Ag red tape slashed by $25m

31 Mar, 2015 01:00 AM
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Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Christian Porter.
We need a regulatory system that supports a competitive sector
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Christian Porter.

AGRICULTURAL red tape savings have reached $25 million, according to the the Abbott government’s latest bureaucratic cost cutting exercise.

The Coalition pledged to make red tape savings a key agenda item for business by reducing the burden by $1 billion per year, including for the farm sector.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Christian Porter told the ABARES conference in Canberra earlier this month the thorough, evidence-based red tape identification process had saved $2.1 billion in its first two years.

“What we have achieved is over 400 decisions with an impact of less than $10 million per year, so 400 smaller decisions which percolate down throughout the whole community, and there have been 38 decisions with an impact of more than $10 million per year,” he said.

Mr Porter said agricultural gains included $6.9m by updating the Biosecurity Act; $2m via improved guidelines for timber importers; $1.9m in compliance savings for the Farm Management Deposit (FMD) scheme; and $5m for improved online cargo management.

He said the FMD changes decreased compliance costs for farmers, but the estimated $1.9m didn’t include any measure of productivity impacts generated from the savings.

About $700,000 per year has also been saved by extending the registration period for agvet chemicals, meaning businesses won’t need to reapply as often and therefore have less paperwork compliance to manage, the Western Australian Liberal MP said.

Mr Porter said the Coalition’s recent annual red tape 'repeal day' identified key savings for agriculture.

Red tape has been pinpointed by farm leaders as one of the major impediments to ongoing farm viability.

“We are improving the regulation of stock and pet food products of well-defined risk, reducing the need for these defined risk products to be subject to the same intensive assessment process as high risk agvet chemical products,” Mr Porter said.

Reducing duplication

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has made increased farmgate returns the key goal and ethos of his ministerial reign. He welcomed the $25m identified in regulatory savings for the agriculture sector via the red tape cutting program.

The latest repeal saved $7.8m by removing restrictions to access new products for livestock producers, pet owners and animal feed manufacturers.

“Australia has been lagging behind international competitors in our access to new and innovative feed varieties and not only does it put us on level footing, it could also improve long-term animal health and reduce workload for the regulator the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Management Authority,” he said of the latest savings.

Mr Joyce said the government was committed to a competitive and innovative agriculture sector, “one that brings greater returns to the farmgate, expands trade opportunities and strengthens our rural and regional communities”.

“We need a regulatory system that supports a competitive sector and makes it easier for our farmers and producers to get on with their business - not one that burdens our producers and exporters with unnecessary paperwork and layers of bureaucratic red tape,” he said.

“To date, my portfolio has identified $25m worth of reductions in regulatory compliance costs across a range of areas, including agvet chemicals, biosecurity, live animal exports and service delivery modernisation.

“I know that in the agriculture sector some of the regulatory burden lies with States and Territories, local governments, and other government portfolios.

“I remain committed to working with my parliamentary colleagues and my State and Territory colleagues to identify areas where we can work together to sensibly eliminate and reduce overlap and duplication.”

Mr Joyce said work on deregulation was ongoing and that more reductions in compliance costs could be expected in coming years.

“Throughout this process, I’ll continue to welcome advice from business, industry and the community. I’ve established the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council, with members from a range of agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, to ensure affected stakeholders are consulted on the reform measures,” he said.

Mr Joyce said the latest red tape cuts had included discussions to ensure any reforms would not increase the risk to human or animal health and safety.

“At the same time we’ve listened to industry about where regulations are burdensome and these reforms release a pressure valve of red tape that was preventing new and existing products to hit the market quicker, with fewer impediments,” he said.

Other savings

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson also announced savings in the government’s method of tax reporting for individuals and businesses.

Mr Billson said 402,000 small businesses with modest or negative incomes that are required to lodge a business activity statement will no longer have to interact with the PAYG instalment system.

He said reforms to the payment of superannuation contributions will reduce red tape by almost $20m.

Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss also announced that $82m had been saved by cutting infrastructure red tape.

The savings included $8.3m from the repeal of spray suppression requirements for B-double trucks registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme.

Mr Porter said it was the first time in Australian history that a Commonwealth government had - with a very high degree of accuracy - publicly reported to Parliament, the total amount and cost of Commonwealth regulation.

“Being the first Australian government to achieve a thorough, accurate and reliable picture of the stock and cost of Commonwealth regulation offers very significant economic opportunities,” he said.

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Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Archiblad
31/03/2015 6:04:02 AM

Yeah Righto, this is nowhere near a satisfactory result. Regulation and red tape has increased not decreased. We now cop charges for sheep NVDs, registration of PIC numbers, levies on water, all to fund bureaucracies set up by the Federal Government under mostly COAG agreements. Give us a break!
angry australian
31/03/2015 6:25:45 AM

Christian Porter and his government fiddle while our primary industries burn. When the number in DAFF are reduced from 4k to say 3k, when there are major cutbacks at MDBA and AFMA then we MAY see some legitimate interest in cutting red/green tape. I don't care how many people are unemployed in Canberra for they are only a tax on our primary producers, and it would be cheaper to have them on the dole rather than contriving ways to keep themselves in a job. The alleged savings, $25 m are a drop in the bucket, and who did Christian ask to identify these cuts? Why the public service, what a joke!
Jacky
31/03/2015 6:50:49 AM

Archibald, 'cutting red tape' is code for 'small degree of self regulation but user pays'.
angry australian
31/03/2015 8:02:46 AM

Of course, Mr Porter there is also another simple solution to the red/green tape problem. Don't make any more laws if you politicians don't understand the implications. Forget the Regulatory Impact Statement that comes with the legislation and go out and GENUINELY consult with industry. Not the Dept or MLAs, NFFs, R&DCs etc who have a vested interest in perpetuating their existence. A simple test is, how will industry and Australia be better off with a new law? As Archibald demonstrates, you're the problem, certainly far from the ideal solution.
Archibald
31/03/2015 9:40:02 AM

The biggest piece of RED tape exists inside the RED meat industry and has been the subject of a Senate Inquiry into cattle transaction levies. What has Barnaby Joyce MP done to adopt the 7 excellent senate recommendations?? Answer:- A BIG FAT ZERO Hence its a bit early for "these people" to be congratulating themselves!!
craniologist
31/03/2015 12:42:56 PM

I'll bet any cutting of red tape is lengthways.
PAYG
31/03/2015 6:30:50 PM

Fair-dinkum DAFF staff seem to operate in some sort of parallel universe. Take a look at the structured organisations administered and funded (via levies) under the DAFF umbrella and how these same organisations are hell bent on destroying any chance of any form of on-farm profitability thru so-called ‘Industry Programs & Regulations’.
angry australian
1/04/2015 6:40:36 AM

PAYG,you can find them.Yet, DAFF under instruction from Joyce and Colbeck patently cannot! And then Christian Porter tells us what a good job they've done! Christian get serious all this red/green tape, and the bodies who both support and are supported by it, has destroyed primary industry returns to the point that there is hardly a farmer, fisher or forester who can afford to employ much needed labour. Destroying productive tax producing jobs to feather bed the bloated bureaucracy has to stop.
John Carpenter
1/04/2015 2:15:06 PM

It's very nice that Mr Porter has been able to deliver such a nice report to the parliament. $25 million however doesn't even classify as a rounding error to the big spenders in the Australian political class. If you really want a make in impact and be an overnight sensation Mr Porter why not repeal the Australian Meat and Livestock Industry Act 1997? You could also wind up MLA which as you know is one of your agencies. Now this would be a real deregulation as opposed to mere window dressing. It would get the dead hand of the government and it's agents (MLA, RMAC, CCA ALEC etc) off our backs.

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