Ellisa Parker

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1. While it may not yet be safe to say the drought has been broken in the Central West, we have had plenty of rain. However, we have just come out of an unprecedented 10-year drought. What are you and your party willing to commit to that will ensure water security for western graziers?

Queensland’s freshwater supplies are coming under increasing pressure as a result of growing populations and fluctuating resource security with climate change.

Instead of energy-intensive and environmentally damaging solutions like desalination, inter-basin transfers, excessive groundwater extraction, and the damming of river systems, the Greens support local solutions to ensure water-sensitive urban design, improved water efficiency, and rainwater and stormwater capture.

We’d establish an Agricultural Rivers Partnership Program to enhance knowledge sharing between farmers to enable improved agricultural irrigation efficiency, erosion control, runoff quality, and sediment control, a stock exclusion program for endangered waterway habitats, and floodplains vegetation and pest management.

2. A new local Agtech business in the name of OPS is starting to become the pride of the town. Agtech is quickly becoming a booming industry, what is your plan of action to help build innovation in the regions?

From talking with Andrew from OPS, it is evident that Australia continues to be a leader in innovative agriculture. Companies like OPS, which offer a holistic model that includes local manufacturing, local employment and training options, employment for people with disabilities, and research and development opportunities, are what we need to keep our rural and remote communities alive.

The Greens will support innovative, sustainable agriculture by reinstating the $25M Carbon Farming Futures grants, assisting farmers to implement sustainable and regenerative agricultural systems and practices that restore and improve soil health, carbon storage, and water quality, water use efficiency, and biodiversity.

3. While many central west graziers do stock cattle, sheep and wool is a large part of our history and culture. The Queensland Labor State Government has committed to the Sheep and Goat Meat Strategy. What are your plans to support what was once the country’s backbone?

Pastured animals play a significant role in our regenerative agriculture plans, turning vegetation into much-needed natural fertilisers. Interestingly, some farmers find that in the first year of transition, even with slight declines in productivity, profitability increases.

We’d also work proactively with the sector to transition the live sheep export trade to a boxed, chilled meat trade processed locally, preferably in rural communities.

Our plan, which has the backing of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), ends subsidies and tariffs favouring live exports, instead of promoting the boxed, chilled meat trade, particularly to countries that currently take our live exports.

4. With recent rains local grazier have ended agistment and financially will be looking strong for some time. How will you and your party look to take advantage of this moment in time for local farmers?

Regenerative agriculture techniques reduce input costs from synthetic fertilisers and herbicides and increase groundcover and native feed. With growing consumer demand for ethically produced products, meat and dairy that are sustainably produced and free of hormones or other chemicals can provide farmers with a better return.

The government has a responsibility to support graziers in good and hard times, for example with incentives to implement integrated pest management plans and upgrade watering systems.

Most importantly, if elected it’d be my responsibility to listen to the Ag sector and help them achieve their vision for sustainable, resilient agriculture in Western Queensland.

5. Any last thoughts on the future for central west agriculture?

I am excited about Western Queensland and its agricultural future. We are a country of ’thinkers and innovators’ – the possibilities are endless.

There is significant potential for small local businesses under a regenerative landscape providing equipment and materials for the diverse needs of a greater variety of crops, and smaller localised opportunities and value-adding for the greater range of activity on farms.