The Commonwealth Government has released its Green Paper
exploring a range of policy options to expand the competitiveness
of the Australian agriculture sector and its share of the global
market. See the paper
The Green Paper serves to progress the Government's
long-held ambition to take advantage of the changing food demand
profile of the rapidly expanding middle class in Asia. The
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has
predicted that Asia could account for 66% of the world's middle
class by 2030 up from about 30% today. As the Green Paper notes,
"the Government has prioritised agriculture as one of the five
pillars of the economy for good reason". The 700 submissions
received from industry stakeholders earlier this year also
demonstrate the enthusiasm for the opportunities that exist in
The Green Paper discusses policy ideas under 11 separate
categories. Set out in the table below is a summary of:
the key objectives of such policies
select legal and regulatory reforms the Government has done, or
is doing, to pursue these objectives
certain policy ideas which have been proposed by stakeholders
in the submission process.
Select recent and current legal / regulatory reforms
Further proposed reforms
A. Infrastructure Building efficient and cost-effective transport and
communications infrastructure for supply chain enhancements,
opening new markets and innovations in agricultural production.
Implementing the new Port Terminal (Bulk Wheat) Code of
Conduct (effective from September 2014) obliging port terminal
negotiate in good faith with wheat exporters for access to port
disclose information regarding available port terminal
Not discriminate or hinder access to port terminal
Commencement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law aimed at
improving productivity and safety through regulatory
Improving regulation (eg coastal shipping regulations) to
reduce costs faced by producers.
Building new transport infrastructure (including all weather
access rural roads and promoting air freight hubs in regional
Australia) to reduce transport times to markets.
Remove duplication in regulation between States and Territories and
the Commonwealth to improve agricultural competiveness.
Preparation of White Paper on Reform of the Federation –
due to report in 2015.
Reducing red and green tape through the Council of Australian
Consider deregulation in native vegetation and work health and
safety laws and improve efficiency of native title
Implement the Co-operatives National Law to make it easier to
run a co-operative across different states and to issue hybrid
securities to attract external capital.
Competition and Regulation Ensure fairness and transparency in the supply chain
(notably between farmers and wholesalers/retailers) and amend
regulation to create least possible costs for agriculture
'Root and branch' review of the Competition and
Consumer Act 2010 (Harper Review). This is due to report to
Government by March 2015.
Extending unfair contract term protections to small
Considering whether to prescribe the Food and Grocery Code as a
regulation under the Competition and Consumer Act
Improving market competition by increasing price transparency
throughout the domestic supply chain and restoring balance of power
to the producer.
Strengthening competition laws to make it easier to prove
misuse of market power and to remove barriers to consolidating
agribusiness companies – designed to facilitate 'national
champions' of Australian agribusiness.
Facilitate greater use of co-operative structures to increase
farmers' bargaining power.
Finance, business structures and taxation
Improving access to financial, business information and advice and
ensuring the tax system encourages investment.
Concessional loans through Farm Finance Concessional Loans
White Paper on Reform of Australia's Tax System by end of
2015 (Tax White Paper).
Regulatory developments to encourage crowd-sourced equity
Encourage greater institutional investment in agriculture (eg
superannuation products for potential equity in farms or special
concessionally-taxed Government bonds to encourage agricultural
A range of tax concessions to be explored in the Tax White
Paper (eg income tax averaging, zone tax offsets and tax loss
trading for farmers).
Foreign investment Continue to encourage foreign investment to build new
production capacity and ensuring the regulatory framework takes
account of the needs of the agriculture sector.
Register of foreign ownership of agricultural land.
Reforming FIRB scrutiny of agricultural investment proposals
appointing an agriculture industry executive to the FIRB
lowering thresholds for FIRB security of private foreign
purchases of agribusinesses.
Improving transparency by expanding the coverage of the
register of foreign ownership of agricultural land to water and
Education, skills and training, and labour
Expanding the pool of labour servicing agribusinesses by increasing
education, providing geographic and seasonal flexibility and
attracting new entrants.
Vocational, Education and Training (VET) reforms.
Enhanced visa availability including:
Temporary Work (Skilled) visas (subclass 457)
Working Holiday Maker visas (subclass 417).
Financial support for regional education.
Further liberalisation of visa availability including
streamlining application processes and providing clearer pathways
for residency for such visa holders.
Continue to promote drought resilience and risk management
Various government support measures including concessional
loans, tax concessions to manage income variability and
Promote drought preparedness by:
increasing accelerated depreciation for water/fodder
grants and concessions to improve access to insurance.
and natural resource management
Identifying and building necessary water infrastructure and
ensuring sustainable and productive use of natural resources.
One-stop shop for environmental approvals.
Identify new water infrastructure projects.
Reviewing the Water Act 2007.
Providing a 50% p.a. deduction over three years for on-farm
water reticulation infrastructure investment.
Improve functioning and flexibility of water trading
Research, development and extension
Improve productivity by increasing strategic and co-ordinated
research and development.
Investment in various Research Development Corporations (RDCs)
(eg Australian Grape and Wine Authority and Meat & Livestock
Providing R&D Tax Incentives.
Decentralising Government agricultural research functions to
Increase transparency and reduction in costs of RDCs.
Biosecurity Protecting current animal and plant health status to
maintain productivity and access to export markets.
Updating the Quarantine Act 1908 with a new
Pressing for transparent and science-based approaches to
biosecurity in all countries to facilitate market access.
Expand legislative improvements to Export Control Act 1982
and the Australian Meat & Livestock Industry Act
Enhance onshore monitoring including by developing reporting
tools and establishing a public Biosecurity Information System to
Accessing international markets Assist exporters to capture high-value markets by
addressing technical barriers and ensuring trade negotiations
deliver real commercial benefits for the sector.
Concluded Free Trade Agreements with Korea and Japan and
Declaration of Intent with China.
Re-opened markets for live exports in the Middle East and
Improving overseas marketing efforts by, for example:
providing more exporter readiness training
increasing engagement in bilateral and multilateral forums to
promote use of international standards in food regulation.
Submissions on this Green Paper are due by 12 December 2014.
A more deliberative White Paper on Agricultural Competitiveness
in 2015 will build on past and current policies and the proposals
generated by this Green Paper. It will set out the Government's
long-term strategic direction to maintain and increase agricultural
production while securing farm-gate profitability and ongoing
investment and jobs in the agricultural sector.
We encourage all participants likely to be impacted by some or
all of the proposed policy developments, or indeed who have any
interest in Australia's agriculture future, to make submissions
or otherwise engage with the process. If you have any questions, or
would like assistance with any submissions, please contact us. We
will update you once the White Paper is released.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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