Thinking of Investing in Australia -- Beware
There's a tragic story of an American couple who emigrated to Australia in 2003 and developed a feedlot business only to have environmental red tape, from a government agency no less, used to take their developed land. They were served with papers this morning by the National Australia Bank.
This is a chilling sign of what may happen to US ranches and farms if federal regulation isn't carefully managed and a serious hidden risk in foreign investment.
Note: JoNova and WUWT blog readers have raised $27,000 in two days from 670 donations to help the Thompson family.
Here are headlines and excerpts related to the story.
Tyranny: How to destroy a business with environmental Red tape
"Did you know in Australia it’s possible to ruin a business if you don’t like the way it smells? This is a heartbreaking story — that a government could effectively ruin a family by slowly strangling them in red tape, and that they would have apparently no protection from the courts or the ombudsman. It eats away at our sense of justice. Can we speak freely? Are we all treated equally under the law, or are some laws only enforced according to a capricious whim?"
"This is the price we pay for vague laws where business people can run ventures, do everything to the letter of the law, with best-practice procedures, winning customers and contracts, yet go broke despite all that because of onerous, impossible-to-meet conditions, that are unmeasurable, and change suddenly, with the added bonus of inordinately long delays. At the moment, Janet and Matts farm, Narrogin Beef Producers, lies empty, unstocked, while debts accrue by the minute."
"This is also a story of sovereign risk. Investors in Australian industry beware."
4 days notice! The Thompsons are served notice of eviction.
"Don’t bring your investment dollars to Western Australia — not while the Department of the Environment effectively controls the state."
"I am ashamed of what our government has done. If the media won’t cover this, shame on them too."
Thompsons part 4: Every slope is a watercourse
"The ostensible point of protecting watercourses from runoff is presumably to stop manure or residue flowing into rivers where it could create an algal bloom. And that’s all well and good. But the definition of a watercourse means that virtually anyplace in WA can be declared a watercourse, even if there is no chance that run-off will cross paths with a fish."
"We could make a fuss about the definition of a “waterway” — but in the end, when the Thompsons spoke to the Appeals Convenor, he said that even if they won the right to be a Category 68 unlicensed property, DEC would just change the rules and make all feedlots — regardless of size or watercourses — subject to licensing."
"The real problem here is that DEC are kingmakers who divide and conquer, detail by detail."
"The minutae bore the pants off the average citizen, and by splitting up each industry group into smaller and smaller divisions, DEC can make key rulings without triggering a revolt from any serious combined opponent. Why can’t the rules be simpler and apply to all cattle farms? Isn’t a cow a cow? Not if you are a bureaucrat who decides which businesses rise and fall — you can play them off each other, rely on them being busy, and slip in numbing complex clauses until almost no one can predict in advance whether they are meeting the rules to the letter."
"Rule by law has effectively been replaced with rule by bureaucrat. Such situations generally lead to corruption eventually (power corrupts…)."
"Something as simple as knowing if they were going to require licensing ought to have been obvious to an entrepeneur searching for sites from the other side of the world. Yet here are the Thompsons, nine years after they bought the property, and there is still a debate."
URGENT – A call to action for the WUWT community
"I need your help, because they need your help. Please read this whole story and consider if you can help. WUWT readers may recall this story: Death of a Feedlot Operator …in which the anal-retentive government of West Australia has “licensed” a family farm out of operation due to some shonky science and arbitrary application of the “sniff test”.
"This is a family with four young children, who ran a profitable business; they filled in every form and ticked every box. They have broken no laws, and there are no outstanding environmental notices, but yet, they came to Western Australia with their life savings and they are losing everything. (Note: Matt and Janet are from the USA, Hugo, Oklahoma – Anthony)""Don’t bring your investment dollars to Western Australia — not while the Department of the Environment effectively controls the state."