PRA Comment Regarding Draft Inquiry into the Regulation of Agriculture


PRA Comment Regarding Draft Report Inquiry into the Regulation of Agriculture


Red and green tape – the world seems bound up by it.  It has been a welcomed move that the Productivity Commission is inquiring into the Regulation of Agriculture.  The draft report has now been released and the result is both sweet and sour for agricultural producers.

Having already completed a report previously on vegetation management, the commission is well aware of the cost and other impositions on agriculture and say that vegetation regulation should be based on risk and balance economic, social and environmental values.  This is the direct opposite of the reasoning behind the present Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) Bill presently before the Qld parliament.

In contrast, the Commission seem to have no grasp of the need for individual farmers to have ensured balance of power to reach true commercial agreements against very large companies and to have access to greater competition where their produce can be marketed.

On every single other topic that they investigate they are singularly in favour of a free market and letting the market sort it out.  This applies to having no “right to farm” policies, a more liberal approach to foreign investment and no specialist legislation including for Qld canegrowers in response to being forced into mill-owned sugar marketing monopolies

The Productivity Commission’s misconstruction has been extended to the push, (yet unmet by any government policy or legislation), for a choice for farmers to the right to say no to resources companies.

The draft report makes a bemusing and disquieting statement of,

“A right of veto by agricultural landholders over resource development would arbitrarily transfer property rights from the community as a whole to individual landholders.” and that it is a privilege that landowners would need to pay for.

It appears that the Commission while agreeing to the overall concept of a property right cannot always apply it to an individual landowner when applying a free market worldview.

They put forward that every state and territory has agreed through COAG to have a policy of co-existence and that landowners should be adequately compensated for any inconvenience.

There is no deep understanding by them that agreement by a landowner is legislated, expensive and time sensitive; that safety of farm water resources is and will be affected and prime agricultural land will be diminished.  Compensation is, for most farmers is woefully inadequate and a detailed analysis by the Productivity Commission would show that much of the cost of resource development has been internalised by the agricultural community.  There is also no understanding that the imbalance of power is characterised by lack of respect and bullying such that the enforced co-existence is more akin to “The Burning Bed” than “Love Story.”

The moderate proponents of the right to say no to recourses have a lot of work to do to explain that the resources themselves are still vested in the crown, that proposals will still progress but the market really will sort out the “highest and best use” which is re-iterated as a desirable goal repeatedly through the report and will lead to a degree of respect and fairness between landowners and resource companies which legislated privileges have shattered. 

Further comment on the draft report is available until 18th August and at various hearings around the country.