Ballina MP Don Page has called on the ABC not to axe the North Coast ABC Rural Report, out of Lismore, on morning radio at the end of this month.

Mr Page said the ABC was planning to discontinue the program and justify it by saying it will provide an online service instead.

“The North Coast has a very diverse agricultural and horticultural sector and it would be shortsighted to axe the live interviews that are regularly conducted with industry leaders and innovators,” he said.

The Northern Rivers has produced many leaders in agriculture, including two NSW Farmers of the Year recipients since 2007. This year’s winner, Ridley Bell, from Mountain Blue Orchards on the Alstonville Plateau, is a pioneer in the development of the blueberry industry in Australia.

The Northern Rivers is also the home of this year’s Young Farmer of the Year, Andrew Carroll, from Palmers Island, near Yamba and the runner-up, Angus Stainley from Murwillumbah. 

“We have a lot of farmers in our area who are leading the way in their respective fields. The ABC should be highlighting our local innovators and providing local members of the agricultural industry with an opportunity to access their valuable knowledge and innovation,” Mr Page said.

“An investigative reporter in the field on a daily basis provides the rural sector with good-quality reports on what is happening and what is likely to happen in our many rural industries.

“The Rural Report goes to air at 6.40am each weekday – a time when many primary producers are getting ready for work. It is a much-appreciated service with a broad rural following

“An online service, whilst good for some people, won’t suit everyone. Not everyone has a computer whereas almost everyone listens to radio in the mornings.

“The ABC Management says a service will still operate from Port Macquarie but this will not be as satisfactory as having our own reporter in this region.

“At a time when we have so many emerging agricultural and horticultural industries, and we’re connecting sustainable food production and tourism, it makes no sense to chop the widely listened to Rural Report on ABC morning radio.

“I call on the ABC management to rethink their decision and not axe the live Rural Report from Lismore in the mornings at the end of October.”