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Govt fiddles while a nation's dreams burn

Date

Barnaby Joyce

Illustration: Ward O'Neill

Illustration: Ward O'Neill

I remember, and have mentioned it before, that when working on my family's property I was annoyed by the perennial stream of campers and shooters who would appear in every nook and cranny; many without ever asking permission. I wanted to flick them but my father was more forgiving, stating: ''How can you expect someone to love their country if you never let them set foot on it?''

Similarly, the extrapolation is that a nation should ensure that home ownership is more than a dream and an Australian can own a farm and have a future or a small business that represents the dreams of a family. This should not be quashed by the exploitative forces of market centralisation. The Nobel laureate's economic theory that endorses the aspiration of patriotism, participation and ownership may be hard to dig out of the library but it is the essence of what a nation is. It stands to reason that the desire to protect the house you own is going to be vastly more pronounced than the desire to die for the rental. If I am only ever going to be merely the paid hand, never the owner, then who the master is is only partially relevant compared with the pay.

Flag waving is all well and good, but the nation whose legislators strive to enshrine the individual's right to prosper, protecting the smaller from the unconscionable acts of the larger, is the better gauge of patriotism. The vision of Australia as a corporate farm is a sign that we have lost our soul. Imagine how our nation would have perceived returning servicemen being offered a job on a corporate farm as quid pro quo for offering their life as opposed to the offer of the soldier's settlement block. The problem is you cannot have a farm if you do not have access on fair terms to the market and a market needs a multiplicity of buyers and sellers in a transparent forum.

When legislation protects the position of the powerful to exploit the weaker rather than redress the disparity of terms, then the community loses faith in the representation of the nation. A dollar a litre of milk is exploitation. When a major retailer says it will not buy lambs from the saleyards, that destroys the lamb market. Vegetable growers being offered take-it-or-leave-it terms with no real alternative venue to market their product is a sign of complicit or inept legislators. A lessee in a shopping mall where all the terms and rent are the exclusive remit of the lessor, to the extent that they have access to your till and the more you earn the more rent they charge, is something that would be more appropriate to serfdom than the western suburbs. But, it happens.

Life is easy in politics if you just wave the flag at the appropriate time but avoid the battles that engage the established interests of market power. Labor never engaged on the rights of the individual against the market power of the large. It banged on about climate change, but that cost was just duckshoved down to the individual via their power bill. From latest observations the carbon tax has had no effect on the climate either.

What have the fruits of this been? Well, we are $262 billion in gross debt, tens of thousands of farmers have left the land, we are progressing to a mining feast or famine economic monoculture, and we have the most centralised retail sector in the Western world. Instead of helping those in business we have lumbered them with a fascination for single-handedly cooling the planet, excessive occupational health and safety laws so that the bleeding obvious now requires a ticket; a tax act that you could not jump over and an insidious divestment of the individual's right of ownership.

Inside the pomerium, the disinclination to challenge the interest of those who have benefited from exploiting small business has created a vacuum that is filled with battles against climate, new descriptions of marriage and daily scripted pieces to camera. The electorate meanwhile goes to the movies to see Abraham Lincoln. Meanwhile, the 24/7 media fascinate themselves with iterations about shades and colours of issues from the shallow end of the philosophical pool.

>> Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate leader and the federal opposition spokesman for regional development.

13 comments

  • NOW ABOUT the FAILED WELFARE REFORM!

    Commenter
    Myke
    Location
    Canberra!
    Date and time
    January 17, 2013, 11:13AM
    • Great article Barnaby,

      From a personal perspective, as someone who grew up on the land and would like nothing more than to own and run a cattle property, it is with despair that I realise my capability and willingness are irrelevant in the face of the barriers put in place by a government who is more interested in appeasing the lowest common denominator whingers in Melbourne than supporting those who would be happy putting their heads down and working hard for the rest of their lives for a living and to support the development of the nation as a whole.

      Commenter
      Jimc
      Date and time
      January 17, 2013, 11:13AM
      • Here's Barny trying to steal Joe's clowns hat.

        Gotta admit it would look good on Barny but Joe's got so much panache when it comes to wearing it.

        Commenter
        J. Fraser
        Location
        Queensland
        Date and time
        January 17, 2013, 1:05PM
      • J. Fraser,

        Given the fact that you havent even remotely addressed the substance of what was written, I will take it that you agree with what is being said and in desperation are dribbling something petty that only you can decypher in an effort to take away from a considered piece of writing.

        Commenter
        U. Juanker
        Date and time
        January 17, 2013, 1:16PM
      • Thanks for that "U", unfortunately events overtook Barny's little article although of course he wouldn't have noticed because he is probably standing in the corner of one of Gina's paddocks cheering on the poisonous LNP newman government as they kick Queenslanders.

        I mean how pathetic is it .... first tug at the heart strings about how things were 100 years ago (ok maybe a bit of exaggeration there Barny is probably economically only 95), then throw in a bit of patriotism , then heap blame on those big bad corporations (conveniently forgetting the little jaunt Gina gave him to India) and for gods sake do not .... repeat ... do not mention cotton farming in one of the dryest continents on earth or the CSG mining that in all likelihood has already poisoned underground aquifers (just have a look at the outbreaks of Legionnaires in the camps).

        What a great article by Barny ....... yeah only if you always read "The Australian".

        Commenter
        J. Fraser
        Location
        Queensland
        Date and time
        January 17, 2013, 3:09PM
    • Up here in Queensland the poisonous LNP newman government wants all indigenous people to own their own land.

      Of course newman does nothing to ensure they have jobs.

      And then we have the Abbott team with Laming tweeting about welfare.

      I think Barny should get another fully paid trip to India from Gina, call it a holiday, to help clear the overgrown paddock between the corn he is sprouting.

      Commenter
      J. Fraser
      Location
      Queensland
      Date and time
      January 17, 2013, 1:10PM
      • Sorry Mr Joyce but until the Nationals go back to grass roots and start representing the regions again I cannot take anything you say seriously. I live in Wide Bay and hear all the 'right words' about looking after the regions etc., fact is that nothing has been done to help us. This area has like the 2nd highest youth unemployment (could be highest now) in the State and when we maybe have an opportunity to get more work, start a business etc., your mate Warren Truss tells us we don't need NBN, the dodgy satellite that we already have for TV will be fine. Really? It cuts out at least once a day and if it rains we can lose it for hours, you can't run a business on that, so it an area where you lousy transport you can't even work from home and you guys think that is ok?

        As far as I can see, the Greens are trying to help farmers & regional areas more than the Nationals are, that is shameful and Joh Bjelke-Petersen would be rolling in his grave if he could see how you have deserted us!

        Commenter
        YaThinkN
        Location
        Sunshine Coast
        Date and time
        January 17, 2013, 1:47PM
        • Don't try this one Barnaby .. "Imagine how our nation would have perceived returning servicemen being offered a job on a corporate farm as quid pro quo for offering their life as opposed to the offer of the soldier's settlement block." . Having known a few soldier settlers in the family THEY WOULD HAVE JUMPED AT THE CHANCE to work for a big boss and get reliable pay and conditions because they knew weren't farmers and they had no capital . Let me educate you Mr Barnaby . The cynical purpose of the soldier settlement program was to disperse thousands of hardened and bitter veteran soldiers who might be a threat to the ruling elite . Did they give the 'returning heroes' the best land ? no they gave them 'STARVATION BLOCKS' as they were called .The squattocracy kept all the good land .
          The future of farming is big fully automated corporate farms .. not family farms run by amateurs .. In any case even the farm will eventually disappear as "food factories" such as vertical food towers and huge greenhouses are positioned closer to cities guaranteeing a more reliable local food supply ..

          Commenter
          Dan
          Date and time
          January 17, 2013, 2:10PM
          • lol this is prety old fashioned nobdy even lives on farms any more. who carez about that stuff.

            Commenter
            aaron
            Location
            belconnen
            Date and time
            January 17, 2013, 3:22PM
            • Aaron
              Where do you think your food comes from.

              Commenter
              J Walker
              Date and time
              January 18, 2013, 7:38AM

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