National Farmers' Federation

Reports, Reviews and Recommendations: NFF Calls for Action

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the release of findings from the Australian Government’s Taskforce on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens on Business – Rethinking Regulation, however, the Government’s interim response must actually address the concerns of small business, not just tinker at the edges or, worse still, give rise to yet another review.
“Unnecessary, inflexible and overlapping regulation hinders Australian small business, and hamstrings farmers’ ability to be productive, profitable and sustainable,” NFF President Peter Corish said. “We’ve known this for a long time and the Government has acknowledged as much.
“So the issues the Taskforce are looking at are very important. However, the frustration over these kinds of reports, reviews and recommendations is that they often give business hope but in the end are thin ‘on-the-ground’ for outcomes.
“We welcome moves to make incorporation more cost-effective. However, the NFF wants real, fundamental reform of corporation power issues, particularly in light of importance now placed on company structure in regard to the new WorkChoices program.”
The Taskforce has recommended that Government raise the superannuation guarantee exemption threshold from $450 to $800 per month. The NFF has called for this adjustment over several years, recognising that the administrative costs for many employers of seasonal workers outweigh the actual amount paid to employees.
“So we urge the Australia Government to immediately accept and implement this recommendation,” Mr Corish said. “We note a similar reform was included in the Government’s superannuation amendments in 2002, but was thwarted by the Democrats in the Senate. It’s now time to get on with it.
“We also note that CoAG (Council of Australian Governments) has a work program on regulatory ‘hot-spots’ including chemicals. Overlapping jurisdictional issues in regard to farm chemical control of use and training are a constant frustration to farmers and must be a core area for reform to bring uniformity and certainty to business. This, too, must be acted upon as part of this process.
“The NFF is also focused on the issue of environmental regulation, specifically around native vegetation and biodiversity. The Taskforce identifies this issue, and the Government’s response agrees and pledges to continue to work with the States. So our question to governments is: ‘how and when?’
“Inflexible and overlapping laws, and inconsistencies in the way laws are implemented, is undermining outcomes for small business and farmers and, as several independent expert reports have already shown, the environment as well.
“We look forward to further responses from the Government on these important issues, but we’d also like to welcome tangible results in the near future.”

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