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Election Wrap Up

This morning Anthony Albanese was sworn in as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. The new Prime Minister was joined by the new Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong and Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher. These new ministers have divided the remaining portfolios between themselves and will act in those roles until next week. Richard Marles is Acting Prime Minister for a couple of days, while Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong attend the Quad Leaders Meeting in Tokyo.

The full Ministry will be sworn in next Wednesday and will be followed by a full Ministry meeting, Cabinet meeting, and meetings of the Expenditure Review Committee and National Security Committees of Cabinet. A new Budget will be drafted and delivered before Christmas, so ERC is starting early – hence the new Treasurer and Finance Minister being sworn in today.

At this stage, there is no news on who will be Water Minister following the loss of Terri Butler who lost Griffith to the Greens, nor do we have any news on energy, although it may stay with Chris Bowen. As an aside, I want to thank Terri Butler for her engagement and interest in the portfolio and her willingness to listen to the productive agriculture sector. NIC will work with whomever is chosen in these portfolios and we look forward to ongoing positive working relationships. We wish Terri all the best for the future.

During his first press conference as PM, Mr Albanese nominated a national integrity commission, an employment summit and constitutional recognition and enshrining a voice to parliament for First Nations as top priorities. Mr Albanese also noted he hoped to bring people together after years of conflict fatigue and noted we can do politics better.

The PM told reporters he has received letters guaranteeing confidence and supply from the existing crossbench, but remains hopeful of winning a majority of seats as the counting continues. He said parliament will be back before the end of July, maybe sooner, but they are working to avoid school holidays and a number of international commitments.

In broader terms, the election will be one for the record books. Academics and political pundits will dissect these results for years to come. The Liberal Party has been decimated, including losing its Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg, among numerous others. It lost some seats to Labor, but even more interestingly it lost seats to the “Teal” Independents who ran strongly on climate action and integrity. Female voters in particular turned on the Coalition coupled with major swings in city areas. Western Australia delivered the most emphatic rejection of the Coalition with swings above ten percent (compared to a just under three percent swing nationwide).

Peter Dutton is the most likely person to take on the Liberal leadership although there are a few other names being floated including Angus Taylor, Karen Andrews, Dan Tehan. Most commentators say the party will need a female leader or deputy to try to win back the female vote. Sussan Ley, Michaelia Cash, Jane Hume and Karen Andrews are being mentioned as potential deputies.

There is also increasing conversation about the future of Barnaby Joyce as Leader of The Nationals. Several people have lined up to place the blame for the Liberal losses at his feet, with people campaigning on “A vote for [Candidate] is a vote for Barnaby”. The Nationals look to have held all its seats although Cowper is still in doubt. The leadership is automatically vacated following an election, so it will be interesting to see if Barnaby is challenged. Either way, the future of the Coalition is in question as is the future of the Liberal Party. Much, much more will be discussed on this going forward as the parties assess their performance at the election.

The other very interesting result was the increase in votes for the Greens which has resulted in at least two seats for the party in the House of Representatives, but could be up to five or even six seats in the Lower House. One question will be whether that vote would have been as high if there was a Teal Independent in those seats and if people would have voted Independent over Green as they looked for an alternative to the major parties – who people seem to have abandoned on mass.

The final count will still be some days away, but it looks likely the ALP will have a slim majority in the House of Representatives with a Crossbench of around 15. The Senate will also see some changes with an increase in the Greens numbers, as well as the introduction of new Crossbenchers like David Pocock. Pauline Hanson surprisingly may not secure a seat – it could instead go to the Legalise Cannabis Party or the Greens, but Hanson remains ahead. Campbell Newman and the Liberal Democrats failed to win a seat, and so did Clive Palmer who spent somewhere around $100 million on the campaign. The Palmer advertisements heavily criticised both Labor and Liberal, so it would be interesting to unpick whether that in fact fuelled the push away from the majors.

This is the joy of democracy. It is beautiful in its ugliness. I’ve been asked about chaos and disfunction, but I would say to people this is how the parliament was designed. It is supposed to be a place where local representatives come together to champion their local areas and local issues, while discussing policy which benefits the nation. Parliament is a place for debate and sharing ideas, and negotiation and comprise – and that conversation should be welcomed. When parties have absolute control, other voices aren’t heard and policy outcomes are not always in the best interests of the nation.

Albo is right, politics can be better. I couldn’t agree more and I wish him luck in that process!

CEO Report

While the drama of the election campaign was unfolding, NIC was busy engaging with candidates and parties, and getting on with the job of advocating for water and energy policy which benefits the irrigated ag sector.

We held a meeting of the Ag Energy Taskforce. During the meeting we heard from the Australian Energy Market Operator updating the group on the Integrated Systems Plan and TasNetworks on the metering offset trial in Tasmania. We discussed the future direction of the Taskforce and the election, and the Consumer Panel report for the ISP. Queensland Farmers' Federation walked us through the Queensland Competition Authority’s Draft Determination on regulated retail electricity prices and provided an update on the microgrids study. The Energy Charter joined the conference to discuss the charter, consumer advocacy and bi-annual roundtables with the Ag sector. The group also reported in with a state-of-play around the States and Territories on energy policy.

I recently met with Ministers Dugald Saunders and Kevin Anderson, and Shadow Minister Rose Jackson, and the Deputy Premier’s office in Sydney. We discussed the SDLAM projects, Better Baaka and Better Bidgee, water infrastructure the 450 GL Efficiency Measures program and finalising the Basin Plan. We also spoke about National Water Reform, complementary measures and energy policy. These were very positive meetings and I look forward to future engagement in NSW.

Another round of discussions were held on the Water Markets Panel’s recommendations on data and digital infrastructure. The Panel is still due to report in June, although the report and its recommendations will now be a matter for the new government.

I attended the Energy Users Association of Australia conference in Melbourne. We heard from former Minister Angus Taylor and Former Shadow Minister Chris Bowen on their respective parties’ energy policy positions and the transition of the energy market. The Chair of the Australian Energy Market Commission addressed the conference and held a Q&A session on the future of the market. There were a number of informative and sessions held on: State of the Market; Future of the Grid; Customer Centricity; Future of Gas – Network Transformation and Future Fuels; and, Towards Net Zero.

I listened in to the NSW Water for the Environment Meeting where the Department provide various updates on water policy in NSW. I participated in meetings of the Renewables in Ag Conference and Australian National Committee of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage meetings – where we discussed plans for their upcoming conferences (see below for details). I also met with a number of public service agencies, including MDBA, to progress and discuss issues, including deliverability risks and conveyance losses work which is underway.

Finally, I wanted to give you an update on NIC Headquarters and the internal work of the organisation. Joy Thomas is leaving NIC after eight years as Policy and Strategy Manager. Joy has spearheaded work on water reform helping secure a range of policy changes including the Northern Basin Review. She has also driven the NIC’s energy policy and work with the Energy Charter, as well as coordinating meetings of the AG Energy Charter. Joy also organised countless General Meetings and AGMs for NIC. Joy has been a valuable and highly respected member of the NIC family, and she has been unwaveringly passionate, motivated and committed to delivering outcomes for our members and she will be greatly missed! On behalf of the NIC Board and Members I wish Joy all the very best for the future!

The NIC Board also met for a Board Planning Day last week to ensure NIC continues to deliver for our Members. During the Planning Day, Directors discussed transitioning the NIC and preparing for the future, constitutional and membership reviews, budget and income streams, and communications and social license. We will have more to update Members on in Nagambie so I hope to see you all there!

As always if you would like to discuss any or all of the above, or would like to let us know about any issues or concerns or thoughts, please feel free to get in touch with Rebecca or me.

All the best.

Cheers, Isaac

NIC General Meeting - Nagambie

For your diaries, a reminder to Members regarding NIC meetings and field trips scheduled for Nagambie, Victoria on Wednesday 20, Thursday 21 and Friday 22 July.

The venue for all meetings will the Nagambie Lakes Regatta Centre, 66 Loddings Lane, Nagambie.

Please book your accommodation. More details on the program will follow.

Additionally, planning ahead, the NIC AGM and General Meeting will be held in Canberra on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 October at East Hotel, Canberra.

Renewables in Ag Conference

On-farm renewables are a valuable opportunity for farmers to cut costs and emissions. This event brings together farmers, agriculture and energy consultants, peak bodies and Government representatives to share stories of on-farm renewables, their business case and discuss what’s driving the transformation of energy use in agriculture.

The Expo offers attendees the chance to speak to credible renewable energy suppliers about what’s on offer.

Date: Thursday 18 August 2022

Field Trip on Friday 19 August to Mytilineos RSD Corowa Solar Farm. Spots limited and transport provided (time TBC - approximately 9.00am to noon)

Time: Expo open and free coffee from 8.00am. Conference sessions running 9.00am - 4.30pm with wine tasting and networking to follow

Location: Albury Entertainment Centre, 525 Swift Street, Albury

Register here: https://www.renewablesinagconference.com.au/register

Irrigation Australia and ICID International Congress

A reminder the Irrigation Australia Conference is on 5-7 October and the world’s largest irrigation event for 2022 the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage’s International Congress is on 3-10 October.

Both events will be held in Adelaide. They should be great! Hope to see you there.

You can find out more here: https://www.icid2022.com.au/

Video

Barry Cassidy of Insiders Fame (among other things) was on The Project and explains in 1.30 why he thinks this election is the biggest change in Australian history.

EXPLAINED: Why This Election Is The Biggest Change In Australian Politics