“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’- Ronald Reagan
Several days ago here in a post, “Protecting cropping land from mining, and farmers” I mentioned some of the nasties that were included in a Draft State Planning Policy for Strategic Cropping Land. A number of normal farming activities would be removed from local control and be subject to central government decisions.
Dale Stiler from ‘Just Grounds’ has sent in a link, which makes it clear that this is a whole lot more serious than the issues raised before. Now it appears that an incredible number of activities that farmers could be expected to carry out in the pursuit of diversification, will be illegal on land that is designated “Strategic cropping land.”
The National Farmers Federation is skeptical as to the degree of protection afforded, and Carbon Sense Coalition chairman Viv Forbes, has found serious problems in the draught:
Carbon Sense Coalition chairman Viv Forbes said the policy would stop farmers subdividing their land.
“Any other developments on their blighted land will be banned or difficult,” Mr Forbes said. “Imagine the obstacles should they want to develop a racehorse stud, a feedlot, a new house or a private forest?” he said.
“Farmers will be condemned to be pastoral peasants on cropping land controlled forever, paddock by paddock, by an anti-farming, anti-mining bureaucracy.
“If Queensland’s politicians were really concerned about food security they would not have sterilised millions of acres of grazing land under scrub clearing bans, conservation zones, heritage areas, national parks and other anti-farming bans,” Mr Forbes said.
In an effort to hose down Viv’s criticism, the department involved has confirmed them:
A Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) spokesperson said the framework would not apply to subdivision applications already approved, nor to proposed subdivisions in areas already designated for urban development.
“If the land proposed to be subdivided is, in fact, strategic cropping land and the subdivision will permanently alienate the strategic cropping land, the subdivision will generally not be approved,” they said. Developments like feedlots were unlikely to be approved.
David Leyonhjelm from the LDP, has mentioned that one of the problems with the whole issue is that farmers have little personal control over their own properties, nothing to gain, and much to lose in both mining, and CSG. The situation would be very different were farmers to have some ownership rights over the deposits themselves.
It is no accident that the US has half of all the world’s oil wells, and that its coal seam gas industry is considerably more advanced than ours. A key difference is that landowners have skin in the game – ownership of mineral rights is a primary motivator for exploration and extraction.
For governments, the solution is to create an environment in which a market based approach can emerge. It was government actions preventing such an approach that created the current problem. More government tweaking will not help.
Essentially the heart of the problem here is that ‘public interest’ is allowed to take precedence over private property rights. Where most landholders would have been happy with legislation allowing them to have a say over access to their properties for this purpose, the government has essentially reduced their rights to carry out standard agricultural pursuits