Politicians of all persuasions, including acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, have descended on the north coast amid reports that Nationals MP Kevin Hogan’s seat of Page is under threat.
National party leader, Mr Joyce was in Lismore this morning, as was the deputy leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek.
Mr Joyce announced that $13.8 million would be spent on creating the National Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Co-operatives in the northern rivers.
‘This national pilot program is all about enabling farmers to come together, whether in co-operatives or less formal collaborations, and work to improve farmgate returns,’ Minister Joyce said.
‘Agricultural cooperatives allow farmers to own and control more of the food supply chain themselves—giving them greater bargaining power when it comes to negotiating with buyers of their produce.
‘The further you reach down the supply chain the better returns received at the farm gate—it’s that simple. It’s better for the farmer, and it’s better for local communities and the people who live and work there.’
Minister Joyce said the Lismore based Southern Cross University was perfectly positioned to deliver the cooperatives pilot program nationally because of the experience, expertise and links built up over recent years through its partnership with the Northern Rivers Cooperatives Alliance and Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers.
The Centre would deliver expert advice and information to up to 2000 farmers and 100 farmer groups across the nation.
It will be based at Southern Cross University in Lismore and draw on the expertise of the Northern Rivers Cooperative Alliance which comprises Norco, Northern Cooperative Meat Company, NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative, Clarence River and Ballina Fishermen’s cooperatives, Summerland Credit Union and Regional Development Australia.
Page MP Kevin Hogan welcomed the announcement, saying the northern rivers had some of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the country, so it made sense to locate the programme in theregion.
‘Improving the competitiveness of our farms helps farmers and creates new local jobs in agriculture,’ he said.
After functions in Lismore, Mr Joyce is due to visit Rockhampton and Gladstone in Queensland before flying back to Tamworth in his seat of New England tonight.
Meanwhile, Ms Plibersek is touring Southern Cross University with Labor’s candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin, who is hoping to wrest back the seat from Mr Hogan, who took it from her at the last Federal election in 2013.
Fairfax media has reported that up to 20 seats across the nation could fall to Labor if there is a uniform swing of 4 per cent against the government.
The seat of Page is listed as one of the seats that would likely fall, however election analysts are hedging their bets by saying that first time members could defy any swings because of the ‘sophomore surge’, which is a term used to describe MPs contesting their second election gaining an increase in their personal vote, even if their party suffers a swing away from them.
Mr Hogan told Echonetdaily that he was not surprised by the analysis.
‘Page is obviously a marginal seat and I like the fact it’s marginal. It’s always going to be a close race in Page,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester will be in Lennox Head at 10.30am to announce 2016-17 Black Spot Programme funding allocations for NSW.
Further north, the Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Rural Health Fiona Nash, of the Nationals, will be visiting Murwillumbah following an invitation from the Nationals candidate for Richmond, Matthew Fraser.
Minister Nash will be officially opening the Knox Park Youth Precinct which includes a revamped skate area, new play equipment and a multipurpose outdoor sports arena.
The Federal election is expected to be held in July this year.
Fairfax media has reported that up to 20 seats across the nation could fall Labor if there is a uniform swing of 4 per cent against the government.
The seat of Page is listed as one of the seats that would likely fall, however election analysts are hedging their bets by saying that fist time members could defy any swings because of the ‘sophomore surge’, which is a a term used to describe MPs contesting their second election gaining an increase in their personal vote, even if their party suffers a swing away from them.
More to come