Australian Left Review

Authors

Geoff Lawrence

Abstract

It came as something of a surprise to this author when, towards the end oflast year, the Deputy Director of the Australian Wheat Board, Mr. Michael Shanahan, told farmers to "get down on their knees" and beg tbe government for assiftance. This advice goes against the grain - iC you 11 excuse the pun - of current economic wisdom and represents a direct challenge to the policies of the National Farmers' Federation (NFF). The NFF's line on subsidisation is unambiguous and uncompromisin_g. The way to create a lean, productive and Internationally competitive agriculture is for Australian farmers to become more efficient and to abandon their traditional demands for state intervention in agriculture. Emciency can only be achieved, it is asserted, if farmers are progressively exposed to free-market forces. Government actions both at home and abroad are viewed negatively - as distorting price signals and creating barriers to international trade.

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