Tasmania. The Future Breadbasket for the Nation.

The Howard government is warning that the largest agricultural regions of Australia are in dire straits due to what is being recognised as permanent drought. There is little or no water available for irrigation. The nation's food production industry is facing very serious problems. Not only will it mean a big fall in exports, it could cause real food supply shortages in Australia. Importing from China is NOT the answer! Prices for staples are already soaring - in part due to moving existing crop production into ethanol - a lunatic direction that will bring on global starvation. On the other hand, one region of the country with much more reliable rainfall, that has the water supplies (if used wisely) to continue producing food, is Tasmania. So how bizarre is it that the Howard government is using taxpayer's dollars to provide massive tax write-offs to wealthy city investors through MIS (managed investment schemes), to buy up prime agricultural land for conversion to chemically dependent plantation monocultures? It goes without saying that the land sought by the plantation industry is where the rainfall is highest! And guess what! The plantation corporations get the water for their trees for nothing! Already, this has created havoc with Tasmania's hydrology. Countless once permanent streams that farmers could rely upon - even in the worst droughts of the past - have now dried up through summers and autumns. Add to this the relentless pressures on farmers from the constant push towards globalisation. Then there is state legislation that further facilitates the push for conversion to plantations. No wonder many farmers are looking to get out! Too often their children can see no hope of a viable future. Surely this is utter lunacy? Given the clear writing on the mainland wall, governments should be bending over backwards to ensure the retention of all productive farmland in regions that are reasonably assured of good rainfall. The Gunns pulp mill can only exacerbate this problem. Not only will the scale of clearfell slash and burn of natural forests increase - so too will the scale of conversion of farming land to plantations. A recent announcement by Forestry Tasmania that henceforth, no natural forest will be converted to plantations, will further ramp up the demand for conversion of farming land. We, as citizens of this land, must demand of our governments that we produce at least enough food to feed ourselves. To be actively creating a situation where Australians could be dependent upon imported food to survive is madness. In fact, this could well be considered to be an act of treachery against the people of this nation. MIS funded conversion of productive farmland here in Tasmania must cease! Active support and encouragement for Tasmanian food producers must begin! No longer should Tasmania be seen as the plantation state. Tasmania must be seen as the future breadbasket for the nation!

Paul de Burgh-Day
Box 132 Sheffield Tasmania 7306 Australia