September 6, 2017


Topics: Attending farmers' forum in Wagga during the Henty Machinery Field Days and cutting Government red tape.


JOURNALIST:  You are attending a farmers’ forum during the Henty Machinery Field Days. From your perspective is there anything you want to put on the table?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:  It’s a great opportunity to get farmers’ feedback, particularly farmers from my local Riverina region, and that is why I am so keen to participate in the forum and more to listen than to talk. But certainly wanting to hear farmers’ feedback about red tape issues, about compliance issues, about where bureaucratic overlay is impeding their ability to do business.

What we have done as part of the last Budget was to put $300 million on the table to incentivise State Governments to wherever and whenever possible cut through some of that bureaucracy, some of that overlay, particularly where there’s an overlap between Federal and State jurisdictions that imposes red tape and paperwork on businesses, on farmers, that the people having to fill in the paperwork don’t feel is necessary. They feel they have already done it once, why should they have to do it for another, albiet different, Government agency.

JOURNALIST:  Is there anything specific that has been identified?

MICHAEL McCORMACK:  I am really keen to cut through that environmental red tape. I’d almost call it green tape because there are so many environmental hoops that farmers in particular are being made to jump through. And if State Governments can identify those and say ‘you know what, this is over reach we can ease back here’ we can help farmers get on with the job.

We all know farmers are the best environmentalists, they are the best caretakers of the land. They understand if they ruin or spoil the soil, their waterways, their environment then they won’t have a future.

I have always said, I have said it publicly in the parliament, at forums. I say it privately all the time in conversations with people that farmers are the best caretakers of the land.

So if we can cut through some of that green tape I am all for it.

But I need to hear back from the States. The call has been put out there. It’s been issued to State treasurers, to State small business ministers, indeed to any of the State Parliamentarians: if they have examples of overlap between State and Federal Government I want to hear about it, and if they are willing to come to the table and say ‘we’re happy to cut back on this particular legislation or that particular law’ then there is $300 million there to help ease that pressure on them. If it means they are going to have to cut back on something then there is a $300 million incentive. It’s a good incentive to them to cut through some of that burden they are imposing at the moment on farmers and on small businesses.

In my electorate across the Riverina and Central West there are 15,000 small businesses and a third of them are farmers. They contribute an amazing amount of local product, let alone gross domestic product, so I want to help them every way I can. And that is why I am really looking forward to talking to as many of them as possible.

I am in constant contact with the NSW Farmers, with the National Farmers, with Derek Schoen and others, but also farmers on the ground.

You know, I will pull up when I am driving around the electorate when I see a farmer fencing or mustering stock, lean over the fence and have a conversation with them and ask them how I can help them, how the Government can help them. That is why I am in the job.

I am a farmer’s son, so I fully understand fully well the pressure on farmers. Two of my three brothers-in-law are farmers at Wallacetown and Coolamon, so I am constantly getting feedback about where we can assist.

So I am looking forward to the Henty Machinery Field Days. What better time to conduct one of these forums, and I will be looking forward to hearing some feedback.


Ken Grimson