"The Business Council of Australia (BCA) welcomes the commitments in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper released yesterday to improve market access, invest in infrastructure and R&D, and reduce red tape," BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“These initiatives will have a positive impact on the competitiveness of a sector which has the potential to succeed on a global scale,” Ms Westacott said.
“Research undertaken for the BCA last year found that agriculture had the greatest comparative advantage of any sector of the Australian economy.
“Realising this opportunity requires a new mindset on the role of agriculture. We need to shift from a mindset that focuses on the farm gate to one that focuses on high value add manufacturing and food production.
“This will be the best way to achieve better farm gate returns and significant job creation. It will require increased productivity, increased foreign capital and an unprecedented commitment to removing red tape.
“Government policy needs to focus on driving productivity growth through investment and innovation, and on co-ordinating and integrating our supply chains to deliver high quality products for which consumers, domestic and global, will be happy to pay a premium.
“This requires action that facilitates structural adjustment, encourages the development of efficient scale and removes barriers which are impeding the competitiveness of the sector.
“It is important that the government’s efforts to promote agriculture are consistent with its broader economic agenda. In particular, these efforts should build on the achievements of the Minister for Trade in opening up international markets for Australian products.
“The government’s action to lower the FIRB threshold for rural land and its proposal to lower the threshold for agribusiness investment are of real concern, and risk undermining the prospects of a sector that’s central to the diversification of our economy.”
Ms Westacott said that the case for appointing a specific ACCC commissioner for the agriculture sector, as proposed in the White Paper was not compelling.
“The ACCC already has a broad remit and responsibility to pursue competition issues, including those facing the agriculture sector.”
For further information contact:
Executive Director, Communications and Advocacy
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8224 2602 • Mobile 0457 822 642