Letter to the editor

September 07, 2017

Wesfarmers posts profit

Wesfarmers has reported a $2.87billion full-year profit despite comparable food and liquor sales growth at its Coles supermarkets slowing to just one per cent.

Coles’ earnings decreased 13.5 per cent to $1.61billion and comparable sales growth fell from 4.1 per cent in 2016 amid fierce competition with local rival Woolworths and German chain Aldi.

Bunnings and Officeworks both reported improved earnings, while Target trimmed its pre-tax loss from $195million to $10million as Wesfarmers continues to overhaul the department store chain to exit unprofitable categories and improve merchandising.

Craft beer a surprise winner

Dainton Family Brewerys Cherrywood Smoked Baltic Porter was named Champion Australian Craft Beer at the Australian Craft Brewers Conference on July 28.

The conference is run by the Craft Beer Industry Association, the trade association representing craft brewers nationwide.

The Cherrywood Smoked Baltic Porter, made by the Carrum Downs brewer, was a surprising winner, given its complex and unexpected flavour profile.

The beer won the category of Champion Porter Stout before being named the overall winner of the industry award.

Dainton Family Brewery also received gold medals for its IPA and Choc Orange Porter, silver for its Draught and bronze for its Cranberry Gose.

Founder and head brewer Dan Dainton said the award was a huge surprise and they were thrilled to think that they rated alongside their peers in the industry.

Mr Dainton suggested the win signalled a healthy thriving craft beer industry, saying ‘‘the fact that a beer that drinks like a chocolate cigar has one Australia’s best craft beer makes us believe we as a beer drinking community are on the right track to drinking more exciting, flavoursome and independently made beer’’.

New secretary for DELWP

The Victorian Government has appointed John Bradley as the new secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Mr Bradley was previously director general of the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet, and director general of the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Since 2013, Mr Bradley has been chief executive officer of Energy Networks Australia, the peak body representing Australia’s electricity transmission and distribution and gas distribution businesses.

Mr Bradley has also held senior positions with the Queensland Water Commission and the Western Australian Office of Energy.

He has previously advised the International Monetary Fund and held several board directorships.

Spotlight on oldest food crops

A national roadshow will throw new light on Australia’s oldest food crops, thanks to support from the Farming Together program.

The roadshow is being organised by Australian Native Food & Botanicals, representing 200 growers and harvesters from across Australia.

The $169900 grant will see 10 roadshows across Australia, with the roadshow travelling to Melbourne in February 2018 with the location to be announced.

■For more information visit: www.farmingtogether.com.au

PM needs to focus on water

It was pleasing to see Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paying a visit to Sussan Ley’s Farrer electorate this week.

However, from the media coverage I have seen, there does not appear to have been a lot of discussion about issues faced by the many food and fibre producers across the electorate.

I agree that issues on Mr Turnbull’s radar, such as energy prices and inland rail, are important topics which need to be openly discussed because they can benefit our economy and create jobs.

So, too, can our food and fibre producers, especially if Mr Turnbull is able to get a better grasp on what they need to increase production.

There are so many wonderful possibilities and opportunities across our region, which boasts impressive agricultural assets, gravity feed irrigation systems, processing plants like the largest rice mill in the Southern Hemisphere — the list goes on.

Unfortunately, when Mr Turnbull was water minister a decade ago he introduced a Water Act which has been an unmitigated disaster, at huge cost to the Australian taxpayer.

What is even more unfortunate is that Mr Turnbull seems reluctant to acknowledge its failings and appears to be frightened of taking proactive steps to improve our use of water, possibly because he fears a political backlash from influential environmental groups.

If Mr Turnbull had taken time during his visit to the area he could have visited regions like the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn valleys, which have the capacity to feed people domestically and throughout the world, provide endless job opportunities and help get the nation’s debt back on track.

I hope that during his visit Ms Ley spoke to him about the failings of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and reiterated comments she recently made about how it has battered and bruised towns in her electorate.

Hopefully she also took the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister about the environmental damage this plan is causing as it tries to force huge volumes of water through her neck of the woods, causing the collapse of the Barmah Choke, river bank slumping and erosion.

With political commitment we can protect our precious Murray River environment, as well as the food and fibre producers on whom the nation relies.

At present that commitment is lacking. I hope that message was reinforced to Prime Minister Turnbull while he was in our region.

—Alastair Starritt, Moama, NSW

Hands off our prime agricultural land

The 10 to 20 year future strategic plan for Seymour recently released by Mitchell Shire Council wants to destroy an incredible 450ha of prime agricultural land to make way for vast areas of concrete and corrugated iron.

The council wants to create a massive industrial zone stretching along almost 4km of the scenic Goulburn Valley Hwy (north bound), destroying prime agricultural land that is a vital community asset.

This proposed area represents an incredible 1363 per cent increase on current vacant and available industrial land for future development.

A contradictory report published by Mitchell Shire Council just over 12 months ago claimed there was 33ha of industrial zoned land available around Seymour which would be sufficient for the next 67 years, according to their own research on past and predicted demand.

The current availability of industrial land means that the Mitchell Shire Council’s proposal is both excessive and unsupported by their own research.

Why, you may well ask.

More than 200ha of this extraordinarily flawed intended land grab by Mitchell Shire Council was classified in the 2014 Hume Regional Growth Plan as ‘Strategic Agricultural Land of National/State, Regional or Sub-regional Significance’.

Given that a fundamental objective of our state’s planning policy is to protect productive farmland, the council’s proposal clearly fails to conform to our state and national vision for food supply and security.

Our great nation was developed by riding on the sheep’s back.

If we want fresh and healthy Australian food on our plates to sustain the wellbeing of successive generations, we must say ‘no’ and put a stop to the destruction of our precious and prime agricultural land.

The value of prime agricultural land, which is quite obviously a finite resource, must be cherished and protected at all cost by Mitchell Shire Council, Victoria, Australia and indeed the world at large.

For continued prosperity, primary production export incomes rely substantially upon the sustainability of productive soils.

We require long-term meticulous vision from our strategic planners, not pie in the sky fancies that lack basic common sense and sound judgment.

The industrial aspects of this structure plan are ludicrous and gut wrenching to affected land owners.

Readers, if you value our agricultural industry and quality Aussie food then please make a submission and let Mitchell Shire Council know it makes no sense for prime agricultural land to be lost to industrial zoning which should be placed on less productive land.

Now is the time to act.

—Lance Marke, farmer, Seymour

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