The Albanese Labor Government must step in and protect farmers from Westpac imposing deforestation targets on agricultural commercial lending, Member for Mallee Anne Webster says.
Dr Webster said the banking sector should not add to the burden of Australia’s strict native vegetation protection laws set through State Governments.
“What place does a bank have to push these rules on our farmers?” Dr Webster said. “It is an overreach at best and once again does not understand the focus on healthy land and environment that our farmers action everyday.”
Dr Webster said Labor needed to ensure the banking sector could not use private capital to seek to regulate Australian farmers and food production.
“That is not the job of a bank, it is ill-advised and calls to question whether Westpac is a genuine agricultural lender when they flex to the will of environmental lobby groups. If Australian banks want to influence farmers in this way then we should change the conditions of their banking licences.”
Westpac’s move comes after Labor’s Agricultural, Land and Emissions Discussion Paper foreshadowed policy directions that could further recklessly impact farming practices and create unfair and unworkable regulations as a result of their anti-farming agenda.
“Labor is already happy to see farmers lose prime agricultural land in favour of thousands of kilometres of poles and wires for energy transmission and renewables projects. Then they want to enforce our farmers to pay a biodiversity tax for the risks imposed by their importer rivals,” Dr Webster said.
“They have also recklessly signed Australian farmers up to a 30 per cent global methane reduction target by 2030 and started a free-for-all on locking up productive farmland through their so-called safeguard mechanism, which will see multi-national companies buying up massive tracts of Australia’s productive farmland to lock up as carbon offsets.”
Dr Webster said Labor had the wrong priorities for the nation, evidenced by a lack of regard for farming which will only exacerbate Australia’s cost-of-living crisis.
“Labor’s policies make farming less productive, which directly increases the price of fresh food at the checkout for families,” Dr Webster said.
“I am pleased to see this highlighted by the National Farmers’ Federation – headed by Wimmera farmer David Jochinke – with their Keep Farmers Farming campaign.
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) campaign launch, Keep Farmers Farming, highlighted the risk to Australia’s highly productive farmland and practices through a deteriorating domestic policy environment.
“The avalanche of bad policy from Labor threatens to force farmers to walk away which will decimate regional communities. Meanwhile the incompetent Federal Government watches on as the arrogance of the banking sector only adds to farmers’ struggles.”