Monthly Archives: January 2016

MEDIA STATEMENT “On the Federal Environment Department correspondence regarding development approvals for clearing of native vegetation”

15 January 2016

I am concerned that there are activist public servants inside the state and federal environment departments who are not satisfied with the policy agendas of either governments and are looking for ways to circumvent the intentions of both governments.

The letters sent recently to landholders with a valid development approvals for the clearing of native vegetation for high value agriculture provide no clear instructions regarding how to respond. There are no details about whether landholders must make an additional application or what the parameters would likely be assessed.

The lack of information suggests these public servants are attempting to intimidate landholders. It suggests these public servants are running a political agenda.

This letter could have a negative impact on investor confidence, especially in the development of Northern Australia, which is a central policy platform of the Federal Government.

Since we came to government, the Coalition has spent a lot of effort trying to strip away red tape, green tape and blue tape to encourage a stronger business environment and now a couple of public servants with their own political agenda are attempting to wind back these efforts. It’s simply not good enough.

Either this is a some sort of farce coming from a few activist public servants or this is a deliberate policy setting within the environmental departments at the state and federal level to actively resist government policy in relation to development permits.

If this is the case, the Minister needs to take a seriously dim view of this activity and chop a few heads off.

Landholders don’t know what is going on at the moment and the Environment Minister has to provide clarity as to whether landholders should ignore these letters or, failing that, explain what steps landholders need to take to ensure there is no breach of national law.

All landholders want is stability and common sense. It should not be too much to expect that governments provide it.

MEDIA RELEASE – “Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must explain its findings from investigation into Barnawartha saleyard boycott”

7 January 2016

Queensland LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan will seek support from colleagues when parliament resumes for a special hearing of the Federal Senate Inquiry into the Red Meat Processing Sector to examine claims by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that it could find no evidence of collusion between meat processors to boycott the Barnawartha saleyards in February 2015.

Senator O’Sullivan said the special hearing was needed to provide Senators the opportunity to question the ACCC about its investigation processes and how it reached the conclusion there was no evidence of collusion despite nine meat processors failing to appear or buy cattle at the first prime cattle sale at the new Barnawartha saleyards, near Wodonga.

The ACCC found last month that while there was regular communication between processors before the Barnawartha sale, it could not establish evidence there was any breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Given the controversy surrounding the watchdog’s findings, Senator O’Sullivan said it was important the ACCC’s investigation was placed under adequate scrutiny.

“The ACCC claims that its evidence clearly demonstrates the processors communicated to one another in the run up to the Barnawartha sale, yet we’re also supposed to believe that all nine processors independently decided not to attend the Barnawartha sale,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“It is nonsensical to suggest that nine processors separately made the same decision at the exact same time. It defies logic.

“There are just too many question marks hovering over the ACCC’s investigation and I want to know how they reached these conclusions. I think the ACCC should explain itself.”

Senator O’Sullivan said the ACCC’s investigation at Barnawartha has only further weakened rural people’s faith in the watchdog.

With the Federal Government recently forming an Agricultural Enforcement and Engagement Unit within the ACCC, Senator O’Sullivan said there was never a more important time for the ACCC to be held to account.

“The ACCC’s contribution in this space has been unhelpful and I want to know how it reached its conclusions,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“Every beef producer in Australia is watching this Senate Inquiry to see what the final outcome will be.

“This inquiry is about how profits are distributed in the supply chain, especially how farm gate price is impacted.

“The ACCC should be embarrassed that despite all the statutory powers at its disposal, it was still incapable of getting to the bottom of this issue.”