The Federal Labor Government has scrapped the National Soils Advocate and cut funding to programs that previously had bipartisan support.
Federal Member for Groom, Garth Hamilton said the decision showed that Labor had its eyes and ears closed to the people of rural and regional Australia.
“Labor has turned its back on the regions and on the agriculture industry which is so critical to our rural economy, jobs and Australia’s food security.
“In government, the Coalition set up the National Soil Strategy and committed $196.9 million.
“We were prepared to invest in securing our soils because we know the imperative for those on the land, the environment, the economy and our food.
“This was about real, practical solutions on the ground – prioritising improving soil health and strengthening knowledge and capability of those working with our natural soil,” Mr Hamilton said.
The National Soil Strategy, released in May 2021, is Australia’s first national policy on soil. It set out how Australia will value, manage, and improve its soil for the next 20 years.
Mr Hamilton said after 18 months in office, Labor needed to deliver on determining who or what would replace the National Soils Advocate, with the Hon Penelope Wensley AC, having now finished her term.
The May Budget included $56 million to implement the National Soil Action Plan, $36 million of which came from the Natural Heritage Trust which already undertakes some work on soils
Labor redirected $11.7 million from the National Soils Strategy to ‘other priorities
Labor previously secretly cut the innovative $54 million Soil Monitoring Incentives Program (SMIP), using the excuse of flooding.
Established under the former Coalition Government, the SMIP provided landholders with up to $275 per soil sampling site – capped at $10,000 per business – in exchange for sharing the information with a national soil database, to help inform the development of future policy.