April 24th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Islamic militants threaten to derail Iraq hand-over

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Defence reserves crisis looms

FAMILY: AFA report shoots hole in lower fertility theory

National superannuation (letter)

Whither farming? (letter)

True samurais (letter)

UNITED NATIONS: Kofi Annan and the Rwanda genocide

FAMILY: The solution to today's fatherhood crisis

FEEDING TUBES: Pope condemns 'euthanasia by omission'

BOOKS: The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit, by A.J. Conyers

COVER STORY: Federal inquiry puts brakes on river flow plans

COVER STORY 2: Report vindicates farmers over Murray-Darling Basin

EDITORIAL: Family Congress confronts new challenges

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Budget - next test for Federal Government

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Pumpernickel politics / Latham's folly / George Carey

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Whither farming? (letter)

by Warren Roche

News Weekly, April 24, 2004

Patrick Byrne's excellent article (News Weekly, March 27) on the situation in the sugar industry, and his observations affecting other rural industries, as well as the possible political consequences, were a very sober analysis and warning on the effects of the National Competition Policy (NCP).

The aggressive reforms enforced by this body with the authority and endorsement of the Federal Government have now severely threatened the viability of a number of rural industries and further weakened the sustainability of the Australian family farm.

It could be added that the problems and difficulties confronting farmers and producers as a consequence of deregulation and NCP have been compounded by the timidity and silence - one could add betrayal - of peak farmer organisations, the NFF and various state farmer associations, and the trusting political innocence of many of the producer organisations.

The National Party has sold itself to many of its senior coalition masters, with the hope that its cosy existence will last a while longer.

Farmers have few friends in high places. The trade union movement has demonstrated on many occasions that with good organisation and with disciplined united action much can be achieved. Yet trade unions and farmer organisations today suffer from the same modern disease as political parties, with many of their leaders now infected with opportunist and self-seeking tendencies.

The National Party, like some of the farmer producer groups detailed in the Byrne article, will be knocked off one by one, until there is nothing left to resist or bargain with.

Colin Teese's article in the same News Weekly takes a very solemn look at the flawed implication of the Australian-US Free Trade Agreement. At the same time, senior ministers of the National Party and leaders of peak farmer organisations indulge in shameless hype and false expectation with their constituents. Thomas Hobbes warned: "Hell is truth seen too late."

Warren Roche,
Wauchope, NSW

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