26 January 2010
Farmers have been raising issues with me since my first days in the portfolio and I continue to hear concerns as I visit farmers around the country on their property.
It was out of these concerns that the government established the stewardship program for the box gum woodlands.
This is a piloting of a limited program where farmers are for the first time receiving stewardship payments for their role as environmental managers.
I constantly hear examples as I travel around the country of tragic stories of farmers engaging in self harm.
Australia has never been, and should never be a country where anyone is encouraged to hurt themselves.
The media announcement concerning this protest [Farmers rally; 2 February 2010] appears to be using an action of self harm as a political opportunity and I do not intend to have anything to do with it.