Yesterday’s story in the Weekly Times about the plight of gold miner Neville Perry – who has been told to pay $1.25 million to the Victorian Government to remove 60 trees from his bush block – highlights the inane red tape native vegetation laws that are forcing more burdensome productive agricultural and mining activity out of the state.

Perry has now abandoned his mine completely. Victorian Farmers Federation land management chairman Gerald Leach said that “I know lots of miners who won’t invest in Victoria any more. They’ve gone to other states, and these biodiversity laws are just out of control.”

The Victorian Government last week announced a review into regulation and red tape when it comes to the retail sector. Victorian Government Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis said of the review:

“Regulation is vital to keeping Victoria’s workplaces and services safe and secure, but it is equally important when we can remove it, we do. We don’t want to saddle the business community with an unnecessary burden or drain in compliance costs.”

Perhaps they ought to look at the vast amount of red tape when it comes the state’s native vegetation laws, which impacts heavily on Victoria’s agricultural and mining sectors.  

The recent Productivity Commission Draft Report on the regulation of Agriculture is a good starting point. Draft recommendation 3.2 recommends the development of market-based approaches to native vegetation legislation, with an understanding that similar environmental outcomes could be achieved with less red tape.

As IPA Research Fellow Darcy Allen wrote in Queensland Country Life there must be a happy medium between protecting the environment and encouraging economic development. It is clear in light of the Neville Perry case that this balance has not been struck.