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Foreign farm subsidies hurting Aussie farmers

Crikey readers talk asylum seekers on Manus Island, the reality for Australian farmers, the gender pay gap and why Wills and Kate might be doing our air force a favour.

Up in the air with the royals

Tom Torday, a former flight lieutenant, writes: Re. “Royal rates: what you’ll pay for Will and Kate’s Aussie adventure” (Friday). I am as republican as the next leftie, but it should be remarked that RAAF units, such as the VIP Flight, must do a minimum hours per month in the air. The royal flights will count towards this and are therefore not quite as extravagant as they are made out!

The real gender pay gap

Phillipa Smyth writes: Re. “Get Fact: do men make much more than women for the same job?” (Friday). I am infuriated, having just read your Get Fact article on whether a gender pay gap exists. Talk about missing the point with lies, damn lies and statistics.

The point that should be made is not that “women choose lower paid fields to work in”. The point is that these fields are lower paid because they were traditionally women’s work. Traditional “female” jobs have always been valued less than those dominated by men.

Job for job, there may be some consistency in pay, but until we start to value the different but critical skills that women bring into the workforce, we will have a very real gender pay gap.

Godwin’s law does not always apply

David A Penington writes: Re. “Razer’s Class Warfare: death the inevitable result of our asylum seeker policy” (Thursday). Helen Razer is wrong on history as well as wrong to imply comparisons with Nazi concentration camps.

The majority of trains of prisoners to Belsen were late in the war and were treated as the lowest priority on the German railway network, being parked whenever it was not convenient for the train to use the rail lines, sometimes for days without food or water. That will have made their arrival at Belsen quite unpredictable. “As predictable as … the arrival of the trains at Belsen” is pretty unpredictable. Linking these atrocities to the cruelty on Manus Island grossly underplays the immense Nazi evil.

In 1941-42 about 3 million Soviet prisoners of war were taken in eight months; 2.8 million of them died in German custody in that period. At Belsen, 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 50,000 other people died. Some 14,000 of them died after being liberated, out of the about 53,000 alive at liberation.

For farmers, playing field is never level

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “For farmers, drought not the most dangerous predator on the horizon” (Friday). It does not seem to matter whether Australian farmers are trying to deal with a Labor or a Coalition government, they keep being told there are level playing fields out there, no matter whether they are growing/manufacturing food for consumption in Australia or for export overseas. This attitude of successive governments is led by their respective noses by the Milton Friedman-obsessed Productivity Commission.

Australian farmers have know for decades that the US subsidises its farmers — yet ours refuses to do so. That fresh produce and manufactured food items can be brought into Australia, regardless of the cost of transport, to undercut the price of local produce and manufactured items says to me that there has to be a subsidy somewhere. If this keeps going, aided and abetted by the economic mantra of successive governments, do we risk a future where our food producers, of meat, fruit, vegetables, whether fresh or manufactured, go under and we are left at the mercy, political and economic, of transnational food controllers and other governments who are quite happy not to provide level playing fields on which our food producers can compete?

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  • 1
    JohnB
    Posted Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    That which Shirley Colliss says is well worth a “fact check”. I certainly agree with her statement, but why not calibrate it against a bit of research? Then I could base my dislike of American and European agricultural subsidy in good solid fact, rather than, as at present, only opinion.

  • 2
    Kevin_T
    Posted Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    John B. Just Google US Farm Subsidies and you will get an idea of the extent of the subsidies, and the ease of applying for them.

    The European Union has CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) which has implemented farm subsidies since 1962.

    Australian and New Zealand farms are rated as the least subsidised in the OECD. The benefit of this is that we actually produce efficient farming techniques in order to stay competitive - major droughts and “dumping” not withstanding.

  • 3
    JohnB
    Posted Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Kevin_T. AUstralian farmers are essentially frozen out of many markets, and many governments have failed in their duty to protect them when signing on to so-called “free trade agreements” which selectively permit destruction of our primary industries while exposing our less efficient manufacturing industries to the cheaper labour and other costs which apply in other countries.

    We have been had.

    What I was suggesting was a review of this from a broader perspective than just a US farm subsidy act or the EU CAP.

    Crikey has not been active in this fertile (pun intended) area.

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