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Title: What is meant by the social licence?
Contributor(s): Martin, Paul  (author); Shepheard, Mark  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2011
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Abstract: At agricultural shows and farm field days across Australia, petitions are being signed to defend farmers' property rights in the face of regulatory restrictions. The right to farm concerns raised by farmers include: controls on land clearing; mining exploration access; biodiversity protection; animal welfare controls and the failure of government to deliver water to satisfy legally secure extraction rights. Farmers point to many instances where legislative and administrative restrictions have greatly harmed individuals by limiting the ways in which they operate their farming enterprises, who have unwillingly borne the costs of satisfying the public desire to manage farm resources to achieve social and environmental purposes. Advocates of tight controls over farming point to counter examples where some farmers have harmed the environment, or acted in ways that violate widely received social expectations of responsible behaviour. These debates involve clashes of values, and wide divergences in perceptions of the facts. The boundaries of farmers' freedoms are discussed on radio and TV, in Parliament and at rowdy meetings in front of Parliament. Media reports and political pundits selectively (and sometimes hysterically) feed the debates with conflicting opinions, as those involved struggle to win the political high ground that they believe will lead to their preferred position being reflected in laws, policies and administrative decisions. At issue is the degree to which owners of legal rights to land and water can fully use these resources to satisfy their economic needs, or (alternatively) the degree to which the government acting on behalf of society as a whole, can legitimately limit this private use. Debates about where the boundary lies between private freedom and public control are of far more than academic interest. They affect the economic viability of farms and the strategies that can be used by government to pursue public interests. The benign sounding term social licence masks a heated reality of an evolving contest over land, freedom and the environment. In this chapter we will discuss the concept of a social licence, and its implications for farming, and the tension between a rights-based view of property and a responsibilities perspective on freedom to use that property. We will use some examples to demonstrate that the issue of social licence is a vital practical concern for the farm sector, and how a failure to meet community expectations can result in significant economic losses to farmers. We will also expand a little upon the link between this concept, morality and responsibility, as a basis for the chapters that follow.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Defending the Social Licence of Farming: Issues, Challenges and New Directions for Agriculture, p. 3-11
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Collingwood, Australia
ISBN: 9780643101593
Field of Research (FOR): 180111 Environmental and Natural Resources Law
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
School of Law

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