FOLLOWING a landmark decision banning glyphosate in the United States, Merriwa resident Ron Campbell asked Upper Hunter by-election candidates if they would support the proposed glyphosate ban in Australia.
Commonly known as Roundup, Glyphosate is a herbicide used by landholders to combat weeds, with Mr Campbell pointing out that farmers must acquire accreditation to use the chemical.
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated the chemical is potentially carcinogenic, sparking the debate over a potential ban, which farmers say would heavily impact their ability to control invasive weeds.
Mr Campbell asked the Greens, Labor and Nationals candidates if they support the ban:
Sue Abbott, Greens Party candidate said she would not support keeping it. She said due to new evidence coming out that advises for people to be careful using the substance. Ms Abbott said glyphosate has a big cloud over it and requires more scrutiny and whilst there is more evidence coming on board, workers using it need to have protection. “It’s not looking good for the states, it’s not looking good for Europe and the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority) might say,’ this is what we can do.'”
Mr Campbell interrupted Ms Abbott, calling the evidence “rubbish.” One Nation candidate Dale McNamara also interjected to agree with Mr Campbell.
“I know you have said that is rubbish but I have the floor and I can finish,” Ms Abbott said before continuing. “The evidence is strong and we do need to look at it, if you’re working in big institutions and you have workers working for you, you need to be sure that you are confident that the product is okay to use,” she said.
Labor candidate Jeff Drayton said as a farmer who uses glyphosate himself, a number of chemicals have been deemed unsafe and banned over the years. “Experts should decide whether we can or can’t use it and I’m not sure that we should go away from relying on those experts. If they say it’s safe and give us instructions on how to use it and how to use it safely I think we should still use it,” he said.
David Layzell, Nationals candidate said Roundup is an important chemical and “based on the evidence now, there is absolutely no way it should be banned.” He said it’s really important and there is a “crazy ideology trying to shut down our farms and the right to farm, which is very frustrating instead of looking at evidence and the practical side to it, so no I would never support the banning of Roundup.”
Wilpinjong Coal mine and prime agricultural land
Bev Smiles from the Wollar Progress Association asked the One Nation, Shooters, Nationals and Labor candidates:“What is your party policy in regard to protecting rural communities and do you think that multi-national mining companies should own the majority of the land in an area around coal mining?”
“On the 21st of April, the Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced new coal release area around my village with no consultation whatsoever, even though the government’s own policy is to run a preliminary regional issues assessment,” Ms Smiles said.
“Since we’ve had coal mining next to us, since 2006, we had a vibrant rural community with between 300 and 400 people in our community. We now have about 20,” she said.
Ms Smiles said the multi-national company Peabody Energy, now owns a majority of the surrounding land including parts of the village.
“What is your party policy in regard to protecting rural communities and do you think that multi-national mining companies should own the majority of the land in an area around coal mining?” questioned Ms Smiles.
David Layzell confirmed John Barilaro approved the opening of the land area in terms of coal exploration. “It’s a touch one in these small villages, when you’ve got coal mines going in there and impact on the community,” said Mr Layzell. “There is time for consultation, you can submit your views on that to the government. It’s all about these companies buy up their buff of land and there’s jobs that will be created. There’s jobs there for the next generation who will continue to learn and train and use that opportunity to gain all of the great skills going forward,” he said. Mr Layzell said buying the surrounding land is part of a process to ensure “were all good neighbours.”
Dale McNamara said One Nation policy supports all energies. “The people that live around that coal mine should be consulted and if they’re going to sell, it should be a decision for all the farmers, just like the people with the problems with the transmission lines, people should be protected,” he said.
Jeff Drayton said the key is consultation. “When consultation means turn up and this is how it is, of course, that’s not consultation,” he said. In relation to farming land around the coal mines, Mr Drayton said “that land shouldn’t be locked up . . . it should still be used as productive farming land when there is potential to still use it as farming land.”
Sue Gilroy said the Shooters Farmers and Fishers Party absolutely supports consultation because “that’s why it’s there.” She said, “it’s not about bullying landowners into new mines or extensions. SFF doesn’t support mining or any extractive industries on prime agricultural land and that’s within our policies. Certainly, as land is regenerated, it should be released back to be used for farming.”
For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.