Hope of red tape break
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”.