Red Tape Hinders Producers

Written by:
23 November 2023
Red Tape Hinders Producers - Featured image
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In this article, Lachlan Clark contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into Australia’s level of red tape and how that affects Australia’s regional communities.


Red tape is the bane of many farmers. Time spent filling out forms and applying for permits takes them away from doing what they do best, which is growing the food and fibre Australia relies on.

In the Banana Shire Council however, not all land users are created equal. This is something being driven by bureaucrats who are putting the interest of the political class and inner-city elites ahead of the region’s farmers.

The Australian Business Licence and Information Service, an Australian Government online tool which informs businesses of the regulatory categories they are required to comply with, confirms this.
A livestock farming business in the Banana Shire Council needs to comply with a total of 112 separate regulatory categories, and under each of these sits a myriad of further permits and conditions. A fruit, nut and vegetable growing business in the Shire needs to comply with a total of 120.

Yet, a wind electricity generation business in the region, like the Mount Hopeful wind project, only needs to comply with 67 regulatory categories. And a solar electricity generation business in the region, like the Smoky Creek Solar project, only needs to comply with 68.

So, in the Banana Shire, primary producers are faced with almost twice the amount of red tape as renewable energy generators. It was a point well made by the Federal Member for Flynn, Colin Boyce, when he said in this newspaper that the “renewable energy sector is not governed by any legislation including reef regulations, tree clearing, guidelines or environmental protocols that are placed on the agriculture and mining and resources sector.”

While reducing red tape across the board should always be a priority, in the absence of any reductions what is clear is that city-based bureaucrats are favouring one sector over the other.

Our farmers, who put food on Australian tables and export much more of it to the world, are at best ignored, and worse deliberately hindered, by inner city policymakers who use regulatory means to push ideological policies, such as net zero.

Knowing all too well the preferential treatment that renewable projects in the regions receive, and the potential to ruin the livelihoods of those in local communities, Mr Boyce was right to point out those communities’ disappointment with the Federal Minister for Environment’s approval of the Smokey Creek solar factory.

Serious problems arise when you have people making decisions that impact regions where they do not reside, or for industries in which they do not work. They are very conveniently spared any of the on-the-ground consequences of the decisions they make.

Being disconnected from the regions, citybased bureaucrats continue to impose more and more red tape on our farming and resource sectors in order to satisfy the fashionable concerns of inner-city activists, all the while making it harder for regional areas to survive, let alone prosper.

The political class too easily forgets the role the bush plays in our lives, and the important role that it must play in any viable future for our nation.

Even though our leaders aren’t, mainstream Australians are deeply aware of the vital contribution our rural and regional communities make to our nation.

The Institute of Public Affairs recently conducted a poll on the attitudes of Australians on key regional industries and activities. The research found that over two-thirds of Australians believe that farmers and food producers are under-appreciated. And two and half times more Australians think farming has a positive rather than a negative impact on the environment.

Our political leaders need to heed this and implement policies that back the bush, and bridge the city-country divide. It is time governments, at all levels, got out of the way and allowed our primary producers to continue to deliver for Australia, just as they have done for the past two centuries.

In the absence of a fresh focus on the bush, the city-rural disconnect will only widen, and the onerous conditions placed on our primary producers will further undermine the sector and compromise Australian prosperity.

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