A ground-breaking research project developing climate change resistant crops has been axed at the halfway point with the loss of 20 jobs in Tamworth and 10 in Wagga Wagga.
The $130 million partnership between the Perrottet and Morrison Governments was announced with much fanfare five years ago and has been successful in developing drought resistant crops.
As global warming takes hold winter crops like chickpeas, canola and wheat will need to be developed for NSW’s northern and southern cropping districts which can cope with high heat and low water.
But field scientists and technicians at the Grains Agronomy & Pathology Partnership (GAPP) have been told to clear out their desks by June 30 this year after the NSW Government pulled funds.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has traditionally shared research and development costs with the private sector however the Perrottet Government has recently warned about “overcommitting” to research projects.
It is believed Premier Perrottet and his National Party colleagues in the NSW Government want farmers to cough up more dough for research.
The decision beggar’s belief according to Troy Wright, Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA).
“We live in a sunburnt country which we know is getting more and more parched and this mob in Macquarie Street are pinching pennies,” says Troy Wright.
“Australian Government agencies using public money developed the hendra virus vaccine, BARLEYmaxTM an extra nutritious strain of barley, not to mention WIFI, Aeroguard, and contact lenses.
“Researchers shouldn’t have to beg for funds, imagine if nurses asked crook people for 50 bucks or police let victims of crime buy them lunch.
“Surely our farming industry isn’t going to suffer due to a power struggle between state and federal LNP governments and farmers over who’s going to pick up the tab for inventing global warming proof chickpeas, canola or rye?
“Our farmers and rural communities have suffered through droughts, fires, floods, and a global pandemic and this is the time Premier Perrottet wants to start playing chicken with the state’s agricultural future.
“With all this talk of grant money to the bush, this is the demonstration of a Government that gives with one hand and takes with the other.
“Both state and federal Agriculture Ministers David Littleproud and Dugald Saunders need to get in a room and nut this out so we keep research and jobs in the bush to ensure Australia’s farming future,” says Troy Wright, Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA).