Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) together with SunRice welcomed the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water, and Member for Farrar, the Hon. Sussan Ley, Minister for Health and Sport, for a tour of the Deniliquin Rice Mill.
This long awaited visit provided the RGA and SunRice the opportunity to discuss, amongst other things, water, trade and the telecommunication issues impacting upon our growers, their communities and their industry.
The RGA used the opportunity to repeat its calls for the Federal Government to commit to no further water recovery. Minister Joyce acknowledged the issue and said that the matter while complex, is being considered but needed to be dealt with via political and executive processes.
The willingness to keep this matter on the agenda by Minister Joyce was appreciated by all who attended.
The RGA is quietly confident that the Basin Plan can be finalised as soon as possible without any further water recovery from productive use or further pain to our industry and communities.
However the RGA recognises the important of continuing to make this message known to all levels of government.
The RGA also expressed its disappointment that Australian rice has been continually overlooked in previous free trade agreements negotiations; and sought reassurance that this would not be the case during the term of the current government.
The RGA further conveyed the message that with future advances to agriculture likely to result from innovation in data collection and manipulation, sensors and robotics, it is essential that rice growers have access to the telecommunication services they require to grow their businesses.
While the current government has invested in black spot funding to improve services locally, more needs to be done to ensure local mobile and internet services are equal in quality and affordability to services offered to our metropolitan counterparts.
This is not only critical to ensuring the prosperity of growers’ businesses, but to protecting the safety of members, their families and employees and to enabling them to complete their educations.
This message was reinforced when during the visit one of the Minsters failed to send a message due to lack of coverage.
Minister Joyce and Minister Ley were also reminded of some of the State government matters impacting upon our rice growers, including the current Rice Vesting Review and the ambiguous allocation system.
The RGA also took the opportunity to thank Minister Joyce for the $4 million announcement made during the election campaign to support rice research and development.