Why Donations Won’t Fix the Plight of Australian Farmers

The immediate needs of farming families are obvious. Feed to keep stock alive, someway of holding onto their farms under the stand-over tactics of some banks, and Rain. Donations can fix the immediate short term to an extent but they cannot fix the long term trajectory. That requires difficult conversations and an acceptance of the reality.

There are only three sectors in Australia that get consistent subsidies and support from the Australian Government – Farming, Mining and Banking. The Banking Guarantee given by Australian Taxpayers saved them from the worst of a financial meltdown that engulfed others around the world. And the thanks we’ve gotten as the Royal Commission has shown, is conduct blatantly criminal and in my videw, Directors ought to be jailed. The subsidies given to the Mining sector in the form of exploration and development support run into the billions. And the thanks we get for that is a failure to repatriate mine sites, gas being sent off shore so that we don’t even access our own resources without being gouged, and environmental degradation so vast, we can no longer farm on land.

Which brings us to Farming. I’ve said frequently that Australia needs to decide if it wants to #EatOrExtract because it cannot do both. Once used for extraction, land CANNOT be used for food production. Mines and fracking also use so much water that allowing them to occur on or near farm lands exacerbates the current drought conditions. So let’s have that Eat or Extract conversation because without it, we cannot start to address the plight of Australian Farmers.

And following that conversations (or perhaps simultaneously if we have the guts to do so) we need to have the more difficult conversation. What is the best use of the water we have in Australia?

Last year I was invited to Byron Bay by a Private Equity firm, to talk to a number of Private Equity organisations at a delightfully run conference. I discussed emerging issues and opportunities. And as part of that chat I said that growing Cotton in Australia should be banned. As there were one or two investors in cotton, they pushed back from the floor as was their right to do so. It allowed us to expand on my observation – I stated that the issue wasn’t cotton, it was water and that arguing that an abundance is the time to grow missed the point because we’ve been draining aquifers for years and abundance of water (those rare occasions) ought to be when we allow aquifers to refil.

Climate Change is real, droughts (and floods) will get worse. But INSIDE the farming community, we need to talk about what products get the water we have. Investors will say ‘greatest return’. But that’s a silo approach that time and again does not work. We know it doesn’t work because time and again the Australian Taxpayer and or individiuals are implored to donate to supporting Farmers. So either we take the investment approach and let the business of farming face the consequences of the market conditions (which means allowing them to fail when they cannot run their business in the conditions they face, like many other businesses in other sectors do every day of the week) OR we accept that farming is a critical piece of Australia’s society (which is it) and that a systemic approach needs to occur.

In Australia, that means a DELIBERATE allocation of water USE. Not water ‘rights’, water USE.

As I recommended in my Masters Thesis looking at water issues around the Globe, that means water is allocated to those farming products that produce the greatest benefit for the LOWEST use of water. Cotton should NEVER be grown in Australia. We do not have the water to be able to do so. Grow it where there is a consistent abundance of water and Australia is just not the place. In my mind the water allocation goes to food first, from lowest use per kilo produced, to highest use per kilo produced. After food you have a toss up between fibres and construction. So you have Hemp v Cotton – no brainer – Hemp wins by the length of the Nullabor. You have Bamboo versus Pine trees – Bamboo wins by the length of Bass Straight, you have Aquaponds versus Beef and so on.

The Plight of the Australian Farmer is exacerbated by Climate Change. But the sector also needs to confront its own reality in this plight. What type of Farm Product and what type of Farming method should get access to our ever shrinking supplies of fresh water?

The Future of Workplaces

Jul 10, 2024

Tomorrow morning (Friday the 12th)  I’ll be joining Elizabeth Kulas on Disrupt Radio discussing the Future Of Workplaces. There’ll be a particular focus on why most organisations choose to struggle because they rely on outdated models of employee management. A 7.15am kick-off where, in about 7 minutes or so, I’ll try to distill 20 years…

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A New Form of Goal Directed Intelligence

Jun 28, 2024

It’s extremely rare that I post to a specific article and say ‘go read this’, which is what I’m doing today. This article on goal directed intelligence at a micro level is a challenge to read. And I do recommend you read it because it pushes forward our understanding of how our biology and arguably…

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Looking Up Feeling Good Partners with Steel Chicks

Mar 10, 2024

If you followed my numerous posts over the years you know I like jumping in early on new products or services – not all have been successful, especially on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but you roll the dice sometimes and see what happens. Over the years Looking Up Feeling Good was an early community investor in…

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Dragging Workplaces back to the 1760s – the Work In Office Dilemma and the Productivity Myth

Feb 16, 2024

In the 1760s Josiah Wedgwood changed forever the nature of workplaces. He expanded his pottery business and constructed a new large scale factory that required two critical elements: a) Systemisation of processes to ensure consistent high-quality outcomes b) Skilled workers on site The systemisation required experimentation, observation, trials, failures and recording of data – what…

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Dr Kim Hazendonk joins our Speaker’s group

Jan 18, 2024

We’re delighted to announce that Neuro-Psychologist Dr. Kim Hazendonk of Positive Brain has accepted our offer to join our elite speaker’s group. We’re looking forward to bringing her to more groups across Australasia as she discusses effective workplaces, positive mind management, and managing busy lives. If you have a need for an engaging and passionate…

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Embracing the Hybrid Workspace – are You there yet?

Nov 15, 2023

I flag my bias towards the need for a vastly improved approach to managing staff in the work environments. V A S T L Y improved. I’m still surprised at how clunky, disorganised or naive some senior managers are when it comes to that part of the business that considers ‘people’. And rather than cover…

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Exploring Strategy Development – the Organisational Evolution model

Oct 17, 2023

An interesting public workshop in Perth in the first week of October introducing a varied group to the Organisational Evolution model. The Org-Ev is the model I developed for the start up of The Australian Strategic Planning Institute in conjunction with Steven Bowman. Given the diversity of the group, there were a number of surprises…

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Perth workshop 5th October almost fully booked

Sep 18, 2023

A note for those of you in Perth that there are just 4 spaces left for the Introduction to the Organisational Evolution Model workshop at Adina Apartments in Perth.  The Org Ev model has been designed to enhance Strategic Planning and decision making and this introductory workshop is aimed at those looking to attend the…

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Delving into Heatwave Scenarios

Sep 12, 2023

Later this month I’ll be facilitating a scenario session looking at the potential impact of a long standing heatwave event for the City of Greater Dandenong here in Australia. Heatwaves kill more people than any other weather event. By a long way. Importantly they also have a ‘fat tail’ with physical impairments to individuals often…

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Introduction to the Organisational Evolution Model workshop in Perth

Sep 9, 2023

Looking Up Feeling Good will be running an workshop on the Organisational Evolution Model in Perth. The Org-Ev model has been used by a wide number of agencies across almost all industry sectors, and was originally developed for the Australian Strategic Planning Institute. The workshop is limited to 25 people and will take place at…

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