Hope of red tape break

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HAN­SON

TAS­MA­NIAN farm­ers are hop­ing a re­view of fed­eral leg­is­la­tion can find a balance be­tween agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment and the en­vi­ron­ment as well as cut red tape.

Farmer or­gan­i­sa­tions na­tion­wide have wel­comed the agri­cul­ture-spe­cific, in­de­pen­dent re­view of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Act.

The re­view will be led by former Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive and Cli­mate Change Author­ity chair­woman Wendy Craik.

The new re­view fol­lows an in­quiry by the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion into agri­cul­ture last year, which found com­plex na­tive veg­e­ta­tion and con­ser­va­tion laws were oner­ous and costly for farm­ers.

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Wayne Johnston said he hoped red tape could be cut af­ter the re­view.

“Hav­ing been in­volved with the build­ing of the Me­an­der Dam, I un­der­stand the frus­tra­tions in­volved in a de­vel­op­ment like that,” he said.

“How­ever, checks and bal- an­ces are needed. A de­vel­op­ment can be a lengthy process so it will be good to shorten the time.

“It’s easy for peo­ple to make a claim that doesn’t have to be proved and this can slow the de­vel­op­ment process,” Mr Johnston said.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud said farm busi­nesses were “drown­ing in pa­per­work”, while En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg said the costs of red tape fell “dis­pro­por­tion­ately on the farmer”.

NFF pres­i­dent Fiona Sim­son said trans­parency and the way the EPBC Act in­ter­acted with state laws were key is­sues for the re­view.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has said it wants the re­view com­pleted by mid-year and will look to start im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions by the end of the year.

Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion na­ture cam­paign man­ager Basha Stasak said he feared the EPBC Act re­view would be “a smoke­screen to fur­ther weaken al­ready weak laws to al­low more habi­tat de­struc­tion”.

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