As we gear up for a new season, it’s opportune to reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months and think about how we shape our industry for the coming year.
Water policy: Cotton Australia worked with an impressive gathering of irrigator groups and other farmer representatives to initiate the #MoreThanFlow campaign, driving up submissions to the crucial Northern Basin Review by the Murray Darling Basin Authority. In addition, there were successes with local management arrangements (LMA) in Queensland, Broken Hill’s water supply and Murray Darling Basin complementary measures.
However, recently the industry received a setback in the area of water policy following an episode of Four Corners, which made several allegations against irrigators and industry.
Rest assured, Cotton Australia’s policy team is working extremely hard to restore the reputation of our industry with decision makers and overcome a concerted campaign by the environmental lobby to derail the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Workforce: We worked with many partners to bring about a sensible outcome to the Backpacker Tax issue. The industry also received a substantial boost with the announcement of a $14.7 million investment in training for the cotton and grain industries in NSW.
Research and development: Cotton Australia protected the important commitment to match Government funding for R&D, and also helped steward approximately $22 million in additional R&D investment for 2017-18 across 200 new projects.
Electricity reform: Persistent advocacy produced a win for growers when the Australian Government directed the ACCC to review retail electricity pricing. Growers in Queensland also secured another win when the State Government announced a $10 million regional business support package.
Telecommunications: Cotton Australia’s policy team worked hard to address telecommunications issues in rural areas, joining ACCAN and helping to found the RRRCC, which unite agricultural, rural, education and health organisations to advocate for better telecommunications services in the bush.
Spray drift: Cotton Australia led a multi-industry campaign to help reduce spray drift and damage to crops. Adding to our already considerable annual campaign, we collaborated further with other agricultural industries, supply chain participants and regulators.
We work very closely with other organisations and groups, and very rarely can an organisation claim sole credit for a positive outcome.
I wish you all the best for a safe and prosperous 2017-18 season.