Station Life column: Journalist’s insults to farmers a sign of ignorance

Raelene HallMidwest Times
A farmer checks over his harvest. File image
Camera IconA farmer checks over his harvest. File image Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

What would be the reaction if I wrote an article about journalists, maligning them all as lazy and incompetent and never telling the truth?

The outcry would be deafening.

Why is it then OK for Aaron Patrick, a senior journalist with the Australian Financial Review, to write an article that lumps all farmers and rural people across Australia as R.M. Williams-wearing, Range Rover-driving people who young people don’t want to work for in case they have to live in a shack full of dust with the loo down the back. The article shows a complete lack of research and knowledge of farming and country life that is breathtakingly ignorant.

It seems because Australian farmers are, supposedly (many are still harvesting), producing the second- biggest crop on record in 2020, then all is well in the farming world.

To this journalist, the droughts in Australia are obviously all over and there is nothing else that has had any impact on farming income.

Therefore no farmer should require any assistance, in any form.

Basic research would have shown Australian farmers are the least subsidised in the world. It would also have shown there are still ongoing droughts in Australia as just one issue facing farmers.

The toll a drought takes on the land and the financial situation of a farmer can never be overcome by just one good season. Again, basic research.

Just talking to some farmers would have enabled him to understand the logistics of farming instead of relying on information from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics. His reference to “legal tax shelters” does not make clear that tax is paid on this money when withdrawn and there is a limit on how much you can have in “shelters”.

As with any industry we all know there are those who will take advantage of anything offered by the Government and, if they are entitled to it, why shouldn't they?

On the other hand, often the paperwork involved in any assistance is so onerous many people just give up on trying to access support.

Writing an article throwing insults at every farmer in Australia is wrong, just as it would be for me to make a sweeping statement about journalists without talking to one. Maybe a few days in a dusty shack with an outdoor loo would do this bloke some good.

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