There’s some good news for farmers in a new report from the agricultural forecaster, with winter crop production in Australia expected to increase by 76% in the 2020-21 financial year to 51.5 million tonnes.
After years of drought that result would be “second only to the record high of 56.7 million tonnes in 2016-17”, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (Abares). The outlook released today is an 7.4% upward revision from the forecast Abares published in September.
Here are a few key stats from the latest Australian crop report:
- Wheat production forecast to increase by 106% to 31.2 million tonnes, the second highest on record.
- Production of barley – the product hit with hefty tariffs by China earlier this year – forecast to increase by 33% to 12 million tonnes, the second-highest on record.
- Canola production forecast to rise by 59% to 3.7 million tonnes, the fifth-highest on record.
- Chickpeas production is forecast to increase by 162% to 737,000 tonnes.
In a statement, the executive director of Abares, Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said production in key cropping regions in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia was “boosted by favourable conditions during the critical grain development phase”.
“Crops in these states were generally in very good condition at the end of winter, and the favourable rainfall during September and October was perfectly timed for the growth cycle. Production is expected to be a record high in New South Wales, the second-highest on record in Victoria and well above average in South Australia.”
However the report notes the outlook is not uniform across the country, with crop prospects in Western Australia and Queensland “less favourable than other states at the end of winter and yield prospects deteriorated in these states during early spring because of unfavourable seasonal conditions”.
The Senate will consider a range of amendments to the Morrison government’s foreign veto bill amid a push by the Coalition to have the new powers pass before the Christmas break.
The bill would allow the foreign affairs minister to veto certain types of agreements state, territory and local governments reach with foreign government entities if deemed to harm Australia’s foreign relations.
The Coalition has already moved its own amendment to clarify universities will only have to tell the Australian government about agreements with foreign universities where the government of that country or region “is in a position to exercise substantial control over the university”.
But Labor, the Greens and the independent senator Rex Patrick are seeking broader changes to the government’s bill.
Labor will move an amendment to force the minister to prepare a report on the implications of the new veto powers on the current 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company, while also spelling out how the new law would apply to similar leases of major infrastructure if those such arrangements were reached in future.
Labor wants an annual report tabled in parliament detailing how the minister has used the powers.
Labor’s Penny Wong also put forward amendments to ensure the foreign minister’s decisions to veto agreements can be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – something the Greens have also proposed.
Amid concerns the definition of foreign policy is vague, the Greens also want to ensure the foreign minister must publish a statement at least once a year outlining Australian foreign policy as it applies to the veto powers, so that bodies making agreements can have more certainty about what is in the government’s sights.
The Greens have proposed amendments removing Australian universities entirely from the reach of the bill. But if that fails, the Greens will move to ensure university agreements are only covered if worth at least $250,000.
Patrick has proposed an amendment to ensure the bill is broadened to cover deals reached between the Australian Olympic Committee and foreign Olympic bodies including the International Olympic Committee.