Plans to develop a prominent farm in the Kimberley region of Western Australia have been significantly delayed because of red tape.

In 2014, the Western Australian Government selected Matt and Melanie Gray to develop a portion of land in the Ord Valley, with the couple already owning a farm adjacent to the area.

Despite being specifically chosen by the government, over the past two years there has been almost no progress because of regulatory obstacles.

Mr. Gray stated:

“After being named the preferred developer in 2014 we thought that we’d be able to get stuck into the development straight away.”

“Yet it wasn’t until August 2016 that we received a lease, which we are still negotiating as it was written up with no understanding of what the project involved.”

“At the moment we are also waiting on a clearing permit, but our confidence in getting that permit is very low, given the outcomes of a few other clearing permit applications in the Kimberley, like Mowanjum.”

Mr. Gray went so far as to express regret for undertaking the project because of the red tape burden:

“…there is a massive breakdown at the bureaucratic level and we have been fighting it for over two years now.”

“If I had my time again, I would think twice before I wasted my time on the application process.”

The Department of Land (DoL) defended the lengthy delay, stating that “The DoL ensures it (the development) follows proper and fair practice at all times”.

However, the Minister for Regional Development and Lands, Terry Redman, conceded that there were issues with the current regulatory system for land development:

‘The process to lease or purchase Crown land is complex, with a number of statutory requirements that the department and proponents need to address.’

The situation of the Gray family is an all too familiar story of government penalising everyday Australians for engaging in productive economic activity, and the IPA supports streamlining regulatory processes so that people are encouraged, not punished, for increasing Australia’s productivity and prosperity.

By Michael Husek