Listen to a Nationals MP and it won’t take long before they spew forth terms like “latte sippers”, “virtue signalling”, “bedwetters”, “woke capital-city greenies”, or some such other dismissive guff.
This childish fact-free language is not just directed at those who live in the city or those with a university education or pot-smoking communist lesbian ecoterrorists – energy analysts, climate scientists, environmentalists, banks, insurance companies, superannuation funds, economists, health authorities, all get the same rot thrown at them.
The Nationals Party has decided to pin its fortunes on the fossil fuel industry. Unfortunately, this approach is more about their personal best interests – whether short-term electoral or financial, or post-politics employment – as opposed to what all the evidence shows is in the best interests of the very people they purport to represent.
Farming is an industry based on science and technology, constantly evolving with new information and innovation. They use observations to make predictions which inform their decisions about what to farm, when, where and how. They rely on weather and climate forecasts, and are cognisant of longer-term changing seasonal trends that affect their planning.
But what’s the point of all their hard work when Barnaby Joyce decides to give more precious water to the cotton farms or to the mines. When Matt Canavan and George Christensen think climate change is crap and coal-mining provides lots of jobs. When Michael McCormack thinks linking bushfires to climate change is “the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies.” When David Littleproud calls for the boycott of “virtue-signalling” banks for fulfilling their fiduciary duty to minimise their exposure to future stranded assets. When Keith Pitt vetoes approval for a wind and battery plant because he thinks, unlike all the energy regulators, giving the gas industry billions will provide cheaper power.
Years ago, farmers used the pesticide DDT to great effect for insect control in crop and livestock production. When evidence mounted of the declining benefits and environmental and toxicological effects, its use was banned except for malaria control in some high-risk areas.
Farmers acknowledged the risk and changed their practices.
Agriculture has a huge role to play in both the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. It is in their best interests to lead the way to a sustainable future and there is enthusiasm to do so from this generation of farmers.
So why do they keep electing Luddites?
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