NATIONAL Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson says a good relationship with China is critical in order to forge ongoing trade ties.
Speaking with the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, Ms Simson also said farmers and exporters could take nothing for granted.
“It is incredibly important to realise Australia can’t take anything for granted,” she told the agency.
“Whilst Chinese consumers are very fond of Australian produce, most of the things we produce they can get from elsewhere,” she said.
“This is critical; the relationship needs to be deep; it’s just not enough to have one person who has a good relationship with China. It actually needs to be multi-tiered and multi-pronged.”
Ms Simson said farmers were “very astute businesspeople”.
“They are very open-minded and accepting of a wide range of people in their communities, because their communities are diverse,” she said.
“They are very aware of building relationships and the importance of trade.”
Ms Simson said it was “critical that relationships are built in the good times because that’s what you go back to in the bad times”.
Ms Simson’s comments are interesting as head of an entity with close ties to the Liberal Party, the NFF being something of an arch foe of the Maritime Union.
The relationship between Australia and China currently appears to be at the lowest point in some years, with the Asian giant recently announcing an 80% tariff on Australian barley, with the trade in beef, iron ore and coal also coming under the microscope.
These cases fed into a wider narrative of China being unhappy with the nature of Australian calls for an inquiry into the causes of COVID-19 and suggestions that Australia was acting at the behest of the US.