I’m out over the ocean now, heading towards the southern tip of India, which seems like a slightly strange time to be reading about Trevor William Nye, a man whose slogan is ‘Buy back the farm’.
I feel like we are getting a lot of rural independents all of a sudden. I wonder if this is a reflection on the National Party and how it is being perceived to represent (or not represent) rural voters.
My name is Trevor William Nye, and I’m committed to making your voice heard in the Senate. Like you, I want to play an active role in making our community, state and country a safer, better place to raise our children, run our businesses, and forge a future filled with promise.
His values are:
- that he cares
- integrity matters
- true representation – service above self
- honesty is a given
- working together for the common good
He is frustrated that politicians are not listening to what the public is saying, and feels that the Senate needs to be a house of review, including members of smaller parties and independents, so that the coalition, Labor and the Greens cannot just sell off the country willy-nilly. We will be hearing more about this shortly.
Nye’s background is in education, and talks a bit about the values of hard work, persistence and honesty. These are all good things in themselves, but I hope it’s not going to make him decide that people who are unemployed are all just bludgers.
In a refreshing change from most of today’s batch of independents, instead of having dozens of single-sentence policies, Mr Nye has just a handful of pretty detailed ones.
The first of these is Stopping Foreign Ownership. Mr Nye is very concerned about foreign ownership, particularly of agricultural land, quoting a figure of 35% foreign ownership of the Northern Territory’s rural sector. This is an interesting number and I am dubious about his mathematics. He points out that we don’t have a lot of agricultural land available to us, given our deserts, urban sprawl, national parks, and indigenous-owned land (I get a slight feeling of disapproval of him for the last two categories, but I might be projecting unfairly), and wants to ban all foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land. This sounds reasonable to me. He wants to take a ‘stocktake’ of foreign-owned land, and for land to only be leased to foreign owners in future. But in the meantime, presumably, we need to ‘buy back the farm’. He is also opposed to foreign water ownership. I’m entirely with him so far.
Speaking of farms, and of regional development, Mr Nash has some pretty extensive policies in this area.
He is concerned about lack of services, infrastructure, employment and business opportunities in regional areas, and about withdrawal of services such as roads, railway lines (not repaired after damage), post offices and schools, and comments that once you start losing these things, you start to lose your town. He is especially concerned about access to healthcare and wants no Victorian to be more than 100km away from high quality healthcare. I’m taken aback by this distance – Victoria isn’t that large, by Australian standards, and I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to get that far from healthcare in our state. But perhaps the emphasis here is on high quality?
Mr Nye was involved in developing the forerunner of the Economic Development Units, and wants to expand on the current network. He wants regional economic centres, which will be hubs for all sorts of other health, transport and education services, and have them staffed and run by local people with government assistance. He wants to work with local Economic development officers to capitalise on local strengths – ‘it is local knowledge that will drive regional growth’ – and he wants better access to the legislature for regional Australians to help cut red tape. And regional business incubators to encourage generation of jobs.
Mr Nye wants 10% of superannuation funds to be invested in the agricultural sector and regional Australia, and potentially used to ‘buy back the farm’, and he also wants 10% of our Future Fund to be invested in this sector.
He wants a Senate review (not quite a drink, which is good, because I’d be asleep in my plate of airline ratatouille) of the agricultural sector, with reference to the aforementioned foreign ownership of farmland, but also to retail duopolies putting pressure on producers to reduce their sale prices below cost. He also wants a review of each region to tailor funding to the needs of that region, and to look at regional development over a ten-year cycle, that is not linked to electoral cycles. He also wants increased funding into education in the agricultural sector.
Mr Nye points out that regional development will take time, and is not a single-election-cycle issue – but we have to start somewhere.
Mr Nye wants to abolish the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan. One day, I will understand what this is. He also wants to create an infrastructure fund to buy back water rights. He wants more dams, and more hydro-electric power, and is generally concerned about water conservation, and wants to increase water recycling. And he wants better water grids. I have a feeling that there are environmental implications to some of these policies that are less than ideal, but this is not my area of expertise. (Do I even have an area of expertise? Doubtful.)
Mr Nye is apparently a firm believer in education, which is certainly a good thing since apparently he has worked for much of his life in this sector! He is pro-Gonski, and wants targeted funding, with a base amount per student, with extra funding resources for regional and rural schools (he proposes cluster schools sharing specialist resources as one model), pre-school, special needs education and indigenous students, tailoring funding to the needs of the child. This sounds good, but potentially difficult to administer.
On immigration and refugees, Mr Nye is a little on the fence. He wants a ‘mature and rational immigration debate’ on immigration, and is ‘for strong borders, but not against immigration’. He does seem to want to reduce immigration into Australia, but I think his numbers for humanitarian immigration are on the low side. He does at least mention support structures for new arrivals, but he also mentions offshore detention and turning back the boats. I get the sense that he hasn’t really got a strong opinion on any of this.
Essentially, Mr Nye looks to me like an old school National Party candidate, back when they were actually good at representing country Australia. His policies would certainly benefit people in regional areas and farmers, and he has a good point about foreign ownership of farmland (a point that seems to be shared by many, so perhaps the Government should think about this). I’m not sure whether the wider effects of his policies would be particularly good for the environment, and he looks to be a little on the socially-conservative side, though his policies on education are pretty sensible and progressive.
What a pity we no longer have a major political party capable of pushing these sorts of policies…