Critical Industry Cluster status should be assessed for other industries

MEDIA RELEASE – 26 August 2014

The Greens NSW agriculture spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today called on the Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, to re-open the Critical Industry Cluster assessment process to new industries such as dairy, citrus growers, rice and sugar, after the minister all but admitted that granting Critical Industry Cluster status to thoroughbred breeders and viticulture was a political fix to quieten opposition in the Hunter region.

At Budget Estimates hearings last week, the minister admitted that there would be no more Strategic Regional Land Use Plans, and that any further consideration of Critical Industry Cluster status would have to wait until ‘Regional Growth Plans’ were developed sometime in the future.

“It is unfair that certain industries have missed out on even being considered for Critical Industry Cluster status simply because the government is chopping and changing its planning regimes.  The minister ought to set up an assessment process for Critical Industry Cluster status now, so that industries can have some certainty and protection, and will be ready to be included in future planning documents,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Critical Industry Cluster status is a great policy for protecting clusters of agriculture and their associated infrastructure and skills base.  The government should set up an assessment process with a clear set of criteria, so that other industries can apply and be provided with protection from disruption by mining or gas exploration.

“Citrus growers, rice farmers, the dairy industry and others have all expressed interest in being assessed for critical industry status.  Minister Hodgkinson should tell these industries why they do not deserve the same level of protection as the studs and wineries of the Hunter?

The Strategic Regional Land Use Policy was the signature policy for the Coalition to deal with land use conflict.  It’s clear that this policy has been compromised to the point where the government is walking away from it.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


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