The newly-released independent review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act - conducted by a panel led by Dr Ken Henry - risks a return to the bad old days where bureaucrats saw farm productivity as an environmental threat.
Despite Australian farmers being recognised as incredibly good stewards of the landscape, working to produce healthy plants and healthy animals with world-leading sustainability credentials, this statutory review presents a schism for agriculture and the environment, increasing both red and green tape and time- and energy-consuming compliance.
This report has been done in a vacuum of understanding, and the figures used to justify this overt bias against agriculture are just plain wrong: they rely on inaccurate mapping, and the result is garbage in, garbage out.
Recommendations of no-go zones for agriculture, with no mention of practicality or compensation are irresponsible and will undermine investment in agriculture, at a time when production is paramount.
In finding the present legislation is not meeting its intended purpose, Dr Henry's report quotes reasons such as weeds out-competing native plants, population growth, fires, and climate change.
We have been telling government for a long time that their land is full of feral animals and weeds, fuelling fires in unmanaged public lands that kill animals by the billions.
When we look at bushfires such as Black Summer, we see 90 per cent of the five million hectares burned were public lands - set asides and species on private land survived because that land is well-managed and cared for.
But instead of rural cooperation, which could help mitigate climate change, Dr Henry favours a big stick, and wants to see compliance powers that would give authorities the right to enter a farmer's property for enforcement at any time without notification.
Ministers have said they want to work with our industry, well here's their chance: Government should reject this misleading report, and instead encourage farming and the environment to work as one so we can meet the need for affordable food and clothing without unnecessary red and green tape.
- Xavier Martin, NSW Farmers president