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One-stop-shop welcomed to reduce farmers’ green tape

27 June 2013

A one-stop-shop for environmental approvals, announced yesterday as a key policy for the Coalition, has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

Fifteen months after the Coalition first announced their streamlined approach to environmental policy, NFF CEO Matt Linnegar says it’s positive to see a major party putting a commitment to cut green tape on the agenda for the Federal Election.

“Farm businesses are tied up in regulatory requirements, both red and green tape, and the NFF has pushed for many years to reduce the burden on our farmers,” Mr Linnegar said.

“In 2006, an NFF submission to the Productivity Commission showed that the regulatory burden on agricultural businesses, including complex and contradictory environmental legislation, was a huge issue for farmers.

“Seven years on, farmers are struggling with more, not less, regulation. This comes at a huge cost to farmers: not only in financial terms in having to comply with these regulations, but also in time, with a large part of a farmers’ day being taken up in overcoming these hurdles.

“As we said fifteen months ago, environmental regulation duplication and overlap remain areas of key concern. Farmers wishing to change the uses of their land – be it vegetation changes, dam development or seeking to subdivide – may be required to gain separate Federal and State approvals.

“That is why we today welcome the Coalition’s commitment to create a single lodgement and document process – simplifying the process and reducing unnecessary duplication. We are also pleased to note that the Coalition has said that this could be expanded to create a single entry point for approvals across all Government portfolios – this simplification would greatly assist all farm businesses.

“We also welcome the Coalition’s promise to create a single approvals process for environmental assessment and approvals under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

“At present, matters of national environmental significance are governed under the EPBC Act, while farmers may also be required to have state approval: a completely separate set of scientific definitions, impact thresholds and geographic coverage, sometimes for the same species of plant, animal or ecological community.

“Fifteen months ago, we asked for a process of quicker assessments of straight forward applications for farmers, and a streamlining of state and federal application processes. From what we’ve seen of the Coalition’s policy to date, it would seem that they are listening. We await further details of this policy with interest,” Mr Linnegar said.

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