Allison Adani*, The Sunday Mail (Qld) July 7, 2018 10
CAMPBELL Newman made a fatal error when he sacked 14,000 Queensland public servants.
It really should’ve been at least five times that number.
His bold attempt to save the Queensland taxpayers billions and to sharpen frontline government services by eliminating a quagmire of unnecessary red tape in middle management failed miserably.
But never fear. Many of those clowns are now back at the public circus on hefty contracts (with their previous redundancy safely tucked away in a term deposit).
Alternatively, they’ve happily moved on to brighter horizons and been duly replaced (almost three-fold) by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
How do I know? Because as a lowly ranked public servant I have to deal with the frustration of that increasingly inefficient, bloated, empowered and entitled middle management every moment of every workday.
Newman’s noble attempts unfortunately created a voting bloc of angry left-leaning union-fuelled sycophants who carry out the bidding of whatever bumbling, stumbling, mumbling minister they dutifully work under.
Now no Queensland politician of any stripe would dare go anywhere near the over 220,000-strong public circus or suggest “savings” or “efficiencies”.
Queensland has unconsciously handed over control to the unions who are the actual string-pullers of state government.
A risk-averse, gutless government has resulted in a nil-risk public service full of yay-saying nodding dogs.
You can catch us every weekday morning marching in perfect stride, three abreast along George or Albert streets in corporate dress and running shoes.
We disappear into our office fortresses as we proudly don our government IDs complete with PC rainbow-coloured lanyards (we are instructed not to wear ID in public lest we be accosted by kidnappers or terrorists).
The glass security doors glide open as we obsequiously submit to another day of self-perpetuating chaos.
At our designer standup desk bubble, we feel safe in the knowledge that our jobs are secure and our superannuation is accruing exponentially.
All of this while Roma burns; (or any other town outside of the southeast corner actually).
A rigorous regime of learnt helplessness trains us to dutifully close our eyes to an increasingly toxic culture where bullying by workplace sociopaths is rewarded by promotion and plaudits by the powerful.
We amuse ourselves with almost daily morning teas in our “pods”, serving up tasteless gluten-free fare so the vegans and coeliacs are catered for above all others (not that they ever actually lower their exacting standards to indulge themselves).
Within an apparently “caring, equitable, inclusive” environment we have an officially sanctioned, incredibly worthy, ultra-PC “cause of the week”.
It is always front of mind courtesy of a propagandist barrage of emails, posters, screensavers and foyer displays (complete with free stuff like pens, notepads and lollies).
Apparently, the biggest blight on the public circus landscape are white, middle-aged males who are treated with increasing disdain.
This endemic attitude is perpetrated by Annastacia’s “petticoat government” (as my dear old Dad would say).
Now at less than 35 per cent of the public circus, men have targets on their foreheads, courtesy of a recruitment process that is obviously skewed against them (unless they exhibit some obvious diversity or a serious disability).
There is lots of talk about “Girl Power” and high-fives around the corridors as fan-girls celebrate the latest feats of valour by Annastacia, Jackie, Grace (x2), Yvette and the lolly pink-lipsticked dragon-slayer and Minister for Everything (or nothing) – Kate Jones.
Of course, those of us girls who refuse to join in on the crowing and cooing are ostracised from the all-important Friday afternoon “woine toime” at the pub where all the real business (i.e. gossip) gets done.
Management in cahoots with HR, design selection criteria that renders it virtually impossible for anyone other than insiders or worded-up mates and relatives to get a look-in on jobs. The process requires a “Da Vinci Code” style of specific language and buzzwords that only allows for mindless box-ticking by cobbled-together selection panels.
The Government points proudly to its “Working for Queensland” survey which apparently shows all of us in the circus delighted with our lot in life.
The problem is that everyone is terrified to speak out truthfully as the mandatory questions in the supposedly anonymous survey easily identify individual respondents.
The “code of conduct” with its very strict rules and regulations is used as a big stick by management, effectively smothering any acting or thinking creatively or offering innovative solutions to Queensland’s increasingly complex problems.
This all helps breed an environment of mistrust, backstabbing and an obsession with holidays, retirement plans or the golden public circus panacea – sick leave.
I’ve taken to collecting “early retirement as a result of sickness” stories with an astonishing list of excuses. (Getting taken away in an ambulance from anywhere near George, William or Albert streets is advised for maximum dramatic effect).
Depression and anxiety are rife, but with little choice and fear of the non-cloistered world outside we stay put, hating our jobs, hating our colleagues and hating our lives.
So what does someone like me do? Hope for a change of government in Queensland? (I wish!) Stay and descend further and further into the malaise? Or just leave?
Well, no. The wages are good, the super is great and besides, I’d miss all those yummy morning teas.
For a country which has benefited immensely from the liberal international order and modern economic development, Australia has done remarkably little to facilitate the development of some of its own territory.
Northern Australia – usually defined as everything above the Tropic of Capricorn – has always been the poor relation of the more densely-populated areas of New South Wales, Victoria, and southern Queensland.
Although it accounts for roughly half of Australia’s landmass, it is home to only 5.5% of the population, and generates only 11.7% of GDP. And while the harsh climate and lack of infrastructure linking it to the rest of the country pose challenges, there are ample economic opportunities to be unlocked by a government with the vision to create effective policy.
The vision set out for the north of Australia has so far failed to get underway; though things looked positive during the mining boom, a strategy for long-term development and success needs to be implemented. The north, with its ports, agriculture and abundant untapped primary resources, has huge potential to grow its population, improve employment, and support emerging markets in Asia.
Change appeared to be on the horizon in 2015, when the Australian government released the inspiring-sounding Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia which outlined that:
“It is not the Commonwealth Government’s role to direct, or be the principal financier of, development. Developing the north is a partnership between investors (local and international investors who provide capital and know-how) and governments (that create the right investment conditions).”
While the document set a promising tone, it has yet to translate into effective policy. One outcome of the White Paper was the establishment of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, an initiative which, in theory, operates in partnership with businesses to develop vital infrastructure. In the two years since the initiative was established, it has approved just two loans totalling $23.98 million – a tiny fraction of the $5 billion allocated when it was created.
Rather than trying to develop the north by government edict, it’s time for a different approach, ideally the use of Special Economic Zones. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are specific regions within a nation which have tax, tariff, and other regulatory incentives to promote investment. While SEZs are not a guarantee of success, Northern Australia is a perfect example of a region that could benefit from them.
Establishing SEZs in Northern Australia would allow for the sort of business-led development the government called for back in 2015. A streamlined regulatory process, including reformed labour market regulations, and reduced business and personal income tax rates will encourage businesses and individuals to move north.
The trouble is, the Australian Constitution explicitly prohibits the creation of such zones in the States. And while the constitution can be amended, it very rarely is.
Fortunately, a significant part of the region is the Northern Territory. Unlike states, territories are the domain of the federal parliament, meaning an SEZ is perfectly feasible. SEZs provide a testing ground for changes in tax and regulation, and this could be done in the Northern Territory. If successful, zones could then be created in the rest of the north if the Commonwealth gave states power over regulation and tax rates.
In the 2015 white paper, the government stated that it would not create a Special Economic Zone in the north because it wanted to implement reforms “which are in the national scope” – this has hampered the growth of the north and is completely meaningless.
John McLaren of Charles Darwin University has argued that if the government is serious about developing Northern Australia, it needs to consider tax reform. McLaren argues that without taxation benefits the north will not attract investment and will remain relatively undeveloped.
The need for action is obvious. Since 2015 Australia has fallen in The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, while the Northern Territory is 10th out of Australia’s 13 regions in terms of contribution to GDP growth over the past three decades.
This is especially frustrating as both the Territory and Northern Australia as a whole have huge potential in primary and extractive industries, tourism, and agriculture. Given its geography, there is also ample scope to enhance Australia’s trade with its neighbours.
With 11 of its top 15 trading partners in Asia, that matters for both the Australian economy and emerging economies in the region.
SEZs in Northern Australia would encourage investment from all over the world and enhance Australia’s already exports of agricultural products and primary resources, helping to provide food and infrastructure which Asia needs.
Encouraging the development of the north will also lead to greater connectivity by establishing a major city on the north coast, much closer to the Asian capitals than Sydney or Perth. A feasibility report has been published by Australian Venture Consultants who have argued the case for establishing the north-western town of Broome as a major city in the north. It already has the basic infrastructure needed to establish a hub in the region, and its geography, seaport, and international airport make it an ideal civic centre to further develop as the effective “Capital of the North”.
It is time for politicians to translate their warm words into meaningful action and give the long-neglected north the attention it deserves. Should they do so, the benefits for both Australia and its neighbours would be substantial.
Executive Chairman of the Hancock Prospecting Group, Roy Hill and S. Kidman & Co
American Chamber of Commerce in Australia’s (AmCham) 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner
Friday 25 May 2018, Adelaide
Thank you April for such a lovely and warm introduction.
Good evening Governor Hieu Van Le, Mrs Le, Premier Marshall, Acting US Ambassador James Carouso, our Kidman partner Mr Gui, Minister Canavan, Senator Bernardi, other Members of Parliament, distinguished guests and friends.
It is an honour to be here with you tonight to mark AmCham’s 50th anniversary. I am also happy to be back in Adelaide – an area I always enjoy visiting.
Can we please start with a very big round of applause for AmCham as they mark their 50-year milestone?
This is a memorable weekend in Adelaide as tomorrow night is the sold out celebration of the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s 90th anniversary – a great organisation that does so much for our rural communities.
And, can I also acknowledge new South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Mr Gui who are both in the audience tonight. It is wonderful to welcome you both here.
Mr Gui, our Kidman & Co business partner, is also the person who brought AFL football to China for the first time last year and just over a week ago, the second AFL match in China was played.
Congratulations to Port Adelaide on your second win in China!
As April mentioned, Hancock Prospecting first became a member of AmCham in 1994 and we are delighted to be part of your organisation.
AmCham is an important voice between the USA and Australia assisting commerce, investment and people-to-people links between our two nations.
Australia and the United States share a historic alliance and July 4th this year marks 100 years of mateship between our countries.
It was back on the 4th of July 1918 during the Battle of Hamel in Northern France that for the first time in US history, elements of the US Army were commanded operationally by non-American officers, including Australia’s Sir John Monash.
Australia is also the only country in the world that has fought side by side with the United States in every battle for the last 100 years.
In turn, the USA has done much to protect our country, including during the Second World War, in our dire hours of need. Thank you America, is a huge understatement, but should long be remembered.
Last year on the USS Intrepid in New York, I was very fortunate to hear President Trump speak about the strong bonds between our countries and briefly outline his vision for America.
As President Trump says, America will forever be “a nation of pioneers and patriots, risk takers and renegades, aviators and astronauts. We crave adventure and achievement, exploration and enlightenment.
The United States, under President Trump’s leadership, is showing everyone they are open for business and investment, and truly on the way to making the USA great again.
In America, President Trump has slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and government red tape is being cut, with the Trump administration slashing 22 regulations for every new one.
All we have to do is to look at what is happening across the Pacific Ocean to see that cutting company taxes and decreasing tape is good for the economy, small business owners, workers, the unemployed, individuals and families.
Isn’t it exciting what is happening now in the USA.
Here are some exciting facts, much more exciting than fake news:
The unemployment rate fell below 4 per cent for the first time in nearly 20 years;
Unemployment claims are at their lowest level in nearly 50 years;
Over 3 million jobs have been created in a year;
Business optimism at an all-time high;
The stock market has repeatedly reached record highs;
Investment is strong and rising;
Wages are rising with the usual weekly paycheck for the median worker rising by its fastest rate in nearly a decade;
Consumer confidence at a near 18-year high, beating predictions;
The unemployment rate for African-Americans and Hispanics has fallen to record lows; and
Female unemployment is at a near two decade low.
President Trump said earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs and your investments to the United States this is especially true because we have undertaken the most extensive regulatory reduction ever conceived. Regulation is stealth taxation. The U.S., like many other countries, has unelected bureaucrats, and we have — believe me, we have them all over the place — and they’ve imposed crushing and anti-business and anti-worker regulations on our citizens with no vote, no legislative debate and no real accountability in America. Those days are over… We are freeing our businesses so they can thrive and flourish we are creating an environment that attracts capital, invites investment and rewards production. America is the place to do business, so come to America where you can innovate, create, and build.”
President Trump, when addressing the National Republican Congressional Committee Dinner in March, also said: “We’ve also ended the crushing onslaught of federal and other regulation. That’s a big deal… some people consider what we’ve done on regulation as important and some even more important than the tremendous tax cuts because the regulations were killing our country. Together, we have set a record for cutting the red tape — passing a record number of bills to permanently remove job-killing regulations. All over the country, they’re building now where they had no chance of getting going.”
President Trump is backing up his words with actions. This is the kind of economic leadership we need here in Australia from our politicians and governments.
The US under his leadership, is showing everyone they want investment and all of the associated benefits that go with it of sustainable jobs, higher living standards, higher take home pay after tax and bringing people out of unemployment and self-esteem destroying welfare, to restoring their lives with employment.
Having lived in mainly Texas in America with my American husband during the 1980’s, then in the early 1990’s in Massachusetts, and enjoyed recent visits, it’s exciting to see the excitement of many Americans about their country and its growing opportunities under its current leadership, making America great again.
Small business in particular are feeling very positive about the future and President Trump.
It’s sometimes forgotten that all large businesses – be that Apple, Amazon or American Express – all start off small.
We all should know that one of the fundamental elements of a strong economy is a thriving small business sector, so it is very encouraging to see small business optimism at its highest point in more than 30 years according to the largest small business association in the US.
President Trumps’ reforms have also been good for wages. Small business employees saw their wages grow in April at the strongest rate in more than two years, large companies such as Home Depot and Verizon have given their staff bonuses and raises. Such raises and bonuses being more possible when taxes and the expensive burden of government are being reduced. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that annual American household income will be boosted.
A double win for hard-working Americans and business!
Well, here is where I’d like to say, ‘and your friends across in Australia are keenly watching the benefits less tax and less red tape bring, and are rapidly following suit, not with words and promises for the future, but action.’
I should then be able to sit down, with expressing huge thanks to President Trump for such leadership.
Very sadly for Australians and our future, no.
So, what has this fourth generation Australian done?
I started Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV) some six plus years ago, with my friend Imants and like-minded Australians.
ANDEV has remarkably similar policies to President Trump, recommending cutting taxes and tape to encourage investment and growth.
We were delighted all three major parties agreed pre elections to introduce such policies federally.
I wrote a book, Northern Australia and Then Some, which preached such policies, and launched this and its second edition, around Australia, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, and others kindly launched elsewhere.
With federal government permission, I started national days for mining and more recently, agriculture and their related industries.
I’ve continued giving speeches around the country, and for years have been a regular feature writer for Australian Resources and Investment, and written a second book, From Red Tape to Red Carpet, borrowing famous words from another great leader I admire, for his slashing of red tape, and endeavours to raise the living standards of his people, Indian Prime Minister Modi.
Goodness, if Prime Minister Modi can slash red tape in his country at federal levels, with some states following through, after British and USSR big government, big bureaucracy influence and notorious Indian government red tape, wouldn’t you think it would be a relatively easy task to do in Australia!?
But no, there’s talk, and in Prime Minister Abbott’s time, tape was cut for charities and childcare, but tape really needs to be cut to help the economy, investment and hence living standards. Yes, those two words should be more often linked, investment and living standards, as raising living standards depends upon investment.
The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has done some good research on red tape, and found, that there was far less red tape in the anti-business Whitlam government times, than there is today, and that this certainly cannot only be blamed on the Labor Party.
Indeed, far from that.
Today, we have more red tape, and as a consequence, together with high taxation which supports big government, there is less investment pro rata, than under the Whitlam government, when investment dried to a trickle.
And yes, I’ve supported the IPA in their important work looking at the red tape problem, and reducing the huge costs of government in this country, and I wish more business leaders would follow suit, given the very real importance of this.
The latest Rich List, which is often described as the hate list, is out and there are many of these estimators these days, but it would be great to see more of those on such lists doing far more to support and try to progress both reducing tape and taxes.
Especially now that Prime Minister Modi and President Trump have led the way, and the very beneficial results of such reductions are clear to see.
Unfortunately, Australians have governments that can use their increasing power to the detriment of those who speak out, be that via increasing tax audits, ASIC, withholding or delaying approvals, which can have huge consequences.
So huge thanks to those brave enough to speak out, to help our country and its future, and let’s all remember, “countries get the government they deserve!”
Let us try to improve on this in Australia!
In case you think it does not matter to me, the consequences of speaking out in the interests of our country, we currently have more than seven billion dollars to repay for the mega Roy Hill project. This project needed more than 4000 approvals, permits and licences, pre-construction, plus more for construction. More are required to increase our capacity to 60 million tonnes per annum, important in this uncertain reduced iron ore price situation, especially with such huge debt obligations.
And after paying top dollar to ensure the iconic Fossil Downs station in WA stays in Australian hands, a station which two huge rivers run through, but without reliable access to that water, only about one third of the station can be used, cattle must have water, yes, we and others in the Kimberley’s need access to such water.
The Fitzroy River for instance, has only very few water licenses, so more than 99 percent of the Fitzroy flows uselessly to the sea. That’s equivalent for an average year, filling the huge Sydney Harbour 14 times.
Why do we really need to have further restrictions on environmental grounds? With even a few more percent of that water able to be accessed, we could grow crops, and reliably allow more water to be available to grow herds, creating more jobs and revenue for the debt-ridden state of WA.
And if you think, Australia already has a huge cattle industry, does it? Look at Brazil, a similar sized country, yet it has approximately ten times the head of cattle we have.
Look at Queensland, a much smaller state than West Australia, you’d expect west Australia would have far more cattle, wouldn’t you. No, Queensland has more than 10 million head of cattle and West Australia, approximately 2 million head.
Cattle need assured water to survive.
Our company still invests in Australia, and has made huge investments in Kidman to bring it up to our Hancock properties levels, which I’ve already spoken about in other forums, including investing in technology such as digitalised UHF communications systems, solar pumps, improved weaner cradles and more, all to help management and safety and cattle.
But like many other companies with Australia’s high government costs and burdens of red tape, our Australian company has been forced to also look overseas for its investment, and future business ventures.
One of these I thought might have some interest to AmCham, with both America’s and Australia’s huge agricultural industries, and consequent need for fertiliser, and that is our move towards Sirius Minerals.
In 2016, Hancock Prospecting committed to making its first major overseas investment in Britain.
Sirius Minerals is developing the world’s largest deposit of polyhalite, a rare mineral containing four (potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium) of the six macro-nutrients used in multi-nutrient plant fertilizers.
Located in North Yorkshire, this project will involve constructing a new mine, building a 37km underground conveyor system, developing a granulation facility and upgrading port facilities. Its initial production capacity is 10 million tonnes per annum, with the potential to reach 20Mtpa through subsequent phases of development.
This project will deliver a new and natural product, which fits with Hancock’s long-term investment in agriculture and will provide a product of value to many Australian farmers. Some of its produce will also be available for international markets.
As I’m in South Australia, may I ask, wasn’t Sir Sidney an outstanding example of an Australian entrepreneur?
Sir Sidney at age 13 with little education, left his home near Adelaide with only a few shillings in his pocket, the clothes on his back, a thin rug rolled up with a rope and his one-eyed horse Cyclopes who he bought himself.
From there, he worked on and bought his first station, just before the turn of the century, and built up the largest pastoral empire in Australia and the world.
My grandfather, James Nicholas, was a friend and business partner with Sir Sidney Kidman and they held some stations together.
James Nicholas brought to then young Sidney Kidman’s attention that he’d heard some men were finding minerals out in country areas, and told his young friend, that meant they’d need supplies, mail, coaches and horses to pull.
My grandfather said he didn’t have enough horses and would need more. They collaborated on establishing and rapidly expanding an extensive passenger, mail and supplies coach business that serviced outback areas, across Australia such as Broken Hill, Wentworth, Booligal, Milparinka, and Innamincka.
As my grandfather said in The Sunday Times in 1925: “My old coaching partner, Sid Kidman, now Sir Sidney… he is a good sort.”
We plan to build on the historic legacy of my great grandfather, my grandfathers and Sir Sidney Kidman by building our Hancock and S. Kidman & Co properties into one of the world’s top agribusiness by driving exports of improved Kidman beef and investing in, and after approvals, implementing practical technology, and industry-leading practices.
At Kidman, we are not taking any profits from the business. Rather, we are investing all of our profits from last year and this year into producing happier and healthier cattle, better conditions for station staff and station management, and technological advancements.
For instance, we are also trailing drones on our properties to monitor factors such as cattle movements, dam levels and fences for example. Drones have been used very successfully in the mining industry and we are adapting the usage of them across to agriculture.
With the recent change in government, South Australia has a timely opportunity to build its agriculture and compete strongly with Australia’s other leading agricultural states.
Unfortunately, one factor holding us and many other agribusinesses back from further investing in our businesses, are expensive, time-delaying, onerous and duplicated government regulations.
In South Australia, two areas of regulation – water and transportation – are hampering agribusiness from growing and operating more productively.
As we should know, access to water is an animal welfare issue yet, unfortunately, governments still make it difficult and costly to obtain water licences and approvals to build and develop new water points.
Additional water points across stations stop cattle having to walk long distances in the heat between existing watering points, and is a means of better utilizing our properties.
For example, even building a dam on your station requires multiple approvals. We’re not talking dams the size of football fields but dams, in some cases, with similar circumference as your tables, need onerous and multiple approvals in order to be built.
At Innamincka Station, our Kidman & Co property in the north-east of South Australia, it took us 10 months, or approximately 300 days to get approval from Adelaide bureaucrats to install a single bore.
Just to install a simple bore, you must achieve multiple layers of approvals from the government that may include cultural, national park, native vegetation and other aspects.
Now, Innamincka is not a new station – it dates back to the 1860s and it has been held by Kidman for more than 100 years. It is also designated as a regional reserve resulting in extra regulation and needing to complete annual pastoral paperwork. So, the government departments already should know a significant amount about Innamincka, they receive regular reports. Yet, we are still required to go through slow, duplicated and costly regulations to do things that are in the animals and the stations interests.
Furthermore, on some key outback routes in South Australia, cattle producers are still only allowed to haul up to two trailers between stations and to meatworks, not the three trailers permitted on outback roads in the Northern Territory, West Australia and Queensland. This restriction results in extra and unnecessary costs per head of cattle.
Only recently have trucks pulling three trailers (each trailer carrying approximately 40 head of cattle) been able to travel along certain roads in South Australia.
Trucks pulling three trailers from Queensland into South Australia can only get as far as Port Augusta, approximately 300km to the north of Adelaide, before having to be broken up because of South Australian regulations.
The breaking up of road trains often involves a layover somewhere where cattle need to be herded off trucks into yards and then re-loaded back onto trucks. This off-loading and re-loading is stressful for cattle, especially in the heat.
In addition, we are not allowed to drive our trucks pulling three trailers anywhere near
the town of Dublin, which is around 70km north of Adelaide, even though it is South Australia’s main livestock selling centre. These trucks have to be broken up.
Hauling three trailers allows for more livestock to be transported in a more efficient manner, reducing the number of trucks on the road and reducing truck journeys by a third.
Finally, South Australia also has further opportunities to attract investment in agriculture if it does not enact damaging policy such as what has sadly happened in Queensland recently.
The introduction of complex and costly vegetation management legislation will hamper Queensland’s ability to produce sustainable food, and grain for our growing population.
This legislation, which unfairly restricts how land can be managed in the most ideal way for the environment, and livestock, will have impacts well beyond the farm.
Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan, who is in the audience tonight, is right when he says “like foresters and fishermen before them, farmers are now being demonised by some environmental activists – no longer portrayed as caring custodians of the land but rather as greedy wreckers of the environment.”
There is a simple principle that this legislation disregards: pastoralists and farmers know their land, and how best to care for it.
Even better than bureaucrats sitting in town offices far away! The farmer’s very livelihoods depend on it!
Much farming and pastoral land is passed down through generation to generation so those on it have a strong incentive to look after it, and it’s that generations of first-hand, practical and sensible land management knowledge that enables the pastoralists and farmers to know how best to treat and use their land.
With drought, floods, fires, isolation, distance from city amenities, and difficulty in attracting and retaining staff, pastoralists and farmers already have enough to deal with. Many are small or family businesses without administrative head offices in capital cities. They do not need further onerous city red tape about when and how they can use and care for their land.
Queensland is Australia’s number one agriculture producing state but with these laws, it leaves a huge opportunity for South Australia.
If Queensland and West Australia continue down their current paths of burdening the agricultural industry, and South Australia heads down a path of red tape repeal, and lowering those taxes and licence fees within its control, South Australia could see investment flow to it, and, an exciting future.
And no need to take my word for it, I’ll leave on screen, what’s happening in the USA, with tape and tax cuts!
Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Agriculture and the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association have joined forces to explore whether there is appetite to create a group which could work with the State Government to help shape its vision for the Fitzroy River.
An invitation to discuss the potential for forming a steering group has been issued to key stakeholders who would be affected by the State Government’s Fitzroy River election commitments.
The commitments involve creation of the Fitzroy River National Park and the development of a management plan for the Fitzroy catchment, incorporating a water-allocation plan to ensure the long-term health of the river.
As part of its commitments, the Government has also stated the Fitzroy River and its tributaries will not be dammed.
Pastoralists in the area are concerned that, aside from stifling further economic progress, the reclamation of land and preventing livestock from accessing drinking water by fencing off the river could cause productivity losses amounting to tens of millions of dollars.
Although there is no detail yet on planned boundaries for the national park, because of their locations Mrs Rinehart’s Fossil Downs and Liveringa stations, and the Harris family’s Gogo Station, are expected to be among the biggest losers from the Government’s national park plans.
Hancock Agriculture would not comment yesterday.
The catchment management plan, meanwhile, could affect up to 48 pastoral leases.
A letter sent by the KPCA on Tuesday invited pastoralists, Aboriginal traditional owners, environmental groups and some government agencies to attend an initial exploratory meeting on June 22 at Fitzroy Crossing.
Alastair Shields, most recently chief executive of the Northern Territory Department of Tourism and Culture, will act as independent chair of the meeting.
The planned evening meeting follows a community consultation started by the McGowan Government in March, which involved a meeting in the area hosted by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, Water Minister Dave Kelly, and Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt.
Traditional land owners and representatives of Aboriginal groups, pastoralists, environmental organisations, government and industry took part.
With a mammoth and ever-increasing cash pile there is no good reason for Australia’s richest person, and the 85th-ish richest person walking the planet, not to be pretty relaxed.
If Gina Rinehart appears more laid-back than usual it is probably because a few months ago she was able to tell the world her Roy Hill iron ore mine had started making money.
Lots and lots and lots of money — which is how she made Bloomberg’s Robin Hood Index.
Published earlier this year, the annual index shows how many days the richest person of each country could hypothetically keep their governments running.
With the Federal Government burning through $1.494 billion a day just to keep the lights on, Bloomberg estimates Mrs Rinehart’s $16 billion net worth could keep things in Australia ticking over for 11 days.
The world’s richest person, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, could use his $99 billion to run the US for five days.
Cyprus’ John Fredriksen could run his country for 441 days with his $10.4 billion but China’s Jack Ma would have spent his $45.5 billion in just four days.
The problem is Mrs Rinehart might not have the cash on hand to bail out Australia, which would have to hope Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting keep sending shiploads of iron ore to Asia.
At least 90 per cent of Mrs Rinehart’s wealth is tied up in her Roy Hill and Hope Downs iron ore joint venture, and in her family’s right to royalties from most of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron ore operations.
The guess of the crew behind WA’s Rich List is that Australia would have to get by on $6 million less a day if it was to tap into Mrs Rinehart’s cash-flow.
This means Australia would have to cut its annual spend by more than 99 per cent a day, meaning Federal Parliament would have to meet by telephone if they had the money to keep going.
Unsurprisingly, Mrs Rinehart again topped this year’s, with our slightly less impressive estimate of a $12.93 billion, still up on last year’s $10.52 billion.
The Rich List estimate of Mrs Rinehart’s wealth allocates a quarter of her flagship Hancock Prospecting to her four children.
Production at Roy Hill may have tentatively started production a couple of years earlier but it was not until November 2017 that Roy Hill Holdings celebrated its maiden annual profit and marked the first full year of commercial production from the $US10 billion mine.
The bottom-line profit of $523 million vindicated Mrs Rinehart’s decision to go it alone and fulfil her family’s dream of owning its own iron ore mine.
Roy Hill Holdings, 70 per cent of which is owned by Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, recorded sales revenue of $2.3 billion on selling about 33 million tonnes of iron ore for the year. It had achieved its targeted run rate capacity of 55 million tonnes a year.
Four years after painstakingly stitching together funding for the project from Japan’s Marubeni, South Korea’s Posco and China Steel Corporation — and 60 years after her father Lang claimed he had discovered the world’s biggest iron ore deposit — Mrs Rinehart had done it.
She could now turn to other things, such as cows and politics.
A year after buying Australia’s biggest cattle business, S. Kidman and Co, Mrs Rinehart ramped up her exposure to the sector by boosting her Australian herd to serve up more premium steak to discerning customers in China.
On the political front, Mrs Rinehart this year proved she was a chip off the old block when it came to making her thoughts known to MPs. She spent Christmas Day penning a 700-word email to Premier Mark McGowan, blasting him for daring to mess with funding for the Schools of the Air.
The scathing transcript noted that “… the principles of equity and universal access that have underpinned education in Australia for many decades have been abandoned with this shameful decision”.
Mrs Rinehart didn’t limit her activism to parish pump politics. Late last year she called on Australian governments to follow the examples of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in creating a more internationally competitive environment by cutting company taxes and red tape.
Australia’s wealthiest woman is on a crusade, and she has the red tape choking the agricultural sector in her sights. If the sector is to survive and prosper, says Gina Rinehart, government must urgently cut the regulatory burden.
Rinehart says that while there are opportunities in agriculture, they won’t be realised until barriers facing business are reduced.
“Each of our agriculture industries needs to be focused on what can happen when government burdens get too high, hence costs get too high,” she says. “And in turn they should speak out continuously against increasing red tape and compliance burdens, payroll tax, escalating stamp tax and licences, and other government burdens, to help protect their very future.”
She says there is no helpful place for government intervention in the commodities export market “but our international customers will buy our products, if they remain cost competitive and reliable.”
Whenever people hear the names Rinehart and Hancock, they think of the mining sector. Rinehart’s wealth is built on iron ore, but it’s Australia’s agricultural sector that is gaining her attention.
In 2016, Hancock bought the $386.5 million cattle empire S Kidman & Co as a majority partner in a joint bid with Chinese group Shanghai CRED. And just before Christmas, cattle and properties in western Queensland acquired from veteran Australian wagyu producer Wally Rea were added to the stable.
The acquisitions made Hancock one of the top beef producers in Australia, but Rinehart says few people know that the family has owned cattle stations stretching back decades earlier than Kidman.
Her great-grandparents founded several of the first stations in the north, including Ashburton Downs with its famous cattle brand, Hancock 3 b.
“Our international customers will buy our products, if they remain cost competitive and reliable.” Gina Rinehart
Rinehart was raised on Mulga Downs station, in the north west, owned at that time by her grandfather and father. Then it was a sheep station, but later switched to cattle and remains in the family’s hands. “I loved my life on those stations,” Rinehart says.
The combined Kidman and Hancock herd will reach 300,000 head, placing Hancock among the top three beef producers in Australia. Last year, The Hancock Group launched its new full-blood wagyu beef brand for export to Asia.
There is also strong demand for the 2GR brand in the Australian fine dining market, Rinehart told the Financial Review earlier this year. “We are very pleased to be moving our 2GR wagyu into Australia’s best restaurants, and would like to maintain this as a priority,” she says. Rinehart wants to highlight the critical need for Australia’s agricultural industry to be cost competitive. In 2015-2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the total value of Australia’s agricultural production was $56 billion. “Internationally, given the important fact that most of the markets for our agriculture are actually overseas, we must compete globally to underpin our cost competitiveness and enable Australian agriculture’s sustainability,” Rinehart says.
According to PwC’s 2018 CEO Survey, Australian leaders claim regulation is the biggest threat to growth in the year ahead, alongside cyber security.
Rinehart says we need to lower all forms of government cost burdens, be that red tape, compliance, taxes or ever-increasing licence costs.
She says if cattle giant Sidney Kidman faced the current government tape and compliance burdens, the empire he created would never have been possible. Rinehart would like Australians to receive more education about where things come from and the contribution agriculture and its related industries make to Australians’ lives.
She says 16 per cent of Australia’s private sector workforce is based in agriculture or related industries and every year each Australian pastoralist and farmer provides enough food on average to feed 400 other Australians and export enough food to feed about 600 people living overseas.
“Let’s think about those 1.6 million employees in our agriculture industry and the income tax they pay, and the tax from the 130,000 agribusinesses in Australia, not just company taxes but payroll tax, stamp duty, the GST and licences,” Rinehart told the National Agriculture and Related Industries dinner in Canberra recently.
“These business and employment taxes help to show a very important picture of agriculture, an industry vital to our country and its future. And I haven’t even spoken about the importance of reliably feeding Australians with fresh and clean produce.”
PwC Food and Agribusiness advisory partner Tim Lee agrees that there is strong demand for Australian agricultural products, and there are opportunities to grow the sector through promoting Australia’s clean and green image.
“In Asia, especially, there are opportunities for Australian produce, where clean and green food is sold at a premium. Having healthy food that is safe to eat is something we take for granted in Australia,” he says. “As we continue to export more food the need and demand for food security and trust in the supply chain continues to grow.
We send lamb to the Middle East, beef to Vietnam, Korea and Japan, and have recently exported live cattle to China from northern Australia. Australia’s almonds go everywhere, especially India, in large volumes, and our fresh fruit and vegetable produce is well-regarded in Asia. Australia punches above its weight on the export market due to our small population and relatively large production base.”
Lee says free trade agreements with the US, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have helped Australian food producers and will continue to do so over the next decade.
“Export tariffs on Australian beef to China, which are currently up to 25 per cent, will cease by 2024, making Australian producers more competitive. There really are genuine opportunities across a range of commodities as a result of these sorts of agreements,” he says.
With the trade environment becoming more favourable for Australian producers, the focus will turn to production rather than trade and making the most of resources in Australia, such as land and water.
Rinehart says Australia is a lucky country. “Lucky that we have abundant land and water and sunshine. But we will be unlucky if we don’t use it.”