Minister makes stand on reducing red tape for farmers

Jo FulwoodCountryman
Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis said reducing red tape was a key priority in the new year.
Camera IconAgriculture Minister Mark Lewis said reducing red tape was a key priority in the new year. Credit: Jo Fulwood

WA Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis has promised to focus his attention on reducing red tape for farmers in the coming year.

Mr Lewis, who toured the Central Wheatbelt during harvest, said there had been strong feedback from farmers across WA about reducing red tape.

“As I go around one of the things I get (told) is that the approvals process and the development process and the ability to get on with the job of agriculture making money for the State, creating wealth and jobs, is a critical issue, and I want to tackle that,” he said.

“I know its glib to just say, ‘reducing red tape’ but I want to go beyond that, and get underneath that and try and provide a platform and allows that capital (investment).

“We have to do that to get that capital into agriculture, you have to get government out of the way.”

Mr Lewis said he did not believe West Australians feared foreign investment.

“I don’t like seeing real estate deals where they come in and speculate, but if they come in and work with existing farmers because we’ve got the skills and they’ve got the capital to do the upgrade and it’s a partnership, then that’s OK,” he said.

“I don’t think WA has the fear of foreign investment that you might have overseas.

“It’s my job to bolt that capital down, not just in real estate deals but in a value-add sense that they come in and co-invest, or they buy indirectly, then they have capital to take a business to a next level, to increase the growth value of agricultural production, and by default increase jobs.”

Mr Lewis said he also planned to halt the decline in the State Budget allocation to agriculture, particularly the grains industry.

Hailing from Queensland, Mr Lewis now represents the agricultural and mining region in the Legislative Council.

He took over the position of Minister for Agriculture from Dean Nalder in September.

Mr Lewis said he had spent his first few months as minister meeting farmers and getting out and about.

“You know you have been travelling too much when the dog bites at you, or barks at you — I think I have had one day off since I’ve been in the job,” he said.

“From what I have seen, generally farmers are pretty optimistic, they have got to be since they take risks every day of their lives, but I think there is a general acceptance that for agriculture — it’s our time now.”

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