Toobeah farmer John Norman’s nightmare experience with red tape and excessive bureaucracy illustrates an issue many farmers face.
It shouldn’t have taken Mr Norman long to prolong a natural event that occurred on his property following a flood event. Water just needed to be added to the natural flow from his farm. But Mr Norman ended up spending six weeks negotiating the red tape maze setup by multiple government agencies at considerable personal expense. This not only cost time, money and resources. It also jeopardised environmental outcomes.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Recent research highlights the extent of the problem: Each and every year red tape is costing our economy more than $176b. And our red tape state is now comprised of some 1,181 entities, bodies and administrative relationships. Mr Norman was just the latest farmer to get caught in this web of excessive bureaucracy. Indeed, the recent Productivity Commission report highlighted a litany of duplicative, unnecessary and costly regulations across the entire agricultural sector.
The report found how coastal shipping and heavy vehicle regulation increases transport costs, how native vegetation laws can make basic land-clearing nearly impossible and how restrictions on foreign investment reduce farm productivity and land value. These red tape costs can be the difference between success and failure. The key lesson to learn from Mr Norman’s experience is farmers and land-owners are best suited to manage their own land. When they are empowered to do this they not only do the right thing by their business and community. They also do the right thing by the environment.
This article appeared in the Goondiwindi Argus on the 2nd of August, 2016.