If, as Mrs Kelly MP has said, Premier Beattie’s “ethanol mania” is an attempt to lift Federal Labor’s standing at the forthcoming elections (News Weekly, July 17, 2004), then why is she not trying to do the same for the Coalition’s poor image by having the Federal Coalition mandate ethanol?
At least Beattie is having a go, despite his Federal colleagues’ poor response. Mrs Kelly would do better to encourage the Queensland government to mandate rather than bag their efforts. After all, the Nationals in Federal and State Parliament have a pretty pitiful record on the issue.
Voters are fed up with the political carping that has been the trademark of the Nationals for far too long. The most recent example is John Anderson’s vain attempt to discredit the independent MP and former National, Bob Katter, in his electorate. Well, for my money, he’s worth all the Federal and State Nationals rolled together and then some.
If the Nationals, like Katter, stood their ground on issues facing the rural sector, they might actually get somewhere and they wouldn’t have lost the respect and support of the electorate. Katter’s electorate sees him as a working member and a de facto senator of Queensland in one.
He didn’t vote for the sale of Telstra when 80 per cent of his electorate said not to. When the Coalition voted to abolish the sugar tariff (the single most devastating blow to the industry), Katter crossed the floor to vote against the Bill, unlike some National Party senators.
In claiming that “the ‘ethanol damages engines’ campaign was started in Sydney by the Labor Party, with the support of some sections of the media”, Mrs Kelly should have praised Mr Beattie for his intention to disprove those claims, despite his own party’s involvement in such a scurrilous campaign.
But the absolute corker is her statement; “Given that the Brazilian currency is worth around US36 cents, as opposed to the A$ being worth around US70 cents, it becomes self-apparent that we would be at an enormous export disadvantage” in competing with Brazil on the export market to sell ethanol.
Well, there’s an admission of the Coalition government’s policy failure! You see, the Coalition and the ALP have been shoving National Competition Policy down our throats for years and telling us we “have to compete” on the export market “at export parity prices”. To add insult to injury, the Coalition’s policy also tells us to sell our sugar at that price “on the domestic market too”! No other country in the world is stupid enough to force their farmers to do the same, not even Third World countries!
The currency anomaly between Australia and Brazil is just one of the reasons why there is no international “level playing-field”, where Australian farmers are concerned. Cane-farmers are forced to sell their cane at less than half of the average world cost of production! How’s that for representation by the National/Liberal Coalition in government?
Too bad there aren’t a few more Katter Independents along the coast.
G & S Milani,
Mona Park, Qld