Information key to development

By Hugh Christie on
28 April 2023

So often our farming community finds itself dealing with the fallout of poor planning, a lack of meaningful consultation, and low levels of engagement. This results in farmers finding themselves faced with many difficulties when it comes to the impact of policy implementation, projects and planning decisions across Tasmania.

All Government bodies have Stakeholder and Community Engagement frameworks based on best practice and, as such, collaborative and equitable decision-making with key stakeholders should be the first objective. Whilst this may be the objective of many projects, the reality is too often communities find themselves feeling like an afterthought, of what should be the most important aspect of every new policy development, regulation, or approval process.

This doesn’t mean the TFGA and our members are against development and investment in infrastructure, as the benefits to agriculture from historic investments is clear with improved availability of water, more reliable power supplies and improved roads to transport our produce to market. Rather, our members need to be engaged early to not only understand how the impacts from projects can be minimised (or avoided altogether), but to also be part of and inform the process so that they can make decisions within their business context, rather than having a sub-optimal outcome as they are being engaged when the ‘solution’ has already been identified.

Likewise, whilst we all want to see improved regulatory processes, part of this improvement needs to include working with farmers, and other impacted stakeholders, to understand what is the issue that needs to be addressed to improve ‘customer’ outcomes. Without this, the likelihood of the solution causing unintended consequences increases significantly, which often can be worse than the problem that was trying to be solved in the first place.

Effective outreach is the best way to reduce these risks, which can result in unforeseen costs and impacts, and achievement of successful outcomes. Such practice ensures different perspectives can be heard and concerns from the public and key stakeholders can be actively managed throughout the design and development processes. Meeting and working with farmers and rural communities is the best way to get a feel for the aspects of a policy or project that will hinder our help farmers to be successful and better inform the planning or design of a project, planning scheme, or regulatory framework.

Instead, our members are telling us they often feel that they are given poor and untimely information, resulting in delayed decision-making and negative outcomes for all parties involved.

The desire to see improvements in these interactions continues to be a key focus of the TFGA for the benefits of our members and the broader agricultural sector. This is not only reflected in our continued calls for reviews of how compulsory acquisition powers and compensation frameworks include whole farm impacts are used in projects across Tasmania, including through continued efforts through the National Farmers Federation to push for a national code of conduct for transmission developments and efforts to reduce regulatory burdens on farming operations.

These efforts are not only due to a belief that farmers should be treated with respect, but also recognises the continued need to focus on protecting the ability of all farmers to contribute to sustainable food and fibre production to meet the needs of the communities we are all part of and across the world more broadly.

We are unwavering in this commitment to achieving improved outcomes for Tasmanian farmers, with our strategic plan including a focus on collaboration and engagement. We believe that this collaborative review to strengthen the current practices will build and maintain the foundation for our industry’s growth, sustainability and a profitable future for Tasmanian agricultural businesses.

We provide a united voice

As the largest advocacy group in Tasmania and the only one that focuses exclusively on farming and the rural sector, the future of Tasmanian agriculture is our focus.

Join the TFGA today for a greater future.

Contact our Membership Manager

Kellie Morris