National Party fails farmers. John Menadue

May 3, 2013

Warren Truss and Barnaby Joyce have allowed the National Party to be dragged along at the heels of the Liberal Party on climate change and other issues. What was it that Tony Abbott said about climate change being ‘bullshit’? Australian farmers particularly in Western Australia are now paying the price of failed leadership by the National Party.

Last week the government announced measures to assist distressed farmers who face drought, a strong dollar and other difficulties. Particular mention was made of farmers in the south-west of Western Australia.

Evidence keeps coming that the drought in Western Australia is more than a normal drought – it is man-made and the result of climate change. Consider the evidence and views of the experts on this question.

  • The Australian Climate Commission said very recently ‘Western Australia, particularly the south-west, is vulnerable to climate change. Rainfall patterns in WA have changed over the last forty years. There is significant evidence that climate change has contributed to the marked drying trend in the south-west of the state. This has had serious implications for urban water supplies and agriculture. Sea levels along the west coast of Australia have been rising at more than double the global average. With a significant part of the population living in coastal cities and towns, rising sea levels pose significant risks … ‘.
  • Professor Ross Kingwell of the University of Western Australia’s School of Agricultural and Resource Economics said in the Australian Financial Review on May 1 2013 that ‘in the 1900s the (south-west) region enjoyed a wet year about one out of every two years. This has diminished significantly since the 1970’s”.
  • A senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Blair Trewin, told the AFR that ‘The biggest driver in the rainfall declines is long-term climate change.’
  • Dr Wenju Cai, a research scientist at CSIRO, said that the long-term deprival of rain in WA’s south-west represents one of the strongest examples anywhere in the world of the impact of human induced climate change on a region.

Australia has always had to deal with drought. But it is now becoming clear that climate change is playing an increasing and long-term role in affecting the livelihood of many farmers, particularly in WA. I wonder what questions farmers are asking Warren Truss and Barnaby Joyce about their failure to join in a national and international effort to minimise global warming. If only they had done that instead of playing politics on the issue we would all have made more progress.

John Menadue


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