Landscape south australia bill

Mr DULUK (Waite) (17:28): I also rise to make a contribution on the Landscape South Australia Bill. I commend the Minister for Environment and Water, his office and his department for presenting the bill before the parliament as a substantial change to the way that South Australia will go about its natural resource and landscape management into the future, which is so vitally important.

There is nothing more important, sir, as you know, than looking after our natural environment and the preserving of our surrounds for us, the wildlife and of course the natural beauty that is South Australia, whether it is my electorate, the seat of Waite, where we have fantastic reserves and national parks, such as Belair National Park, or whether it is up on the APY lands, where I had the great fortune to be last week as part of my role with the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee.

I talked to many of the traditional owners on the APY about the importance of land management for them and their communities and how changes to this bit of legislation can assist them in their role and all communities across South Australia. Reforming NRM was a key part of our 2018 election commitment and we are glad that this legislation is now being debated before the house, and I think it will be well supported by members in this place.

We have listened to community, especially in the regions, and I think many people in the regions saw NRM as out of date, no longer serving its purpose, politicised and with grassroots members of the community not being involved in NRM decision-making, quite often being stacked with people who do not have natural resources management as their primary concern or primary focus. The NRM system was established by the previous government back in 2004 but, as I said, it became an over-regulated and centralised system and not focused enough on real outcomes and on practical environmental outcomes, in which I am a very strong believer.

As a result, we are proposing to reform NRM and start to refocus natural resources management on a back-to-basics approach to land, pest, plant and animal species and water management. Given the very dry conditions Australia is having at the moment, and particularly South Australia, nothing is more important than water management and the way that we look after that precious resource. The crux of the proposed legislation is to replace the NRM Act with the landscape South Australia act.

This will be a chance to have a biodiverse and sustainable community. It will also give our regional and rural communities a greater say in the management of our natural resources and provide more security and confidence in the system. In my own community I talk to many of my friends groups, especially the Friends of Belair National Park and the like. There are many friends groups and natural resources management groups in the member for Heysen's electorate, and we share a common boundary. There is a desire for friends groups who are active managers of land and reserves to be involved in decision-making in the work that they do, so I know that this reform is well supported at the grassroots level.

There will also be an ability to deliver cost-of-living relief through the capping of the land and water levies to CPI. This is another way that we are committed to helping South Australians with the cost of living. We have seen that with the reduction in the emergency services levy (ESL) in the last state budget and with our cost-of-living measures, such as rate capping and council reform, which of course have been held up by those opposite. This is certainly another measure where we can assist South Australians with the cost of living.

As I said, the landscape South Australia act will replace the NRM Act. Boards will be decentralised, putting the decision-making authority in the hands of the community. Importantly, there will be the establishment of Green Adelaide. Green Adelaide will focus on seven key priorities working towards Adelaide becoming one of the most ecologically vibrant and climate-resilient cities in the world. In the 21st century, we live in an era of climate change and consciousness of this very important issue, especially on this side of the house. It is fantastic that the Morrison Liberal government is meeting its Paris climate commitment and doing its part as a player on the global stage.

You do not often hear about that in this parliament. Those opposite like to think that they are the only ones who care about the environment, but it is actually this side of the house that, in a practical way, helps communities and helps people and, more importantly, helps the environment.

That is what we are on about and that is what we will be delivering through this bill. Green Adelaide will be focusing on creating another climate-resilient city in the world, which is so important. We are a dry city in a dry state in the driest continent in the world, so it is our responsibility to do all that we can. Most importantly, and something for which I commend the minister, is his desire to remove extensive bureaucratic business plan development and focus on outcomes for our natural environment. I think that is something that whole of government needs to do.

In my local area, which I am particularly proud of, under the proposed boundaries of the act we are looking at nine new boundaries, being Green Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Limestone Coast, Hills and Fleurieu, Murraylands and Riverland, Northern and Yorke, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia Arid lands and Alinytjara Wilurara. Most of my community and my electorate of Waite will be residing in the Green Adelaide space and a little bit in the Hills and Fleurieu space.

In our area and in my community, we have Belair National Park. The wonderful Wittunga Botanic Garden in Blackwood also sits in my electorate and it is fantastic that a re-elected a Morrison government, as part of the City Deals, is investing $750,000 into the Wittunga Botanic Garden. It is thanks to our support on this side of the house that we can invest in Wittunga. It was those opposite who at one time discussed selling Wittunga. I believe it was in a Treasury note to then treasurer Snelling to privatise our botanic garden in South Australia, which was an absolute disgrace. The residents in my community know that the Liberal Party, both state and federal, certainly support Wittunga as a fantastic asset.

At Brownhill Creek, it is fantastic to be working with organisations such as the Brownhill Creek Association in their land management. As part of the South Australian election commitment and in the last budget, we have provided $100,000 of natural resource management funding to the Brownhill Creek Association for their fantastic work in rejuvenating that part of South Australia, which will of course feed into the greater Wirraparinga Loop Trail.

Once again, another fantastic announcement as part of the City Deals between the Morrison Liberal government and the state Marshall Liberal government was a $3 million investment in Carrick Hill and what will become the Mitcham Hills walking trail. People will be able to start at Urrbrae House in my electorate, walk through Carrick Hill and the fantastic state asset we have there, through Wirraparinga, through Brownhill Creek, up into the Belair National Park area of my electorate, up to Wittunga and finish at the Colebrook Reconciliation Park on Shepherds Hill Road. That is all possible through the fantastic work and the proposals that we have in this legislation, which is about making the way we look after the natural environment possible through grassroots participation. That is so important.

I know the regions are important to South Australia, and there will be key benefits in this reform for the primary production sector. One is reducing the costs to businesses and households through introducing a CPI cap on land and water levies, enshrining the principle that boards will work in partnership and collaboratively with primary producers and local communities to deliver real outcomes on the ground.

At times, we have seen that tension between primary producers and natural land management, and more recently we have seen that tension between primary producers and animal activists, when we saw animal activists in Victoria close down a perfectly legitimate farming operation. Ensuring there is great collaboration between those who care about the preservation of our natural resources and the land and primary producers who work the land and are some of the best carers of our land is so important. That collaboration would be enhanced under this legislation.

The landscape priorities fund will deliver landscape scale restoration projects and provide greater opportunities for natural resources management and focus programs and initiatives to benefit our primary producers. It is vitally important that we get that right. There is also going to be a grassroots fund and the grassroots fund will be administered by each board rather than by the centralised fund.

As I said, that is empowering local communities and volunteers who are so active on the ground. We could not maintain our natural parks and reserves across South Australia if it were not for volunteers who go out there regularly and undertake feral weed control and the like. I am always very grateful for what the volunteers do in my electorate as part of returning landscape to its natural environment.

The feedback has been fantastic, especially in the regions, about having autonomy and control in the way that funds are administered and disbursed. This is about putting control back into the regions rather than having issues resolved by a central bureaucracy. It is a great way for grassroot communities to connect with the local boards and, of course, the local volunteers. The minister will determine the size of the funding pool available for grants in each region. For most regions, grassroots grants will be funded from land and water levies collected within that region.

As I said, there is an important part on climate change and resilience. This is the first time that climate change will be embedded in a legislative framework for how we manage our natural resources. During their 16 years in government, there was a lot of talk by those opposite about climate change, a lot of talk about getting carbon out of the City of Adelaide.

An honourable member: It was a lot of hot air.

Mr DULUK: It was a lot of hot air, but I always thought it was ironic that they wanted to get carbon out of the City of Adelaide but they never once proposed to stop the V8s. I know that the member for Hammond would be very disappointed if we ever did, but I always thought it was a bit of an oxymoron that the former government loved the V8s so much, as do I, but also wanted a carbon neutral Adelaide, which sometimes is a bit hard to achieve when you have a petrol race every year in the city. But I digress.

For the first time, we will be putting climate change actions at the forefront of government legislation and change. That is what we are doing. The significance of climate change to the management of our natural resources is given express recognition in the objects of this new legislation and, as I said, that need for climate change, resilient communities and landscapes. Greening Adelaide's streets and parks will be a priority for Green Adelaide, helping to build the resilience of the city to changes in climate, and this is very important.

Rates and council rates being set across the board is being debated in my community at the moment. Some members in the Mitcham council, including the mayor, are proposing a 4.25 per cent rate rise, and I somehow think that the council is going to settle at about 3.7 per cent to 3.8 per cent, which is still way above where inflation is running, and I think it is only one of two councils that is looking to increase council rates by more than the LGA CPI. One of the excuses that Mitcham Council  is using to bring in an almost 4 per cent rate rise on residents in my community is the need to plant more trees.

Yes, we do need to plant more trees to help biodiversity in my community, but you can plant more trees without raising council rates by 4 per cent. At the moment, councils are going through their consultation process on rates in the community. I think that is something to bear in mind and to work with the state government on in terms of what we are doing for Green Adelaide and how we can achieve a greener Adelaide and a greener suburbia without affecting the hip pocket of mums and dads and many people in my community who are on fixed incomes. I ask the City of Mitcham and their hardworking councillors to bear that in mind as they impose an unnecessary rate rise on my community.

For urban communities, Green Adelaide will deliver initiatives to confront the challenges of a changing climate and urban density and pursue an agenda to transform our city into a world leading, sustainable, green, climate-resilient city. This will underpin Adelaide's livability, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity for future generations. It will also provide broader benefits to other urban communities through Green Adelaide's role in sharing knowledge and expertise across the state. As I said, I would love the City of Mitcham to get on board with Green Adelaide to see how the two bodies can work in a collaborative manner.

Another issue I know that is very important to you, sir, is weed control, and it is a critical component in preserving biodiversity in the region. This bill looks to place an emphasis on declared weeds and feral pest control and the role of the regional landscape boards to carry out those measures.

In the APY lands last week, one of the issues raised with the committee was feral camels and donkeys that are trampling all over the natural landscape. There is the issue of culling them, getting them off the land and reducing the number of feral animals that roam in central Australia and the central parts of our state, which are so important. At the moment, they are obviously being attracted to water spots, as the inland is so dry and arid. We are working with the community in that regard.

Of course, stakeholders also require roadside weed management and always raise this with us, so we need to give that further attention, and that is important. I know that the clearing of roadside verges has been an issue for a long time and has been raised in this house many times, and it is important to give individuals the ability to clear roadside verges.

I think this is a very good reform bill and one I am very keen to support and get through this parliament so that we can implement it and work with our local volunteer communities on the ground, who do so much for the preservation of our natural environment.