Delegates at the opening of the CWA’s AGM.
Delegates at the opening of the CWA’s AGM.

CWA debates tough issues

If you thought the Country Women’s Association was just about swapping cake recipes, you couldn’t be further from the truth. The CWA have been tackling some of the big issues in Australian politics at their recent Annual General Meeting. Over 600 delegates came together in Port Macquarie from May 15-17 and on the agenda were some serious environmental and agricultural issues, as well as the contentious health issue of assisted dying.

“It’s amazing the range of issues that the members bring up,” CWA executive officer Donna Wilkins said. “There were 16 motions debated and voted on over a two and a half day period and these can become the CWA policy for the year.”

The delegates unanimously voted to campaign against climate change and carbon trading legislation which would adversely affect the agricultural industry. In the presentation of the motion, it was stated that ‘Everything that is good about agriculture in terms of the environment is virtually ignored, while its emissions from livestock and cropping, for example, will be counted and farmers penalised… There is simply no alternative to producing food, but unless the full lifecycle of farming is acknowledged, the flow-on effect will be more imports, resulting in a loss of Australian jobs and farm communities.’

The CWA also debated the issue of fertile food bowls versus mining dollars and voted to request that the State and Federal Governments develop legislation to protect prime agricultural land from mining activities that could impact on agricultural food production, and ground and surface water systems. The motion presented stated ‘Water is fast becoming a scarce commodity and we should protect what we have. If aquifers are cracked or damaged there is the possibility of either contamination or loss of our water supply.’

Ms Wilkins said that while many members of the CWA lived in rural areas, one third of CWA members lived in metropolitan NSW.

“The CWA is as relevant today as when it started,” Ms Wilkins said. “Our aim is to improve the living conditions of women and their families throughout NSW.”

Ms Wilkins said, on the issue of physician-assisted dying, delegates were evenly divided in their opinions.

“We tried to raise a euthanasia motion last year, but after a long and vigorous emotional debate, we decided not to set a policy on it. This year, we again had a heated discussion and in the end we voted on a fairly general motion that we would encourage open debate on physician assisted dying.

“I think that it’s about getting people talking about it. All our members are active within their communities and will act on the results by writing and talking to relevant government ministers on the issues of concern.”

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