Consideration in committee of message No. 138 from the House of Assembly.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:
That the council does not insist on its amendments and suggested amendments to which the House of Assembly has disagreed.
The Legislative Council made 50 amendments to the Landscape South Australia Bill, as well as five suggested amendments. The House of Assembly has now agreed to 39 of the amendments and disagreed with 11. Of the 11 amendments disagreed, the majority are amendments made consequential to suggested amendments for an alternative proposal for collection and recovery of land levies in council areas, of which I will speak further.
It can be seen that in the spirit of progressing this important bill the amendments made by this place have by and large been supported in the House of Assembly, apart from two discrete areas. Amendment No. 14, which reinserts from the NRM Act specific reference to water catchment areas such that the minister must give particular attention to them when recommending landscape management regions, was disagreed to.
In recommending regional boundaries to the Governor, the minister will still be required to consider the nature and form of the natural environment, include catchments, alongside other factors. As outlined previously, community feedback during consultation focused on communities of interest at the heart of establishing boundaries.
Secondly, amendments Nos 47 to 50, which concern deferring elections until 2022, were also disagreed to. The government's position remains that these amendments are contrary to the government's election commitment and to broad community expectation that regional representation by community-elected board members will occur as soon as possible.
The remaining amendments and suggested amendments disagreed to relate to the proposal for councils to no longer be responsible for collecting land levies within council areas. Rather, it is suggested this responsibility should rest with regional landscape boards, with the assistance of the Commissioner of State Taxation, to collect and recover these levies. Levy payers would be liable for levy payments to boards rather than councils. The government therefore disagrees to amendments Nos 2 and 40 to 44 inclusive and suggested amendments Nos 1 to 5 inclusive.
The government's position remains that councils should continue to collect land levies in council areas as the most cost-effective way of collecting the levy and maximising the funding available to deliver outcomes on-ground. This government promised households reduced cost-of- living pressures through introducing a cap on land and water levies at CPI and a renewed focus on on-ground delivery of works. It is unacceptable for this additional financial burden to be passed on to households or to reduce ongoing delivery of activities to manage our natural resources with no net or environmental benefit.
On behalf of the Minister for Environment and Water, I ask that members do not insist on any of these amendments or suggested amendments. If the government has to go to a conference of managers, the minister indicates that he and the government will do so in good faith.
The CHAIR: Honourable members are entitled to speak in response to the motion, so I will give the call to those who wish the call.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I will be insisting on those amendments.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I rise to indicate I will be opposing the motion outlined by the minister and the opposition will be supporting the Legislative Council's amendments. I note that a number of the amendments have been supported by the House of Assembly. However, there are a couple of key issues that the minister outlined that have not been agreed upon. The shadow minister in another place, the member for Port Adelaide, sought detailed information on the concerns with the amendments, particularly in regard to the levy collection.
The opposition remains unconvinced of the merits of the government's claim. For example, the government has been unable to explain why the levy could not be collected using the emergency services levy notification process in the same way as it is currently attached to council rate notices. We take seriously our responsibility to get this legislation right and to ensure we have effective laws in place to manage our natural resources, support communities and landholders, and protect our environment. The minister has indicated that it looks likely, if the position holds as it seems, that this chamber will look forward to a deadlock conference to try to resolve these issues on this very important regime.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: As with the previous two speakers, the Greens are not convinced by the minister's arguments. We will be voting to insist on the amendments that we passed and we look forward to seeing whether they can be resolved in a deadlock conference. In particular, I would endorse the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. It is not as if the state government does not have a tax collection capability and a large department devoted to the collection of tax. The local councils, through the LGA, have made it very clear that they do not want to be collecting state government taxes.
Whilst we, in this chamber, might know that they are state taxes, the average person receiving a bill does not know that. They assume it is an impost of local council, and we are not convinced that the cost of the state government collecting its own taxes is as high as the government has suggested it might be. If that were the case, the government would not collect any of its own taxes, but clearly it chooses to in terms of emergency services levy and other taxes. So we look forward to this going to deadlock conference to see if it can be resolved. But if it cannot, the Greens' position is to insist on all of the amendments the Legislative Council passed when it last considered this bill.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I indicate that I will only be insisting on amendment No. 14 and not insisting on the others.
The CHAIR: Because the Hon. Mr Darley has indicated that he will be insisting on only amendment No. 14, out of courtesy to him I am going to put the question in relation to amendments Nos 2 and 14 and then the remainder I will do in the one question, unless any honourable member objects. The question I am putting is different from the motion as expressed by the minister. The question I am putting is that the amendments and suggested amendments be insisted on. This means that if you are with the opposition you vote in the positive, for the ayes, or if you are with the government you vote with the noes.
Amendment No. 2:
The CHAIR: I put the question that amendment No. 2 be insisted on.
Question agreed to.
Amendment No. 14:
The CHAIR: I put the question that amendment No. 14 be insisted on.
Question agreed to.
Amendments Nos 40 to 44:
The CHAIR: I put the question that amendments Nos 40 to 44 be insisted on.
Question agreed to.
Amendments Nos 47 to 50:
The CHAIR: I put the question that amendments Nos 47 to 50 be insisted on.
Question agreed to.
Suggested amendments Nos 1 to 5:
The CHAIR: I put the question that suggested amendments Nos 1 to 5 be insisted on.
Question agreed to.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:42): I move:
That a message be sent to the House of Assembly requesting that a conference be granted to this council respecting the suggested amendments in the bill and that the House of Assembly be informed that, in the event of a conference being agreed to, the council will be represented at such conference by five managers and that the Hon. D.G.E. Hood, the Hon. K.J. Maher, the Hon. F. Pangallo, the Hon. M.C. Parnell and the mover be managers of the conference on the part of the Legislative Council.