Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance has attacked the Liberal candidate for Blackwood-Stirling, Wade De Campo, for making false claims about the level of agricultural research being conducted in the State.
In an article published in the Manjimup Bridgetown Times on May 21, it was claimed that ‘no new money was allocated to agriculture in the State Budget’ and Mr De Campo was quoted as saying: ‘The Government now needs to place a value on food security and provide adequate funding for new research’.
Mr Chance said in fact, the Government allocated $158million in new money to agriculture in the State Budget, including $68.5million to regional projects, many of which were research-based.
In the article, Mr De Campo also stated that ‘no new business research had been done at the Manjimup Horticultural Institute for the past five years’ and he believed it was highly unlikely any would occur in the near future.
The Minister said this was totally wrong and as Mr De Campo was also the Manjimup Shire president, he should have a much better understanding of the research being undertaken at his local horticultural institute.
Mr Chance said if Mr De Campo had bothered to check the facts before commenting, he would have discovered that numerous new projects had started at the Manjimup Horticultural Institute in recent years including:
· the bulk bin shipment project on Pink Lady apple started this May-June 2008 to look at reducing packing costs and improve profitability;
· a project started in 2007 to evaluate a number of new potato varieties and to look at developing a competitive seed potato export industry;
· a new development officer would start work soon on sustainable new vegetable production systems, such as the summer lettuce production for processing and alternative vegetable brassica crops such as broccoli; and
· it was also expected that a development officer would soon be appointed to support the fast expanding avocado industry.
In addition, there were two new externally funded projects, the New Futures project and the Greener Pastures project. Both of these started in 2005-2006. Funding was approximately $450,000 over a three-year period with possible further extension:
· the New Futures project was facilitating the development of new opportunities for the area such as green tea, apricots, cool climate citrus, native flowers and summer lettuce. Observation trials on navel oranges and native flowers were evaluating production and quality of these crops at MHRI; and
· the Greener Pastures project aimed to develop a sustainable and profitable dairy industry in the South-West.
These projects were in association with Horticulture Australia Ltd, and Dairy Australia.
Mr Chance has also written a complaint letter to the editor of the Manjimup Bridgetown Times, asking for an explanation as to why a Liberal candidate is able to present such false claims without the newspaper even bothering to attempt political balance by seeking comment from the Government.
“This defies the basic principles of ethical journalism and presents inaccurate information to the public,” the Minister said.
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