Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Economic policy > The NFF doesn’t understand the difference between argument and abuse

The NFF doesn’t understand the difference between argument and abuse

February 6th, 2018

I can remember when the @NationalFarmers Federation was an intellectual force to be reckoned with. Now, its response to a detailed critique of the Murray Darling Basin Plan is lame abuse. It reminds me of this classic Monty Python skit

  1. David Allen
    February 6th, 2018 at 15:51 | #1

    “Intellectual force” is not a phrase that can be claimed by many nowadays. The world seems like a recopied VHS tape (look it up youngsters), every duplication slightly worse than before.

  2. Geoff Edwards
    February 6th, 2018 at 17:20 | #2

    NFF veered into confrontation advocacy of neoliberal reforms during the Donald McGauchie era. They are responsible in large part for the scorched earth free-trade agenda that Australia has pursued since the mid-1980s.

  3. ChrisH
    February 6th, 2018 at 18:49 | #3

    During the period of the Ralph review (the Review of Business Taxation), the CSIRO Rangelands team was investigating the effect of some primary-production tax provisions which made it tax advantaged to keep areas overstocked during drought.
    The CSIRO preliminary analysis suggested that these provisions never produced any overall tax advantage for any primary producer. The NFF was interested in supporting removal of the provisions.
    Final analysis identified that a small number of primary producers did get an overall tax advantage in some circumstances. So, although the tax provisions clearly produced land degradation, and disadvantaged many primary producers, the NFF refused to consider any support to remove or alter the tax provisions.
    The NFF combines force with farce.

  4. ZM
    February 6th, 2018 at 18:54 | #4

    I think the Murray River communities are being left behind, at least in Victoria.

    I also don’t think farmers are the only people in the communities up there. Some people are farmers, some people aren’t.

    I have talked to people from that area up North and they say that drugs have become a big problem in communities, that in good years farmers do well but that due to wider economic pressures farmers have begun to use more illegal labor particularly by migrants who are paid way below the award wages, and there are a lack of jobs.

    I have also talked to people from there that have given me the impression that just like the situation facing the Murray communities isn’t being communicated accurately in the media, many people in the Murray areas aren’t getting accurate information about what’s happening elsewhere in Victoria and Australia.

    Unfortunately this has led to a situation where some people in the North of Victoria who are left out of the information flow have begun to believe conspiracy theories, like that Agenda 21 is some devious One World Government plot, and that the government is doing experiments with chemtrails etc.

    Farmers have money (in good years) and probably have better access to information networks, than other people in the Murray River communities have.

    Kia, a brave young kayaker who travelled down the Murray in 2015, wrote this excellent blog on the Murray and its communities — The Rivermouth https://therivermouth.wordpress.com/about/

  5. February 6th, 2018 at 19:27 | #5

    It’s a hard life trying to be a river in Australia. Normally you need water.

  6. Henry Haszler
    February 6th, 2018 at 19:28 | #6

    @Geoff Edwards
    There was a time when the NFF had some serious analytic credibility, especially when one accounts for they fact the NFF is essentially a pro farm lobby group. But no credibility anymore.

  7. Paul Norton
    February 7th, 2018 at 08:16 | #7

    And the correct spelling is “publicly”, not “publically”.

  8. Paul Norton
    February 7th, 2018 at 08:20 | #8

    More substantially, beneath all the jargon there appears to be no attempt by the NFF to even pretend to engage with concerns about ecosystem health and sustainability – a major regression from the days of Rick Farley.

  9. J-D
    February 7th, 2018 at 09:52 | #9

    David Allen :
    “Intellectual force” is not a phrase that can be claimed by many nowadays. The world seems like a recopied VHS tape (look it up youngsters), every duplication slightly worse than before.

    My impression is that ‘intellectual force’ has never been a phrase that applied to many, and there’s nothing new about people substituting feeble abuse for reasoned argument.

  10. Smith
    February 7th, 2018 at 10:00 | #10

    The interesting question isn’t why the NFF are a bunch of knuckleheads now. It is how it came to be that they had thoughtful leadership in the past. The answer, maybe, is that policy debate back then was driven by ideas, and any organisation that wanted to be influential needed, at a minimum, leaders whose IQs were measured in three digits and who could speak and write whole sentences that contained more than a stream of incoherent ramblings and/or outright lies.

    Whereas today what passes for policy debate is driven by what’s trending on Twitter.

  11. Paul Norton
    February 7th, 2018 at 10:13 | #11

    Smith @10, I mentioned Rick Farley who was NFF Executive Director in the late 1980s. The political and policy influence which the Australian Conservation Foundation had acquired by that time, and the terms in which the Hawke Labor government was attempting to reframe environmental policy, required intelligent responses from other actors, and Farley was the right person at the right time to provide that for the NFF when it partnered with the ACF to promote Landcare.

  12. Smith
    February 7th, 2018 at 11:01 | #12

    @Paul Norton

    It’s a pity Farley died so young. He had a lot more to contribute.

  13. Svante
    February 7th, 2018 at 13:17 | #13

    @Paul Norton
    The NFF’s traditional links changed when the Labor government’s Accord kept rural wages (and all wages) below inflation and the government enthusiastically embraced eliminating the most unproductive elements in the rural sector. Rick Farley summarised: “The dividing line changed from National-Liberal versus Labor to the free marketeers versus everybody else”. And with scabs, dogs, and mercenaries down to the waterfront went the next NFF Executive Director Wendy Craik, NFF President Don McGauchie, Patrick Corporation MD Chris Corrigan, Peter Reith, and John Howard. You sink that low, you aint coming back.

  14. Alistair Watson
    February 8th, 2018 at 11:06 | #14

    IIRC, Rick Farley distanced himself from the NFF and its hangers on once he adopted a conciliatory approach towards the Native Title negotiations that followed the Mabo Decision. Less commendable was his support for expensive and nebulous proposals around at the time involving the NFF and ACF, which, in effect, would have further substituted the press release and grants-based funding for a disciplined approach to environmental remediation, with minimal benefit.

  15. Jim
    February 9th, 2018 at 08:12 | #15

    “The NFF doesn’t understand the difference between argument and abuse.”

    They do. They just can’t formulate a rational argument, so they resort to abuse.

    But put yourself in the NFF’s shoes. They represent and industry that virtually always produces financial returns that are well below the opportunity cost of capital employed, so clearly rational thinking is an alien concept for the industry in the first place.

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