Decisions should remain in the community

Natural Resource Management (NRM) is always a topic for discussion across Eyre Peninsula.

The current NRM system was constructed through legislation in 2004, following the amalgamation of 27 soil boards, 27 pest animal and plant boards, and eight water catchment boards.

I was pleased to be a member of the inaugural EP Natural Resources Management Board (EPNRM).

Although the initial boards operated with some independence from government, in 2011 they were brought under the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). This meant board staff became department staff and the boards lost much of their autonomy.

This fact was really sheeted home when in 2016, the NRM levy, payable by all owners of land and water licenses including government owned land, increased significantly as a result of the Minister requesting the boards begin recovery of water planning and management costs.

We all understand the importance of managing the natural environment. In fact, those involved in primary production are reliant upon a healthy and productive landscape.

Healthy soils and clear waterways are paramount to our production systems and we must ensure that health remains as the pressure to produce increases.

The Liberal opposition has recently undertaken a survey on the state of NRM in SA. The response was particularly pleasing from EP residents, who provided about 20 per cent of the total replies. People are still able to participate, should they wish to.

About 70 per cent of the survey returns suggested improvements could be made to the NRM structure – in other words, people believe there are ways we could do it better. Information such as this will feed into our policy development in the lead-up to the 2018 election.

Feedback highlighted the preference for NRM boards to be independent of state government. This fits nicely with our philosophy that decisions are best made at the local level.

If NRM is to have the confidence and support it deserves, we need to get this right. Thanks to the results of our survey, we have good information to feed in to policy development. This will allow for positive outcomes for NRM.

Peter Treloar

Member for Flinders