfires, compensating for past clearing restrictions, and reimbursing past fines on farmers who had cleared land to protect their families, staff, pets and infrastructure.
Ms Rinehart said as well as slashing red tape, the Government also needed to recognise “water was king” for agriculture.
“(The government should be) letting farmers build dams, plus where the country is suitable, building hydroelectricity projects, enabling more water for agriculture, water that otherwise flows uselessly to the sea. And to do so without more years of delay,” she said.