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Farming is an industry based on science so why do they elect Luddites?

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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  1. Ken

    The answer to your last question is because they can, which highlights how our system is broken.

  2. GL

    Kaye Lee,

    To paraphrase a saying, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to groan and sigh.” Or in a Gumpian way, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  3. ajogrady

    I would have thought that farmers and the Greens have more in common then farmers have with fossil fuel loving Nationals. Which begs the question why are there no Greens candidates in rural seats.

  4. New England Cocky

    Now Kaye Lee you obviously have too much worldly experience to live in a country electorate that values the opinions of Barnyard Joke and his cronies.

    The thinking goes this way ….. that nice Mr Menzies said back in 1954 that we had to look out for “Reds under out Beds” so each night I religiously peer under the swag. I have never found any Reds but I certainly have discovered plenty of mice this week.

    Granddad told us all before he died in just after the Melbourne Olympics (1956) that Black Jack McEwan was an excellent supporter of agricultural socialism and that we should always vote for the Country Party to keep our government hand-outs flowing, even in good seasons.

    We were disappointed when the Country Party changed its name to the Nazional$ Party to allow the foreign owned multinational corporations to make ”political donations” AKA ”political bribes” to off-set the cost or droughts and flooding rains, but that was OK because our government funded agricultural socialist policies insured that we maintained our extravagant life-styles regardless of the weather.

    Now that our towns are being flooded with tree-changers wanting to escape the over-crowding, air pollution, traffic congestion and angst of city living it is a bit unreasonable for those new comers to expect the Nazional$ politicians to upgrade mental health, hospitals, education, policing and public infrastructure funding to the same level as expended in city electorates to adequately cope with the increased population.

    Why, it was good enough for Grandpa, so it should be good enough for these blow-ins, and if they don’t like it then they should take their investment money and go elsewhere.

    All those empty shops in the main street have failed because the family business proprietors could not compete with the national and international retailers exporting their takings out of town on a daily basis, thus preventing the about seven times (7X) multiplication effect on general town turnover. But as that nice Mr Giovanni Porkbarrelo said, all we have to do is keep voting like our grandparents and nothing will change.

    You know what the new school teacher said the other day? In every election,

    and we will replace the 4/8 remaining Nazional$ politicians west of the Great Dividing Range and be able to influence decentralisation policy for our own local economic boom.

    I think he may be one of those Commies that Mr Menzies was talking about.

    But we are farmers, the surviving 4% of the Australian population that still live on government handouts without having to satisfy JobSeeker demands.

  5. DrakeN

    In rural districts farmers are a minority of voters, that’s possibly why the mad Nats get the support that they do.
    The general public is a mix of small business proprietors, poorly educated workers, drunks, religious zealots and sports fanatics.
    Intellectualism is often scorned and being seen as ‘different’ is seriously disadvantageous.
    These things are changing as the process of ‘brain drain’ is slowly being reversed with the onset of working remotely from traditionally centralised locations, and immigrant “people of colour” etc. are making their way into less populous regions, so that ‘difference’ has become more commonplace.
    So, don’t pick on the farmers – they are the least of the rural worries.

  6. Canguro

    ajogrady, not so. A friend of mine has over the last two federal elections contested the seat of Lyne on the mid-north coast of NSW on behalf of the Greens. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

    The seat is currently held by a National Party member, David Gillespie, a gastroenterologist and commercial real estate speculator. My friend is a masters degree qualified agricultural scientist with a great depth of experience in field extension & education along with a deep knowledge and understanding of ecosystems and the science behind climate change and the consequent challenges to the rural community. Prima facie, if objectivity counted, he ought to have been the farmers’ choice for their federal representative.

    While Gillespie, as a doctor, would be expected to have more than a passing appreciation of GW issues and the challenges that flow to the rural trustees, his skills base is far more urban than rural and in networking and glad-handing rather than addressing the problems arising for the farming community.

    Objectivity doesn’t count. We’re not rational creatures.

  7. Kerri

    This always baffled me when the farmers were screaming about fracking on their land!
    The blatant stupidity and disregard for self interest they display by voting LNP instead of Greens.
    Maybe it’s a generational thing?

  8. New England Cocky

    @Cangaro: I appreciate your friend’s tenacity in an electorate with a too long history of self-serving conservatism. Port Macquarie started life as a penal settlement, graduated to a poor fishing village then blossomed as an early target destination for tree-changers before the term was popular. In the 19667 New England New State referendum PM bucked the trend by voting AGAINST the New England State that generally favoured self-government the further you got away from Sydney.

    In recent times the local Nazional$ have disgusted Rob Oakeshott sufficiently for him to become an Independent who made a 23 minutes speech explaining why Toxic RAbbott was unfit to be Prim Monster, as later experience demonstrated.

  9. Greg Pocock

    In Singleton at the moment with the election on upper Hunter, the National$ must be spending hundreds of thousands promoting their chosen candidate, the public school at the end of my street is totally covered in NATZ ( or as I like to call them Rum Corps ) bunting , a whole Forrest of trees with his dial on it . They are desperate

  10. margcal

    “So why do they keep electing Luddites?”

    People can be clever in one or more areas while being bloody stupid when it comes to voting.
    And I fear there are so many such people that we won’t be getting a new PM at the next election.

  11. Andrew J. Smith

    The NFF is more relevant and up to date on science for farmers when the NP has drifted into a intra-government lobbying outfit, like the Libs they have also drifted from SE Australia post Tim Fischer and present MP Darren Chester being shafted, into a QLD party (meanwhile disgust at Abbott, Joyce et al. for their very public and pious Christian conservatism……)

    Many years ago one’s own farming father (southern NSW) and rusted on NP supporter, and for a time ‘Joh for PM’ supporter, then spat the dummy at him ‘a bible bashing bastard’ (after corruption allegations), voted Democrat in protest and apparently said that the Labor govt. were better for small medium farmers (even after removing tariffs, single desk marketing etc.).

    Fast forward, the NP now looks like the US Koch ‘bill mill’ ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council that lobbies US Reps on model legislation catering to e.g. big oil, big tobacco, corporate agriculture, mining, energy and resources including fossil fuels, and whatever is prioritised by the IPA.

    However, the NP is far better for deep pocketed supporters, subscribers and patrons because rather than ALEC using lobbyists to access reps and govt., the NP is in government, with the Liberal Party dependent upon the LNP coalition, hence, have to roll over for many NP initiatives, whether they like it or not.

  12. Andrew J. Smith

    NEC: On Oakeshott, an older farming relative in southern NSW and rusted on NP voter, complained bitterly about Oakeshott deserting the NP, affecting the balance of power for the Abbott govt. and accusing him of being disloyal, ambitious etc. However, when same uncle was informed that Oakeshott’s partner was indigenous and became tired of the racism amongst too many NP types, he then rolled his eyes with resignation… ‘why doesn’t that surprise me…’ (he later did 180 degree turn on Abbott too).

  13. Gangstas Paradise

    Ever so glad to be a “woke capital-city greenie”.

    So I cannot understand why farmers and Nat rats turn into “bedwetters” when they see me coming.

  14. Max Gross

    Sheep voting for butchers

  15. Kangaroo Jack

    Kaye Lee thank you for another excellent article. I have read and been inspired by your work for quite a long time, and your grasp and use of irony is amazing. I live in the guts of a farming district and I can assure you the thing missing from every conversation is words of more than six letters relating to anything other than the weather. Farmers in the main are quite stupid. I’ll repeat that so everybody understands my position, farmers, in the main, quite stupid. They vote the way their fathers voted. They do not apply any thought at any level before they vote, and they farm the way their fathers farmed and rarely apply science to their practice. This is evidenced by things like clearfelling hundred thousand hectare farms, focusing their entire livelihood on the death of other living creatures and then running around telling the gullible public that they love their animals boo hoo and what is done on live export ships is a dreadful thing and a terrible thing and they would never countenance such a thing on their own properties, however their head chopping customers in Arabia require that the animals arrive alive so that they may spread as much blood as they possibly can, since head chopping in Riyadh only happens on Friday and they really do need lots of bloodletting on the other six days. That’s because otherwise they don’t feel quite human. Some younger farmers may take up the idea of using technology if it enables them to kill more animals and keep things square with the bank manager, but the older ones certainly not, I’ll just do what their daddy did. When I moved to my small country town, the average IQ went up almost 450%. And I don’t vote green.

  16. Wam

    My experience with farmers is limited to a friend whose sons are in cotton and an orchardist, both national party and definite deniers. I would not stand between a farmer and a chance to make a quid.out of clearing,, spraying or selling. Oops a lot like LNP governments?
    DDT was banned in 1972 in America. Our farmers used it openly till Dec 31 1987 when it’s use was banned by government.
    Kangaroo Jack,
    Spot on with your words on Kaye but farmers are not stupid.
    They are too frightened to take any evidence from labor or, in their terms, the left ABC.
    Consequently they are unable to have any comparisons to modify their belief in the propaganda. QED vote Nats.
    Your bottom line is music to my ears. I respected the greens all through the 60s and 70s for their honesty and principles. Over the last 40 years pragmatic considerations modified principles and sharp money making considerations became the norm at elections and the principles were hollowed.

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