Milne launches 'listening tour'

ESTABLISHING a new fossil-fuel based industry like coal seam gas undermines efforts to support sustainable agriculture, new Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says.

Senator Milne will start a "regional listening tour" this week, heading first to Orange, with a goal to hear from locals about how to tackle the global issues of energy, the environment and food security.

But she has not yet nailed down plans to head to towns around northern NSW.

Senator Milne said she believed the expansion of mining and coal seam gas was undermining the "critical" need for agriculture to remain sustainable in the face of growing food security challenges.

"We have already had our state Senators Larissa Waters and Lee Rhiannon visiting the Darling Downs and Liverpool Plains talking about coal seam gas, and I will do what I can for farmers coming up against this industry," she said.

"I also want to talk about the carbon farming initiative, and what it can do, not only in storing more carbon emissions in the landscape, but how it can benefit farmers by providing another income stream as well.

"Particularly, we need to have a debate about how farmers are going to increase production if you can't increase the inputs into an operation, and I'm also interested in how local people are innovating in that sector."

Also on her agenda in her commitment to a "flourishing regional Australia" were the renewable energy sector and the effect of the supermarket duopoly on farm-gate prices.

"I'm hugely looking forward to travelling around regional Australia as one of the first things I do as Leader of the Greens.

"I want to hear from people about their concerns, what they need from us, what we can do for them and how we can best represent them," she said.

Ms Milne said she wanted people in regional NSW to contact her office, and she would do her best to plan a visit to local areas.

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