Farmers have rolled into Melbourne on tractors, prime movers and utes, urging Labor to rethink its plans to destroy prime agricultural land throughout Victoria.
The farmers, from all different parts of the state, are warning that our food and fibre production is at risk, with thousands of kilometres of prime land set to be ripped up and replaced for wind turbines, towers and transmission lines.
Federal Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said Labor’s reckless race to achieve 82 per cent renewables by 2030 would have huge consequences on the agriculture sector.
He said he previously asked the Prime Minister for a National Energy Summit, to put all options on the table, but the best the Albanese government could do was a small inquiry into how to consult better.
“The Nationals have also been attempting to get a Senate Inquiry into renewables and transmission lines but crossbench Senators have been blocking it,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We are not against renewables, but Labor is threatening to take away the tools our farmers need to provide Australians with fresh, healthy and affordable food.
“Farmers are becoming increasingly anxious about the situation – which is why they have come to Parliament House to plead with the State Labor Government.
“We need to look at the social licence of these projects. The Nationals wholeheartedly standby and support our farmers here today, who just want common sense to prevail.”
Labor’s plans for renewables, including 28,000 kilometres of transmission lines at a cost of at least $80 billion, will impact farmers like Gre Gre grain, vegetable and bean farmer Billy Baldwin.
He said he made the 300-kilometre journey to Melbourne with his tractor to raise awareness.
“People need to realise renewables will carve up prime agricultural land,” Mr Baldwin said.
“It will decrease our efficiency to farm and feed people – resulting in higher grocery prices. There are better ways if we take a slight step back and have a look at what is happening.”
Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster said it was time Labor Governments at all levels respected all regional Australians, particularly those on the land who feed and clothe the nation.
“Projects such as the Victoria New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) compromise the livelihoods of our farmers and the biosecurity and productivity of their land,” Dr Webster said.
“The flow-on effect is Australian families pay more at the checkout through higher grocery prices, while their energy bills are also inflated to pay for infrastructure costs for these transmission lines. It just multiplies the cost-of-living pressure on Australian mums and dads.
“I am proud to stand with these farmers and those who live in regional Australia and I am pleased to be here today with David Littleproud, continuing to show our commitment to them.”
Deputy Leader of the Victorian Nationals Emma Kealy said the cost of living was skyrocketing under a Labor government that has destroyed energy security in Victoria.
“Farmers keep the food on our tables and our economy ticking over,” Ms Kealy said.
“It makes no sense to bulldoze through their farms.
“Building new power lines is unnecessary and expensive, but Labor will make every Victorian pay for this frivolous project through even higher power bills.
“Plan B should be Labor’s Plan A - upgrade the existing powerlines to unlock renewables, rather than riding roughshod over farmers’ rights and reducing Victoria’s food production.”