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Your views: on Ann-Marie Smith, barley tariffs and GM crops

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on responsibility for a disabled woman’s care, China’s 80 per cent barley tariff, and genetically modified crops for SA.

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Commenting on the story: Federal inquiry call into Ann-Marie Smith’s death

As the inaugural Principal Community Visitor of the South Australian Community Visitor Scheme, it is disappointing that Premier Marshall did not acknowledge the reduction in scope and coverage of the SA CVS.

In May 2019, the Marshall government made a decision to reduce the coverage and scope of the CVS, and prevented it from visiting individuals with disabilities in group homes and cluster homes who are being supported by Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

This resulted in the CVS no longer visiting 2200 individuals in houses and accommodation that were providing personal support from NGOs and private companies.

A number of states and territories were questioning the role of community visitor schemes once the NDIS was fully rolled out and the NDIS quality and safeguards commission was in place.

For this reason, the Disability Reform Council (this Council comprises all the various ministers responsible for disability, state and federal) commissioned an independent review of community visitor schemes across Australia, and questioned whether they had a role and value once the NDIS was fully implemented and backed by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

The report found that community visitor schemes have a different but important role in being the eyes in the years of ministers and government in picking up on in irregularities and issues and being an early warning sign.

They acknowledged that the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission do not proactively do regular visits to disability accommodation services; they rely on complaints being lodged to them or concerns arising from auditing and compliance.

The report went on to state that states and territories that had community visitor schemes operating should ensure there is adequate funding for these programs to continue, and that the two states that did not have visitor schemes (Western Australia and Tasmania) should consider developing and implementing similar schemes.

Despite this very positive report which the state government had in December 2018, they continued with their position to reduce the scope and coverage of the SA CVS.

All other states that had visitor schemes made amendments to legislation or regulations to enable their schemes to continue.

Minister Lensink had received advice from the Department that the legislative provisions to enable community visitors to visit people with non-government organisations was contained within the SA Disability Services Act, a funding act, and now that individuals were receiving funding through the NDIS and the Commonwealth, the act was no longer applicable.

However, there is very clear provisions that could have been drafted within the Disability Inclusion Act but unlike other jurisdictions, our SA government chose not to find a solution to overcoming the ability for the scheme to continue.

I must say that it would have been unlikely that the CVS would have been visiting Ann-Marie Smith in her private home unless there was a request for us to visit by a concerned party.

This has been a horrible, tragic and preventable death. The NDIS quality and safeguards commission commissioned a study into preventable deaths by Prof Julian Trollor using existing studies in this area such as the New South Wales ombudsman biannual reports into preventable deaths of people with disabilities.

Prof Trollor argued that there were over 400 preventable deaths of people with disabilities every year in Australia.

Here are the links to these reports:

Here is the link to the evidence that Prof Trollor provided to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability

The New South Wales ombudsman, Queensland public advocate and Victoria all did reports into preventable deaths of people with disabilities. South Australia has not done that. – Maurice Corcoran

Commenting on the story: China’s big barley tariff to hit SA farmers hard

Us Australians have to wake up and get off the easy Chinese ride we are getting used to.

We need to build and diversify our export markets; it will take some effort to do this, but we have the talented people, the IP, the finances and the ability to go out and do that.

We also need to diversify our OS supply lines into Australia away from the heavy reliance on China. There are plenty of countries that would bend over backwards to be given an opportunity to supply into Australia.

They may need initial support to get going, but again we have talented people, the IP, the finances and the ability to go out and do that. Better still, encourage local supply of critical items. Even partner with NZ to increase our market size to make local manufacture more viable.

The Chinese government is showing its true colours in going down the path of tariff applications. They don’t even admit to the real reason they are imposing them – that’s a diplomatic way of putting it! Robert Kirk

This may be an opportunity to expand local malster’s operations, and for feed barley to augment local feedlots supply.

For sure, we want to keep the Chinese markets. They like our products, and we like theirs.

On a personal level, I love to buy Chinese chainsaws, as a hobby and to keep the home fires burning during winter. This will continue.

It will sort it self out, and cheers to Chinese beer drinkers. Stefan Lewandowski

Commenting on the opinion piece: A bountiful harvest of debate over GM crops go-ahead

Any farmers hoping to take advantage of the end of the SA GM crop moratorium would be wise to study the history of sale prices of GM canola interstate. 

GM canola almost always sells for significantly less than GM free canola in Australia. A study of the canola harvest for Victoria and SA in 2017/2018 submitted to the Legislative House inquiry showed that Victorian GM canola sold for less than both Victorian and SA GM free canola the vast majority of the time.

For that calendar year, GM canola prices were an average of $20 a tonne lower than GM-free, ranging up to $70 per tonne lower.

I thought GM was meant to bring huge profits? Not so according to actual canola sales data rather than GM seed supplier marketing spin.

Farmers beware. – Robyn Woo

A scene from the brave new world.

“The silver suited prophets glimmer in the morning light as the dollars roll in from levies on the sweat of the farmer. We’ll take it all, they say, use it to our ends. We charge for the resulting genetically patented (our patents) seeds and charge yet another royalty for the grain the farmers produce. Three bites of this very lucrative cherry is a bonanza for our kind.

We entice some near the land to tell our story, cause them to feel important and give them great comfort in their minds.

When the genes escape (as they inevitably will) those who don’t follow our theology must control the plants that result, that’s not our responsibility, we are absolved of sin. Of course, their marketing will also be thrown into disarray, but that’s not our problem either.

Those that eat our seeds or their products need not know what they’re eating or feeding their children. The great judge of all that is good, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, accepted our word it is safe, therefore it is.

Those that oppose our theology will be attacked, discredited and silenced as anti-science, Luddites and cast out.

We must dominate the land, bend it to our will, beat the soil into submission for we are all powerful and the only hope for the future. The people will eat what we tell them. What would worms or dung beetles know compared to the omnipotence we possess?”

There we have the philosophy of the all-knowing, all singing, all dancing GM industry.

Those of us who oppose GM technology as currently presented are not anti-science, nor are many of us Amish. Many of us adopt modern science – no till techniques, herbicides, GPS, genuine agronomic research and market sensitive plant breeding with great enthusiasm.

Incidentally, Amish farming is more efficient, uses less land and had a higher economic return than chemical farming. It is also one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture. 

People buy Amish produce because it is Amish and they trust it. Very few, if any, will buy GM produce because it is GM.

What we don’t accept is the GM industries claim on a huge proportion of farmer levy funds for their research. Nor do we accept the GM industry assuming the right to contaminate our land, our plant varieties and our end products with their patented genes.

Have your GM. But be honest where it is, who grows it and who is likely to consume it. Accept responsibility for adverse outcomes, be they agronomic, market or human health and don’t hide behind legislated license or protection.

Also accept many worms and dung beetles know a lot more about the soil, and plants, than you do and have been working a lot longer. To denigrate our soil and soil biota is pure arrogance and shows contempt for the systems you manipulate.

Finally give farmers the right to choose whether to fund your research – or not. Bob Mackley

Grain Producers SA treat most grain growers unfairly, promoting the agrichemical industry’s access to profits instead of guarding their members’ interests.

The GM crop ban has served the state very well by making premium Australian and overseas GM-free markets accessible.

The former ALP State Government kept the GM crop moratorium for economic reasons but, in opposition, the ALP broke their election promise. The market advantages of having clean, green and GM-free oilseed for our international trading partners were substantial.

GPSA’s assertion that: “South Australia has been frozen in time in our approach to plant breeding,” is just wrong. The SA Government has made substantial investments in crop biotechnology over several decades, to develop new varieties without the marketing baggage of GM.

For example, the latest robotic phenotyping, speed breeding and molecular markers are all being used to develop world class varieties of cereal and pulse crops.

The 5,000 SA growers who won’t ever grow Roundup tolerant canola will lose their significant market advantage as clean, green, non-GM exporters. GM canola grown in other states has suffered discounts since 2008, so just a handful of growers with poorly managed weed problems continue to grow it.

Last week the penalty for WA’s GM canola was $95/tonne, in Port Melbourne $42/tonne discount and NSW GM growers lost up to $47/tonne. They also pay seed royalties, extra segregation and transport costs, then get less for the end product. It will be the same in SA.

GM canola is a loser for farmers, the food industry and shoppers so the GM ban should have been allowed to run till 2025, as parliament decided before the last election. – Bob Phelps, Gene Ethics

Grain Producers SA CEO Caroline Rhodes has stated in the past that that “GM tools have been independently proven to be safe and effective”.

She obviously hasn’t read “Genetic Roulette” by Jeffrey M. Smith, 318 pages of research information that paints a very different picture. The effects on animals in feeding studies were very concerning indeed.

Mr Smith has also written “Seeds of Deception”, 292 pages exposing (quote ) “Industry and Government Lies about the safety of the genetically engineered foods you’re eating”.(Unquote.)

Most research that is lauded in the media has been done by vested interest corporations which stand to make billions of dollars from patented food staples.

No one should have the right to choose to grow a crop that can contaminate another person’s property with a patented product for which royalties can be demanded.

The Gene Ethics Network constantly monitors sales of grains crops and non-GM always attracts a premium price. 

Why would farmers want to grow expensive seed and chemical-required GM crops unless they were being heavily subsidised with inducements? – Ray Linkevics

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