The Omicron variant is putting into sharp relief the strain COVID-19 has been putting on our supply chains, and highlighted ways in which our logistics and markets may be made more resilient.
The question remains whether state and federal levels of government have the gumption to take the necessary steps today to ensure our supply chains work better in the future.
Way back in June 2020 in this very column Growcom called for work to be done on enabling shorter and more decentralised fresh produce supply chains, connecting consumers more directly with growers, to complement those longer chains we currently rely upon.
This was in response to changing consumer preferences for buying online, receiving goods at home, and for sourcing their produce locally. Only most recently have we also seen fresh produce shortages in grocery aisles.
At the time Growcom submitted to the Queensland government a proposal for exploring this concept further, and while we had some interest from the Treasurer's office, it sadly went no further.
Then again in October last year, in response to input costs that were already rising sharply, we called for greater self-sufficiency in our agricultural inputs and an investment in locally sourced solutions to address weaknesses in our supply from overseas.
And in response we've seen no strong signal of intent from any sitting government or portfolio minister to take action in securing our own long term strategic supply chain interests.
This may be a product of the long running reluctance of governments from each side of politics to get their hands dirty with the sort of interventions that would be required, fed by the prevailing free market, neoliberal dogma.
But all this may change ahead of the next federal election due by May should Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese have his way.
Mr Albanese has made a return to domestic manufacture one of his key planks under Federal Labor's 'Plan for a Better Future'.
Growcom welcomes the prospect of a proper debate this election on the merits of greater government intervention in markets and manufacture. Regardless of where you sit on the subject, so should you.
No other country, aside from the US, treats this subject with the same trepidation as we do. The way our markets and supply chains work is choice we make as a people, and so should be up for open debate.
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