The State Liberals will be applying the blowtorch to embattled Water Minister Ian Hunter in State Parliament today regarding the massive increases in the Natural Resources Management Levy.
“The Weatherill Government is virtually doubling its tax take from the NRM levy and South Australia’s farmers are going to bear the brunt of the $6.8 million increase,” said Shadow Minister for Water Michelle Lensink.
“Once again the Weatherill Government has decided to hit South Australian primary producers to pay for its budget mismanagement.
“This tax grab is so extreme that even a Labor dominated parliamentary committee has expressed grave reservations about the process and impact.
“This latest tax grab from the Weatherill Government will undermine South Australia’s food producers and cost precious jobs in the sector.
“The Weatherill Government failed to consult with NRM Boards before almost doubling the tax and is now failing to provide adequate details on how the quantum was arrived at.
“I will be grilling the Minister regarding the details of the so-called water planning and management costs.
“The table of items which has been so-far provided includes South Australia’s contribution to the Murray Darling Basin Authority and River Murray Operations which clearly should be paid for from other revenue sources.
“The Minister has continuously used the National Water Initiative (NWI) as a justification for the increase, however one of the foundation principles of the NWI is transparency.
“Minister Hunter needs to admit that NRM is now just a taxation system aimed at raising more revenue from South Australian food producers and agree to an independent review of costs as required under the NWI.
“The decision is unfair to NRM Boards, who were not consulted prior and are now expected to collect additional levies which were not in their own business plans.”