Feeding the hungry crucial: ex-deputy PM

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After scaling the heights of Australian politics, John Anderson is firmly grounded working on his farm in Mullaley, north of Sydney, where he grew up.

The former deputy to prime minister John Howard was busy putting up a fence that was knocked over during the devastating floods that inundated large swathes of the state.

A day after recently elected PM Anthony Albanese visited Indonesia, Mr Anderson, who is part of an Australia and Indonesia dialogue group, said relations with Australia's northern neighbour are strong.

He recounted how sitting on the floor in a humble shack with several Indonesian women working on small business projects with Opportunity International Australia, a not-for-profit organisation he's affiliated with, had driven home that message.

"One of the women said my children have full bellies and they go to school every day and an Australian has made this possible ... so it isn't just government to government ties," the sixth-generation farmer and grazier told AAP.

His zeal towards feeding the hungry has been recognised in the awarding of the Companion of Order of Australia - the highest achievement for service - as part of this year's Queen's Birthday Honours Roll.

Other former politicians honoured include Carmen Lawrence, the first woman to become premier of an Australian state, having led Western Australia in the early '90s.

Since stepping away from a long career in politics, Mr Anderson has lent his expertise and become a vocal advocate for rural and regional development focusing on agricultural research and food security.

"What I've tried to do since I left public life, much of it is centred on trying to be a friend and a supporter to many wonderful Australian organisations and people building in the region, and in other parts of the world like Africa," he said.

On the current energy debate where prices have rocketed amid supply constraints caused, in part, by the conflict in Ukraine, the former National Party leader says practical realities need to be taken into account.

"In the rush to demonise fossil fuels, we've overlooked the fact that everyone acknowledges the importance of gas... as a critical bridging fuel," he said.

He said natural gas has a critical role to play in food production amid global shortages linked to wars in Ukraine and Yemen, where millions of people go hungry daily.

"Transitioning away from fossil fuels can't be done in a way that cripples agricultural products," said Mr Anderson.

"We have to continue to feed people, the price of not feeding people will be disastrous".

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