They have got you on tape

They have got you on tape

Smart Farmer News
VITAL INFORMATION: Reporting, in full, on not very much.

VITAL INFORMATION: Reporting, in full, on not very much.

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OPINION - Ross Pride gets caught up in the bureaucracy of the Annual Return of Land and Stock form.

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Been busy lately? I'll show you busy.

In the early 16th century, Charles V was Holy Roman emperor, and king of Spain, and archduke of Austria, all by the age of 19.

What he subsequently gave to the world, as well as becoming a role model for teenage over-achievement, was something Australians took to gleefully.

Charlie realised the admin involved in running an operation that big needed to be pretty efficient.

Dossiers on issues of the day were specially prepared - the ones covering everyday matters were bound with string, and important dossiers requiring discussion by the Council of State, were bound with tape. Red tape.

The idea of lots of bureaucratic intervention caught on, and persisted. For example, 500-odd years later, in Mexico, you need six months and a dozen visits to government agencies for a permit to paint your house.

A 2017 World Bank survey asked respondents:

'In your country, how burdensome is it for companies to comply with public administration's requirements?' The respondents were asked to give their country a score between 1, - 'extremely burdensome' - and 7 - 'not burdensome'.

At the top was Singapore with a score of 5.6.

Equal last, the two tied up most frustratingly in red tape, were Brazil and Venezuela with 1.7. Also in the bottom half was Australia, in 80th position with 3.3.

Up our way we've just been asked by a government department to complete and lodge the compulsory Annual Return of Land and Stock, even though we have never had stock on our land.

Under livestock, we will dutifully put an X in the appropriate boxes to report that, no, we do not stock buffalo, camels or ostriches aged over six months. Nor pigs, of any age.

No land is planted to sugarcane, we will confirm.

What is the purpose of collecting this information?

That is the exact question posed on the government website. The answer given is:

'Under the Act, the occupier of a holding is required to lodge an Annual Return of Land and Stock by 31 August each year.'

In other words the information is collected because, um... because, even if there is no information, it needs to be collected, that's why.

We're seeing red, but as required we'll lodge the form. Charles would be impressed.

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