Speaking Notes: 2011 Agriculture Roundtable Conference

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners of this land we are on today, and I extend my respects and of the Minerals Council of Australia, to their Elders and Ancestors.

Chairman, John Keniry; Executive Director, Mick Keogh; Phil Lowe, Assistant Governor, Reserve Bank of Australia. 

The last time I shared a platform with the Reserve Bank of Australia in this context was in 2005, when I was asked to give a keynote address to a meeting of the Deputy Governors and Deputy Secretaries of the G20 in Banff, Canada on how Australia had dodged the so called “resource curse” bullet – how we had transformed the Australian economy on the back of our natural resource endowment – and sustainably so.

I thought long and hard about how to best address the question posed in this session: “Can farming survive the mining boom?”

So, I confess that I found it a pretty loaded question and a strange one in some ways; certainly from an economic perspective because it seems caught in a very mechanistic, zero-sum mindset.

And so I think it’s important at the outset to recognise what our two industries have in common.

Mining and agriculture have both played indispensable roles in Australia’s economic development whether measured in terms of living standards and growth, export income or the spread of economic opportunity to regional and remote Australia.

Mining and agriculture are, contrary to much conventional wisdom, both highly innovative, technology-intensive industries.

They are by their nature both cyclical industries. High prices come and go; booms give way to slumps. And bitter experience should have taught us the folly of expecting governments to shelter, smooth out or manage our industries for us.

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