Albo promised to change Australian politics, and environmental policy under Minister Plibersek will certainly change from the Coalition's obfuscating playbook.
That is why the bush needs to take careful note of the latest environment report that describes serious neglect and decline of environmental outcomes over the past decade.
While Australian agriculture has downplayed environmental issues and talk up its environmental credentials, the most recent report shreds that position in public and political eyes.
Unfortunately these are the lenses through which the next iteration of environmental policies will be drafted.
We need to urgently and carefully change the Australian agricultural narrative around climate and environment.
Australian agriculture is bigger than farms and farmers. The domestic and international importance of maintaining Australian agricultural production must be front and centre of all political conversations.
That said, we need to honestly acknowledge the gap between our environmental aspirations and our environmental trajectory.
It is time for a full and frank discussion about what society expects from agriculture and what those expectations really cost.
Agricultural markets still fail to honestly recognise or factor in the true cost of production and this failure in turn flows through to unrealistic consumer expectations of cost of food. This societal expectation around food as a human right belies the consumer's complicity in agricultural production systems.
This is a particularly tricky conversation to navigate in the midst of global inflation and the associated cost of living pressures.
In a similar context, the discussion around agricultural emissions frequently misses the point that agricultural emissions are calculated in whole of lifecycle terms that include consumption.
Resulting popular and incorrect assumptions include: agricultural production emissions intensity is discretionary; and that farmers are solely responsible for, and therefore solely responsible for addressing, agricultural emissions.
These assumptions bely an even more direct societal complicity to agricultural environmental outcomes.
Addressing these and related issues relies on fostering a much greater understanding of the interconnectedness of agriculture in a society that is increasingly disconnected with farms and farming.
It is essential that consumers understand how they collectively influence agricultural markets and in turn how this influences production systems.
At the same time farmers need to stop ignoring the true nature of their impact on the landscape. There are real issues in our production systems that need to be addressed if we are going to deliver a noble legacy.
The most recent reports of climate and environment mean that a business as usual approach to agriculture is unsustainable and unlikely.
The real challenge now is that the resources required to address the plethora of environmental issues facing Australian agriculture already exceeds the current pool.
This is where the conversation needs to focus.
It is clear that the market isn't going to fund the environment at the checkout. Perhaps it is time to simplify and increase the GST with a specific portion earmarked for climate and environment funding that reflects the universal responsibility and benefit of proaction.
Time will tell if Albo is serious about really changing politics by being courageous and honest about the universal importance of a sustainable Australian agricultural enterprise.
- Peter Mailler is a grain and cattle farmer on the NSW/Queensland border.
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