Rebuilding trust with farmers is critical for new head of Climate Change Authority

NSW Farmers is urging the new head of the Climate Change Authority not to forget the critical importance of agriculture in feeding the future.

This week Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed that Matt Kean, former NSW treasurer and energy minister, would now head the Climate Change Authority.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said the announcement was concerning to those in rural communities who were still dealing with the consequences of Mr Kean’s decisions as minister.

“Under Mr Kean’s tenure there was a lack of genuine engagement and practical planning for the early stages of the renewable energy transition,” Mr Martin said.

“This is a critical time for the Climate Change Authority to ensure that in the transition we have certainty for energy into the future – and at the same time no net loss to food production security, contrary to the Paris Agreement.

“We recognise the importance of a sustainable and reliable electricity supply, but also the importance of a future food supply.”

Renewables presented both opportunities and challenges for agricultural production, so getting the balance right was critical, Mr Martin said.

“People want the lights on, but they also want food on the dinner table,” he said.

“Agricultural land provides a net positive outcome in absorbing the carbon dioxide emitted from cities, transport, and other heavy emission industries, and in the process we produce food and fibre to feed and clothe the nation, so clearly there’s a need to engage with farmers.

“Ultimately, anything that makes it harder for farmers to grow healthy plants and healthy animals to feed our nation will have an impact on every Australian.”

Mr Martin said there had been positive signs from the current NSW Government to work more collaboratively on addressing the challenges and reduce land conflict impacts.

“New energy sources are needed as coal-fired power stations are switched off, which means we need leadership that can work proactively with communities so they are not left worse off as a result,” Mr Martin said.

“Simply ‘turning off’ productive land to compensate for high emission businesses, or restricting the viability of farms through poor policies or planning will only deliver cold and hungry masses.

“Rebuilding trust with farmers and their communities is critical, and NSW Farmers policies set out the need for everyone to work together to create a way forward to protect and support farm production, contribute to stronger regions, and deliver a fair and balanced energy future.”