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Second tranche of environmental law reforms announced by Minister Plibersek

Australian farmers welcome staged approach to environment overhaul

Farmers say they'll wait to see the legislation underpinning the Environment Protection Agency and Environment Information Australia before forming a view on the second tranche of environmental law reforms announced by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today.

The National Farmers' Federation has however welcomed the Minister's decision to stage the reforms, allowing more time for scrutiny of broader legislative changes.

NFF President David Jochinke said the move was appropriate given what was at stake. "Our members have said for years that the current Act is broken. It's hard to engage with producers who want to do the right thing, and in some instances it's preventing best practice management of the landscape. Unpicking this tangled mess of overlapping state and federal rules and making it work better for everyone takes time, so we're pleased to see the Minister deciding not to rush this through."

Mr Jochinke explained that what farmers are calling for is a more effective partnership with Federal regulators. "What we don't want to see is these new Federal bodies charging off into the bush waving a big stick. The consistent message from farmers to the government in this process is that they don't understand the complex Federal system, and how it works alongside various state environment laws."

"What we need to see – including from these new bodies – is a much more positive and proactive engagement with farmers, aimed at helping them comply rather than catching them out. As custodians of over half Australia's landmass, if this new system doesn't recognize the good work farmers are doing in terms of managing the landscape while also producing food and fiber for the community, then it just doesn't work."

"It needs to recognize that agriculture is an existing land-use and the intersection with matters of national environmental significance is complex and dynamic, the law needs to be viewed through this lens. We look forward to working constructively with Minister Plibersek and her Department to ensure that we reach a positive outcome for farmers and the environment," Mr Jochinke concluded.

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