A representative body for farmers in Western Australia is seeking an overhaul of laws that strip away property rights:
Peak industry group WAFarmers wants the State Government to compensate farmers financially in cases where restrictions have been placed on land clearing. It also wants legislation to allow farmers to sell off parcels of bush to environmentally minded individuals and organisations. WAFarmers president Dale Park said yesterday it was time for the conservation movement to put its “money where its mouth is” and pay for the protection of thousands of hectares of bush on privately owned farmland.
Mr Park goes on to explain:
“What we want the Government to do is recognise that they have taken our land rights away from us and work out how they are going to compensate us for losing those rights,” Mr Park said. “Society and green groups have decided that we are not allowed to clear this land so let society put its money where its mouth is. If it is so important, the Government should compensate us for it or let us subdivide it so people in the city can buy it because it is of no use to us.”
The proposal is eminently reasonable. But property rights have been eroded significantly over the years, not least of which by native vegetation laws. Indeed, things are so bad for property rights in Australia that this sensible proposal – the simple idea that people have a right to use their own land as they see fit – will be painted by some as being “radical.” No doubt this is partly due to a failure to understand that farmers tend to be exceptional conservationists.
Whatever the reason, we all have much to gain from restoring property rights and giving farmers the power to make decisions regarding their own land.