14 November 2023. By AgForce CEO Michael Guerin. 

The olive branch remains outstretched...but we are increasingly nervous.

Despite seeking undertakings that we would be brought into the room and act in the spirit of good faith, we keep waiting for the invitation from some parties.

There’s federal consideration at the moment for proposed legislation in the form of the Nature Repair Market Bill, that Minister Tanya Plibersek is leading and co-designing with Senator Nita Green.

These potential changes reinforce our desire for collaboration because if all parties take up the co-design opportunity around landscape repair, then you have all the elements of the new system aligned behind that.

If the legislation is created based on that co-design, then the on-ground delivery can be engaged with confidence and industry, for example, can sit down much more comfortably beside the NRM groups, which are set up across Australia to do the delivery. Whereas if we don't have that co-design and all of that opportunity and infrastructure, it'll be a less desirable outcome and suboptimal use of taxpayer investment.

We are seeing the Queensland Conservation Council becoming increasingly provocative, and in tandem with aligned lobby groups trying to impose their views on farmers. The QCC announced this week it would increase pressure on those who disregard environmental laws through the formation of the Queensland Conservation Council Ltd (or QCC Ltd), a new entity focused on enforcing the environmental laws in Queensland.

The QCC has no role in delivery, and they're setting up an enforcement arm. They should have no role in that.

We are showing the necessary leadership for all parties to have the strength to sit down around a table, accept we have different views, and find common ground. We can have tough conversations, co-design outcomes, find a rich middle standpoint, and history shows us that with this approach we'll always get a better outcome.

But the QCC getting more and more aggressive just gets the backs of industry up, and takes us away from the table and the opportunity to work together.

Their announcements this week were very inflammatory. That we're a deforestation hotspot, that we can't be trusted, that in the absence of the government or anyone else doing anything, we'll do it ourselves.

This `enforcement arm’, is a pretty scary set of words given they don't have a role in enforcement. Neither do we. That's what the authorities are for.

So while our olive branch remains outstretched, these sort of protestations in recent days risk the chance to work and collaborate together for everyone’s benefit.