Farm rights miss out

18 Dec, 2002 10:00 PM

WA farm groups have accused State and Federal governments of playing political football with property rights, after the matter failed to get a banner at the Council of Australian Governments meeting last week.

The matter was flagged months ahead of time as a key issue on the CoAG agenda, but States pushed back discussion until April next year, when the governments would meet again.

Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson was refused the opportunity to brief States on a property rights paper compiled with National Farmers Federation.

WAFarmers Federation policy director Andy McMillan said state groups shared the frustration and disappointment voiced by NFF after CoAG.

He said WAFarmers had lobbied the WA Government before the meeting to ensure farmers' rights were reconised.

"Everyone is paying lip service to it and that is particularly because the colours of the different governments," he said.

"It is political football again and it is not fair to farmers."

Mr McMillian said WAFF would urge the Federal Government to hold back national competition funds until States recognised rights and committed to compensation arrangements.

"We hope WA takes a leadership role and doesn't hold back just because others states won't agree to it," he said.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association spokesman David Klem said he suspected governments had put property rights in the "too hard basket".

He said it was clearly a fight over funds, with state governments reluctant to foot the bill for compensation.

NFF president Peter Corrish said State Governments had abdicated their responsibilities to natural resource management and farmers were the victims of their inadequacy.


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