Why can’t Australian farmers just say “no”? 252



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Last night’s Q&A was a gut-wrenching and inspiring hour of television. The people of Toowoomba were passionate, supportive and desperate for our government to right a terrible wrong.

But nobody in power seems to listening.

This month, farmer George Bender took his own life following a long, demoralising fight to protect his land from coal seam gas companies.

Last night his grieving daughter Helen joined the Q&A audience to ask the question live on air: why aren’t Australia’s farmers allowed to simply say “no”?

Neither federal politician on the panel offered a clear or satisfactory answer.

Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon suggested coal seam gas was a “state issue”, largely talking around the answer by pointing out that coal seam gas companies were enormously important to the country.

Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash offered her personal belief that this was emphatically wrong: “That is my view, I was asked for my view on this and that is my view. If anybody puts themselves in the position of being a farmer on a piece of land, to not have the right to say no, in my view, is wrong”, she said.

However, she repeated the sentiment that this was, in fact, a state issue.

Singer Katie Noonan, another panellist, called out both politicians. She accused Fitzgibbon of giving a “cop out” answer, and suggested Nash, as Rural Health Minister, should be treating this as a health emergency.

Helen Bender, clearly distraught throughout the discussion, was asked how she felt about the response. She gave the following impassioned plea:

 “One of the last things my father said: ‘No one is listening, why are you wasting my time?”

“I don’t think anyone is listening… I don’t think the nation is listening, I don’t think any one of you politicians care. You are a turntable, you walk in, walk out, you talk the talk, you are here for show. You are not listening.”

Do you agree with these powerful words? What will it take for things to finally change? Why isn’t Australia doing more to protect its farmers?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. And one comment about the kids bleeding noses wasn’t even discussed what a great health minister we have

  2. This is so sad. The farmers of this country kept this country going for decades. Where is their help now they need it and those politicians should be ashamed of themselves. Helen my heart goes out to you.

    1 REPLY
  3. Can anybody explain how much the gov gets out of this mess that has been created by multinational company’s walking all over our farmers

  4. well im 68 and i cant remember any one ever in Goverment doing any thing for Farmers

    9 REPLY
    • Meanwhile I know of Qld farmers with their cattle dieing due to lack of water. I have not forgotten Anna Bligh piping water from North Qld to the South, then Campbell Newman jumps in and talks about the waste of money because we had floods for one year. Well here we are the pipeline not finished and we are facing draughts again. Time to kick these fools out both LNP and ALP, don’t care enough for the people

    • I worked on the Burdiken Dam. 3 times the size of. Sydney harbour water comes down from top of Aust fills it up then the water was going to be sent all over. The place from there. So what’s happend. To the water.

    • Well that pipeline wasn’t completed and now we have farmers without feed for their cattle. It’s time to think about our children’s future and it’s not in gas or coal, but water and our food bowl is very important.

  5. It’s all about money, that’s why no-one listening. Don’t the stupid drongos realize who feeds them?? Yes that right the farmers. The Riverina is also a mess now can’t anything just about straight off the farms.

  6. She was great and they had no answers these politicians to much money in it they won’t do anything about it and that goes for both parties. It’s amazing how gas takes precedence over health and food and clean air and water.

  7. My deepest sympathy to the family.

    This is a true indication of how useless the National party is as a coalition party, they have no say and carry no clout. They would be much better off being true to their electorate and standing up for them.

  8. Governments first deserted the farming sector when the Country Party became theNationals and were completely ignored when the Nats got into bed with the Libs.The result of all this is this.

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