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Families & natural justice suffer as property rights usurped

23 March 2010

“A CLANDESTINE campaign is eroding people’s rights as Australian governments usurp property through regulation, leaving property owners stranded and out-of-pocket,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie declared today.

“Farmers’ property rights are being stripped away due to government land and water decisions. Full and adequate compensation ought to be a given where property rights are compulsorily acquired, regulated or where practices above and beyond a normal duty of care are imposed.

“Farms, like any small business, need surety over property to make sound long-term decisions about their operations, but governments are shifting the goal posts so much that once grey areas are now pitch-black.”

In lodging a comprehensive submission to the Senate Inquiry into Native Vegetation Laws, Greenhouse Gas Abatement and Climate Change Measures, Mr Crombie says “we’re stuck in a quagmire of uncertainty over the legitimate use of our resources as successive governments – state and federal – conspire to deny us the very tools of our trade”.

“For instance, with the federal government ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, land-clearing bans imposed by state governments after 1990 have seen farmers foot the bill for Australia’s carbon reductions. The federal government is receiving a $4 billion windfall on the back of farmers not being able to farm their properties.

“The upshot? This is a backdoor tactic for the federal government to assume tenure over private property, extract a massive benefit for itself and impose the double-whammy of denying farmers the ability to earn income from land use... all without paying proper compensation to the land owners.

“It’s a perfect scam where state and federal governments use their respective powers in concert to effect property takeover but avoid paying ‘just terms’ compensation. Enough is enough.

“There are those who would pit farmers against environmental needs in this debate. This is a red-herring to distract from the core issue. In fact, farmers have a proven record in environmental land care, spending $3 billion a year on natural resource management, with over 94% of Australian farmers proactive in sustainable farming. They also plant over 20 million trees a year purely for conservation purposes.

“So, we’re not saying “let us do what we like and just chop down trees”, we’re saying “if you’re going to prevent us from farming land and using resources we own, then proper recognition and compensation is fundamental”.”

The NFF is calling for legislative changes, market-based drivers for compensation, a Public Benefit Test on government regulations, analysis of international agreements and their impact, and securing tenure over water property rights.

The NFF’s submission is available at: Submissions to Government.

[ENDS]

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