In committee (resumed on motion).
Clause 12 passed.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:
Amendment No 8 [Parnell–1]—
Page 34, after line 8 [clause 13]—Insert:
(4a) The Minister must, before publishing a notice under subsection (3), give each peak body notice of the Minister's intention to publish a notice under that subsection and give consideration to any submission made by any peak body within a period (being at least 21 days) specified in the notice.
At the risk of riling the committee to reagitate issues that we have already discussed, this is yet another occasion when we are seeking to amend the bill to include the requirement for consultation with peak bodies. I think we have agitated this already but we are in the hands of the committee.
The CHAIR: Does any other honourable member have a contribution?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I will make a brief contribution, very similar to my comments in relation to the amendment that we finished up on just prior to lunch, just to plead with honourable members to be mindful of the fact that they are making things overly prescriptive and ignoring the wishes of those people who have diligently worked within the natural resources management system for some time. I would be disappointed if the Legislative Council thought that it knew better than the community in relation to these matters, and I urge honourable members to oppose this amendment.
The CHAIR: We have no more amendments on clause 13. Leader of the Opposition, do you have some questions?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I have a couple of questions on the clause. Can the minister outline the government's anticipated time line for the establishment of regional landscape boards and when the government expects the boards to be fully constituted?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is quite a complex question to answer in that it is clearly subject to this parliamentary process and then the proclamation, but if we assume that the proposed boundaries are proclaimed relatively quickly following the passage of this legislation, the next step will be to establish the landscape boards and then the regulations. If everything goes swimmingly, then we anticipate that the process for the majority of the landscape boards would be six to eight months.
The Hon. K.J. Maher: From now.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: No, once the proclamation of the legislation—but that Green Adelaide could be done sooner.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: A further question on clause 13. Can the minister let me know if we are reading this correctly, in that the requirement for the minister to report to the parliament's Natural Resources Committee if they assign a special function to a particular landscape board or if they vary a board's functions has been removed, and if that is correct, for what reason was that removed from what was the NRM Act?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I thank the honourable member for his question. Yes, he is correct. The advice I have received is that, in providing a simpler and less prescriptive legislative framework, equivalent NRM Act provisions requiring consultation with peak bodies and a report to be furnished to the Natural Resources Committee on any function assigned to a board have not been replicated. Any additional function assigned to a board must be published in the Government Gazette. There are also reporting requirements through the board annual reports.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: In the government's striving for simpler and less prescriptive ways for this framework to operate, have any other reporting requirements to parliament or parliamentary committees been removed in this bill, compared with the NRM Act?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that there is no change to the Natural Resources Committee's overarching responsibilities with respect to natural resources under the Parliamentary Committees Act. Currently, plans containing levy proposals must be referred to the Natural Resources Committee, which can resolve to object, suggest amendments or not object to the proposal. With key documents and decisions tabled in parliament and with levy capping now applicable, it will no longer be required to refer a levy to the Natural Resources Committee. Going forward, the bill requires that if the minister approves a board proposal to increase a land or water levy above CPI or charge land or water levy arrangements, a report justifying the variation would be required to be tabled in the House of Assembly.
The House of Assembly could disallow a proposal, resolve not to object to a proposal and suggest amendments to a proposal. Where they relate to operational matters, requirements to report to or consult with the Natural Resources Committee have not been replicated in the bill. Alternative arrangements for accountability to parliament are provided for where necessary. Currently, the NRM Act requires reports to be furnished for information to the Natural Resources Committee upon establishing new regions or changing regional boundaries, upon the minister assigning additional functions to a board, if a regional NRM board operates outside its region or outside its regional NRM plan, or if an amendment is made to a plan without formal procedures, noting that this can only be made on limited grounds.
The minister must also consult with the Natural Resources Committee before varying board functions. These arrangements have not been replicated in the bill; instead, where a plan is amended without formal procedures, a report on the matter must be tabled in both houses of parliament. The remaining requirements to report relate to matters that are operational in nature. Currently, before prescribing an additional water-affecting activity by regulation, the minister must consult with the Natural Resources Committee. This has not been replicated, given the tabling of regulations is already required under the Subordinate Legislation Act.
Clause as amended passed.
Clause 14 passed.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:
Amendment No 9 [Parnell–1]—
Page 35, after line 5 [clause 15]—Insert:
(3a) Of the members of a regional landscape board that are to be appointed by the Minister under subsection (1)(a), (2) or (3), at least 1 must be a member or officer of a council at the time of the member's appointment unless—
(a) the board's region does not include any part of the area of a council; or
(b) the Minister cannot, after taking reasonable steps, find a member or officer of a council who—
(i) in the opinion of the Minister, is suitable to be appointed as a member of the board; or
(ii) is willing and available to be a member of the board.
(3b) Before appointing a person or persons under subsection (1)(a), (2) or (3), the Minister must give each peak body notice of the fact that an appointment or appointments are to be made and give consideration to any submission made by any such body within a period (of at least 21 days) specified by the Minister.
This amendment seeks to retain the status quo in relation to the current Natural Resources Management Act. Section 25 of the NRM Act makes provision for consulting with peak bodies before appointing a person to an NRM board. It also makes provision for at least one board member to be a council member or officer. This requirement in the current act is not replicated in this bill. My amendment seeks to do that.
The words that I have used are effectively taken from the existing legislation and brought across. I make the point that, given that local councils work closely with their communities, it is critically important to have local government knowledge on boards if decision-making is to be decentralised, which is a main aim of the reform.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment, which reintroduces NRM Act requirements for at least one ministerially appointed member of a board to be a council representative. It will also reintroduce prescriptive requirements to give notice of the intent to make appointments and give consideration to submissions made by peak bodies.
Requirements in the bill for boards to create strong, strategic and financial partnerships and work collaboratively with local government reflect that local government knowledge and input need to inform board decision-making in a number of respects. Noting that the best way to achieve that outcome will be different for different regions and communities, the bill is not prescriptive about how this should occur. Rather, there are a number of mechanisms to achieve this, such as board membership committees, ongoing collaboration and consultation.
As part of delivering a simpler system, prescriptive requirements to consult with peak bodies, which currently apply under the NRM Act, have not been replicated. Going forward, the new arrangements would focus on delivery and collaborative government in practice, where consultation is tailored to the circumstances rather than prescriptive legislative processes.
Once again, for the arguments I have already made, thus far unsuccessfully, I urge members not to support this amendment. I would appreciate if all parties would express which way they are going to vote on all of these clauses to prevent me from having to call divisions.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I rise to indicate that the opposition will be supporting amendment No. 9 [Parnell-1] as well the ones in the next clause, that is, amendments Nos 10 to 13.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I indicate that I will not be supporting amendment No. 9 [Parnell-1].
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: We will be supporting it.
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:
Amendment No 10 [Parnell–1]—
Page 35, lines 21 to 23 [clause 16(1)]—Delete subclause (1) and substitute:
(1) A regional landscape board must consist of persons who collectively have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to enable the board to carry out its functions, including, so far as is reasonably practicable, knowledge, skills and experience across the following areas:
(a) community affairs at the regional level;
(b) primary production or pastoral land management;
(c) soil conservation and land management;
(d) conservation and biodiversity management;
(e) water resources management;
(f) business management;
(g) local government or local government administration;
(h) urban or regional planning;
(i) Aboriginal interest in the land and water, and Aboriginal heritage;
(j) pest animal and plant control;
(k) natural and social science;
(l) if relevant—coast, estuarine and marine management, fisheries or aquaculture.
Amendment No 11 [Parnell–1]—
Page 35, lines 24 to 28 [clause 16(2)]—Delete subclause (2)
Amendment No 12 [Parnell–1]—
Page 35, lines 32 and 33 [clause 16(3)(a)]—Delete 'determined by the Minister (and the Minister may put in place processes to ensure' and substitute:
referred to in subsection (1) (and the Minister must put in place processes to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,
Amendment No 13 [Parnell–1]—
Page 35, line 39 [clause 16(4)]—Delete 'subsection (3)' and substitute:
These amendments seek to set out the types of skills that should be included on these landscape boards. In this place, we often debate the creation of boards and committees. There are a number of approaches that are taken in legislation. At one end of the spectrum, you have anyone who the minister wants—no qualifications at all. At the other end of the spectrum, you have representative bodies nominating representatives to go onto committees.
The approach that is probably most common in legislation now is to give a government or the minister some leeway but to at least set out the types of experience and qualifications that are needed to do the job properly. The particular amendment No. 10 sets out that:
A regional landscape board must consist of persons who collectively have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to enable the board to carry out its functions…
And there is then a list of qualities, if you like, that should be included. I will not go through the entire list. Members have it before them, but there is a dozen or more qualifications. It is not as if one person must have each of those qualifications, but collectively that is the skill set that I believe is necessary for these regional landscape boards to do their job properly. The other amendments are effectively consequential to that.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In relation to this particular clause, once again, it is an attempt to make this legislation overly prescriptive and does not take account of the issues that are important to different areas. If we look across the state, the diversity in particular regions is quite stark. If you look at the South-East, clearly an understanding of water and groundwater issues is incredibly important.
If we look at the Green Adelaide area, which is to encompass metropolitan Adelaide, the honourable member's point (b) includes primary production or pastoral land management. I think there might be a couple of orchards in the member for Davenport's electorate but beyond that, particularly relating to the metropolitan area, putting a requirement for this particular skills matrix is inappropriate. The government opposes this amendment and, once again, I would appreciate it if other parties would indicate whether they are going to support this or not, otherwise I will have to call a division.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: As I said at clause 15, we will be supporting these amendments.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: We will be supporting it.
Amendments carried; clause as amended passed.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:
Amendment No 1 [HumanServ–1]—
Page 36, line 36 [clause 17(3)(a)(ii)]—Delete 'section 17(1)' and substitute 'section 17(1)(a)(i) and (b),'
This is the first of two amendments to provide that prescribed persons, for the purpose of section 17 of the Local Government (Elections) Act, are not eligible to be nominated as a candidate for election as a landscape board member. Prescribed persons for the purposes of the Local Government (Elections) Act are people who were council members between 1997 and 1999. There is no special reason why this category of people should be singled out for eligibility to stand in board elections. If they are on the relevant roll and meet other criteria, they will still be able to stand on that basis.
The CHAIR: Minister, do you want to move amendment No. 2 as well? I think they are related, are they not?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Certainly. It is doing the same thing, so I think it is an artefact of some piece of a clause that has been left in through the NRM legislation.
The CHAIR: Could you please move that?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:
Amendment No 2 [HumanServ–1]—
Page 37, line 11 [clause 17(3)(b)(ii)]—Delete 'section 17(1)' and substitute 'section 17(1)(a)(i) and (b),'
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: The three amendments to clause 17 we consider as technical amendments in nature and the opposition will be supporting them.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:
Amendment No 3 [HumanServ–1]—
Page 37, after line 35 [clause 17]—Insert:
(a) a council is constituted by an administrator or administrators (whether under the Local Government Act 1999 or any other Act) at the time that the processes for the conduct of an election are commenced (being at a date determined by the Minister for the purposes of this subsection); and
(b) the Minister determines, by notice in the gazette, that this subsection should apply for the purposes of the election (on the ground that it is not practicable or appropriate to use the council's voters roll for the purposes of the election),
subsections (3), (4) and (5) will apply as if the council did not exist (and as if the area in relation to which the council is constituted were an area outside the area of a council).
This is to address circumstances where a council does not have a council role due to an administrator being in place. Examples including the Roxby Downs council, which was created and operated under the Olympic Dam and Stuart Shelf Indenture. Under these arrangements, currently, no local council elections are held for this council area; an appointed administrator performs all of the functions of council. The amendment will enable the arrangements that apply outside council areas to apply in this situation, which will enable landscape board elections to be held in the Roxby Downs council area.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: As I said, we support the three amendments.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: During debate in the other place, the Minister for Environment and Water advised that he was looking at a procurement process for undertaking board elections. I am wondering if the minister who represents the Minister for Environment and Water in this place can update the committee on the expected costs of running board elections, particularly the initial election prior to a potential alignment with local government elections?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The total cost of the board member elections will depend on a range of factors, including the voting method and how those services are provided. It is envisaged that a procurement process will be run to engage the services of an external organisation equipped to run the elections. A final cost will not be known until a provider is engaged.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Can the minister outline what the expected time frame is for that procurement process, or at least what the budget is for running those elections?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We are not deliberately trying to be evasive but, because of commercial in confidence issues, I am not trying to outline too many details—
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Just timing.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Timing? Sorry. It is hard to give a definitive timetable, as the honourable member would appreciate. We are hoping to undertake the procurement in the second half of this year with elections next year.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: My next question on clause 17 relates to subclause (1), which gives a very wide discretion to the minister to determine that a person is ineligible to stand for election as a member of the board. I have two questions. I will put them both now so that the minister can get advice on both of them, because they are related.
What was the rationale behind giving the minister such a wide discretion to determine if, in the minister's opinion, someone does not have the skills and, therefore, the minister determines they are ineligible to stand? Secondly, clause 17(1) talks about, in the opinion of the minister, the necessary skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience. I think that is very similar language to clause 16, which was amended by the Hon. Mark Parnell's amendments to be more prescriptive in terms of the specific skill sets that are preferable to have for board members. Do the amendments made to clause 16 now affect how 17(1) will be interpreted; that is, it may not be as subjective for the minister to determine, given clause 16 now has noted some reasonably prescriptive skill sets?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In response to the first question, in response to feedback—just to emphasise this was through the consultation process; the participants asked that checks and balances to ensure candidates have the necessary skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience required to serve on a board—the minister has the ability to determine that a person may not stand if they are not considered to satisfy these requirements. The advice that I have received is that the amendments to the preceding clause would mean that the minister would need to take those into consideration.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: To follow up on that, does that in effect then reduce the minister's discretion? Clause 15 as amended I think included a list of (a) to (l) of skills or necessary experience in various areas. Where does the minister's discretion now come into play? If a candidate possessed some of those or, for example, if a candidate for election possessed all of those skills, on what basis could the minister then knock that person out for not having the necessary skills or experience?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think it is difficult at this point to speculate about how that may operate. It is a new piece of legislation with a set of amendments that have been made to the requirements. We may have a happy coincidence that all of the nominations and the candidates who come forward meet that entire skills matrix very neatly. There may be circumstances in which there are some candidates who fit some, and then there is a distinct lack of candidates who meet the other parts of the matrix that the government is looking for. So I think it is difficult to answer that question definitively.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Under clause 16, prior to the amendments that were successful from the Hon. Mark Parnell, it is the case that under the regime as it stood before the amendments the minister would have to publish the list of skills and qualifications, knowledge and experience; is that right?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I am advised that is correct.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: And then if the clause had passed as it was originally put up to this chamber, would the minister have been able to rule someone ineligible only against the set of skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience that the minister published? That is, if the person could demonstrate that they possessed those skills that the minister had published, would the minister have had any right to disqualify them from eligibility?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is still a difficult question to answer. I am not sure whether I was reading the honourable member's line of questioning correctly, but—
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I can rephrase it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: No—was the honourable member trying to get to: if the person thought they had the qualifications and the minister thought they did not? Is that the sort of situation you are talking about?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Sort of. Clause 16, as it came to this chamber, required that the minister determined a set of skills, knowledge, qualification and experience that the persons on the board should collectively have. Then, under clause 16(2)(b), it required that the minister publish the list of skills that the board collectively should have, and it uses in clause 17, which we are now discussing, exactly the same language, that is, 'in the opinion of the Minister, the necessary skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience'. I am just wondering, if a person could demonstrate they possessed those skills, what right would a minister have to disqualify them?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I am hoping that this provides a response that will satisfy the honourable member. In taking into consideration the necessary skills, qualifications and so forth, the list that has been added by the amendment will need to be taken into consideration, then the minister may also consider other matters, such as whether somebody has a particular offending history that means that they are not a fit and proper person to be considered. I am not sure whether we are mixing up various issues in discussing this clause.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I think this will be the final question; there might be a simpler way to put it. For the provisions of clause 17(1), is the minister entitled to take anything else into account except those things that the minster had published, or, now, because it is a list of (a) to (l), can the minister take anything else into account except for those things that are required in clause 16 in terms of the necessary skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think the advice that I have received—and I will look at our adviser here—is that there may be other matters that can be taken into consideration in addition to the ones—
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: In terms of skills and experience?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Well, other matters, such as the example that I gave in relation to if somebody had an offending history—
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Just in terms of the skills and experience part?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice that I have received is that the amendments do not reduce or increase the minister's powers to remove eligibility. Is that what you asked?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Yes.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Fantastic. Sorry it has taken a while.
The CHAIR: Does any other honourable member wish to make a contribution at clause 17? The Hon. Mr Parnell.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I will make a quick contribution now, but this issue does come up later again. In relation to the elections, the minister earlier described how the government had undertaken comprehensive consultation in good faith in relation to this bill. That may or may not be the case, but it is not entirely borne out by the evidence that is before us in the form of this bill. A number of consultant's reports were prepared by Becky Hirst Consulting. The minister put onto the Hansard record before lunch how much money had been spent on this consultation, but when you read the consultation report in relation to elections, what it says is:
The cost, effectiveness and risks of a community election process for three of the board positions was met with great concern by many people. The process of forming the Landscape Boards needs to result in a strong, equitable skills-based board with good representation and diversity.
The recommendation to the government was:
It is recommended that the Minister explore options alternative to community elections to form the membership of the Landscape SA boards—
including a range of other suggestions that they put forward. Words similar to those are repeated in numerous places in the report. What we found instead was that the government persisted in the face of this opposition to having an election process.
As I say, we will come back to this later, but I thought it is an opportune time for me to put on the record that when we originally thought that we might just get rid of the elections altogether, it was put to us that there were a number of people who thought it might have some merit, but universally they were worried about the cost. The solution that the Greens have come up with—because we are here to help—is that the first elections will be held in conjunction with local council elections to be held at the end of 2022.
The main advantage of that is one of cost. We have just had a big debate earlier about the cost of sending out levy notices and who should do it. We were berated by the minister for allegedly adding to the cost of sending out the bills that people will have to pay, yet when the government consults, in good faith we are told, and the clear advice to them is, 'Maybe don't go down this path because it's really expensive,' then the government does not hear that advice at all.
In relation to board elections, the Greens have not deleted clause 17 or moved to delete clause 17, but we have, in transitional provisions, made arrangement for the first elections to be postponed until they can be done cheaply in conjunction with local government elections. If I could just refer again very briefly to some other comments that came out of the consultant's report to government:
In many locations it was felt that an election process would be a waste of money, take a lot of time, and participants weren't sure who would vote. It was felt that a community election process could be costly and result in three appointments of the same type of people and thereby missing out on an opportunity to increase diversity. Concerns were raised from NRM boards about whether the cost of the election process would be funded by the levy.
That is me channelling the minister earlier: 'Who is going to pay? Is it going to come out of the levy, or is it going to come from somewhere else?' My response, and maybe it was a flippant one, was that the punters always pay. I make the point that, in relation to any area of government, the populace, the people—whether they are ratepayers, taxpayers, whatever they are—ultimately are the ones who end up paying.
I make the observation that, whilst we are not seeking to remove the board election provisions, if my later amendment is successful they will be held later in the year 2022, which incidentally is after the next state election. That will give some time for reflection because if the current government is returned they might say, 'Well, we are going to proceed with elections.' If there is a change of government, then there will be time for the parliament to at least remove section 17 and the transitional provisions that we will be voting on later. I make the observation now that these election provisions share no level of consensus in the community; in fact, they were strongly opposed by most people who were consulted.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If I could respond by saying that the election of community members to natural resources boards was anticipated in the state election, no less, and has had considerable support in the community through that process. Concerns about the concept of community elections have focused on the potential cost and the potential for elections to result in boards not having a good mix of members, which the honourable member has raised.
A range of potential membership models was considered, including suggestions raised in the community engagement process. Election of three members was considered the best way of giving communities a direct voice in board membership, reflecting the government's commitment to putting community at the centre. To minimise costs, elections will leverage local government arrangements and technological advancements. Landscape boards in regional areas will have a mixture of minister-appointed and elected members to ensure that there is a good mix of members on boards.
If the honourable member's amendments are successful in this regard, it will mean that elections will not be held until the next local government elections in late 2022, not permitting representation of community-elected members until 2023. Community elections will give regional communities a voice in who sits on their regional board. As I said before, coming into government, our statewide survey indicated strong support for local communities being able to nominate board members in their own region.
We do not believe it is acceptable for regional communities to have to wait four years for this commitment to be delivered. Noting that the first elections will not be held in conjunction with local government elections, the government is looking at ways to minimise the cost of the first elections, such as using electronic voting technology, which I understand the honourable member may be a supporter of. I may be misrepresenting him; he will correct me if I am.
Clause as amended passed.
Clauses 18 to 21 passed.
The CHAIR: We now come to clause 22, and we have amendment No. 14 [Parnell-1].
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I will not move this amendment just now; I will hear from other members as to their views. Essentially, both my amendment No. 14 and the opposition's amendment No. 9 cover the same territory. My amendment is pretty straightforward. It just says that the agendas and minutes of a regional landscape board must be made available to the public in accordance with the regulations.
The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Yes, that is my one. The opposition's proposed amendments go into a great deal more detail and include a requirement for the meetings to be held in public. They set out some requirements in relation to how notices of meetings are to be given and also some provisions to do with proper meeting procedures, for example, closing a meeting if confidential information is being received.
The opposition's proposal is to insert a new clause 22A and new clause 22B which, as I say, are on the same topic as mine but go into a great deal more detail. I will not move mine just now, and if the opposition indicates that they will be proceeding with their amendments then I will support those in preference to mine.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: The opposition can indicate some things on this, I am pleased to say. This is a little confusing but I might indicate that I do not intend to proceed with amendment No. 9 [Maher-1] but do intend to proceed with amendment No. 1 [Maher-2], which replaces it. Amendment No. 1 [Maher-2] does what the Hon. Mark Parnell has outlined, and inserts after clause 22 a clause 22A and a clause 22B, which go into some detail.
In some ways it is similar in its aims and objectives as the Hon. Mr Parnell's amendment No. 14. Our amendment seeks to ensure greater transparency and accountability for regional landscape boards. It includes several key provisions: a requirement for a public notice of intention to hold a public board meeting, including a place and a time; a requirement that minutes and agendas of each meeting be made available to the public via a website; and a requirement that the agenda be made available at least three days before a meeting. It also recognises that regional landscape boards will sometimes need to consider matters confidentially and makes allowances for this.
Similar provisions currently exist in the NRM Act and I note that there was some suggestion, when this was discussed in the other place, that the minister may deal with some of these issues by regulation, but I invite the committee today to take the opportunity to enshrine them in legislation rather than to leave it to chance in regulations. In summary, we will be proceeding with amendment No. 1 [Maher-2] but not amendment No. 9. It might be worth getting an indication as to the will of the chamber as to which way they may support it and we can go ahead on that basis.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I will take on board what the Hon. Mark Parnell said and also what the leader said. We will be supporting the leader's amendment No. 1 [Maher-2], which goes into a great deal of detail about transparency and what is going to be required in relation to that, as well as making meetings open to the public and making their agendas public. There is also a provision in there in relation to holding meetings in camera, where it may be necessary. I will support the opposition's amendment No. 1 [Maher-2].
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I indicate that the government's preference is for the Leader of the Opposition's amendment, with some minor amendments. Am I able to indicate what they will be?
The CHAIR: All I have at the moment is the Hon. Mr Parnell having—no, you have not moved yet so just hold your horses, the Hon. Mr Parnell.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I will just fix this up: I will not be moving my amendment. I have no further questions on clause 22, and I look forward to a debate on clause 22A and clause 22B, as proposed to be inserted by the Leader of the Opposition.
New clauses 22A and 22B.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 1 [Maher–2]—
Page 39, after line 32—Insert:
22A—Meetings of boards to be held in public
(1) Subject to this clause, a meeting of a regional landscape board must be conducted in a place open to the public.
(2) A regional landscape board must give public notice of its intention to hold a meeting that will be open to the public in accordance with the requirements prescribed by the regulations.
(3) The notice must state the time and place at which the meeting will be held.
(4) The regulations may dispense with the requirement to give notice in prescribed circumstances.
(5) A regional landscape board may order that the public be excluded from attendance at a meeting if the board considers it to be necessary and appropriate to act in a meeting closed to the public in order to receive, discuss or consider any information or matter in confidence.
(6) A member of the public who, knowing that an order is in force under subsection (5), enters or remains in a room in which a meeting of the board is being held is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty: $2,500.
(7) If an order is made under subsection (5), a note must be made in the minutes of the making of the order and of the grounds on which it was made.
22B—Agenda and minutes of meetings open to public to be made available
(1) A regional landscape board must make available to members of the public copies of the agenda, and copies of the minutes, of each meeting, or the part of each meeting, that is open to members of the public by publishing them on a website determined by the board, or in such other manner prescribed by the regulations.
(2) An agenda under subsection (1) must be made available at least 3 days before the meeting to which it relates is held except where the meeting is held in urgent circumstances.
I will not reagitate the issues that I already discussed when we were discussing clause 22 and the possible amendments to it and after it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: What is the process? Do I now seek to amend?
The CHAIR: The process is that perhaps for the benefit of the chamber indicate—without moving just yet—what you would like to change in the Leader of the Opposition's amendments and then we will go from there.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In amendment No. 1 [Maher-2], in the proposed new clause 22A at subclause (5), on the third line, insert the word 'prescribed' before the word 'information'.
The CHAIR: So, if it is read, it is 'any prescribed information'?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Correct. Then, in proposed clause 22B at subclause (1), change the wording on the third line to 'publishing them in a manner determined by the board'.
The CHAIR: So you are seeking for the words 'on a website' to be deleted, if it is moved, and to replace them with the words 'in a manner'. That is as I understand it. Before I get the minister to move that, perhaps we can debate that issue. It would assist me.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: In relation to the proposed new clause 22A, I think adding the word 'prescribed' causes no great harm. In fact, if anything, it tightens the ability for the public to be excluded by only limiting the reason for closing a meeting to the public to prescribed information. I do not think that causes any great harm.
In relation to the proposed new clause 22B, the words are that the agenda and the minutes need to be published 'on a website determined by the board, or in such other manner prescribed by the regulations'. If the regulations prescribe something other than a website, it does not have to go on the website, so there is no need to actually remove the words 'on a website'. But really, that is the modern way for agencies to actually publish to the community what they are doing.
We recently went through a bill of many dozens of clauses. It was called the simplify bill, and almost every one of those clauses was to insert a reference to an obligation by a board, committee, minister or decision-maker to include information on a website to be maintained, etc. We spent a lot of time basically fixing up old acts of parliament to include the requirement for them to put information on websites, so it does not make a whole lot of sense to me now that we would remove the reference to publishing minutes and agendas on a website.
It seems to me that, until some new technology comes along, that is the best, cheapest and easiest method to make sure that this information is available to anyone who seeks to access it. I cannot see the value in amending 22B, but I am happy enough with the minister's proposed amendment to 22A.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I will just say that I find myself in agreement with the Hon. Mark Parnell. The addition, in new 22A(5), of the words 'prescribed information' tightens it up and makes it more transparent, so you can put it in there. But in terms of 22B(1), the deletion of the word 'website' does not do much except make it less likely that people will find out about what is going on. For that reason alone we will not accept that, but we will accept the minister's first amendment. That might guide the minister in what she decides to move.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: Could the minister clarify or give us a reason why 'website' needs to be deleted?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is a simple reason that is probably less about the bill and more about a matter of wanting things to be technology neutral. I think we are probably all showing our age in this chamber. I would never dispute that the Hon. Mr Parnell is a modern man, but communication technology changes over time. This is relying on, as the honourable Opposition Whip likes to refer to it, that 'interweb thingy'. We do see the way that people communicate and the technology they use changes over time. We have already seen that, particularly younger people, are less reliant on emails. It might seem like it is being a bit pedantic, but people often use Dropbox, phone apps and a whole range of things.
The federal government is using apps to communicate with people who interact with the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and so forth. To prescribe the 'interweb thingy' as the means by which boards must communicate with people, we believe, is just a little too prescriptive. In 20 years' time, people may look back on this legislation and go, 'What were they thinking? Why didn't they allow for that?'
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I just do not understand that reasoning. Websites are going to be around for a lot longer than we are. Furthermore, I am just going to put on my cynical hat here because we have seen occasions in the past where some organisation had to publish a notice somewhere, and it was just done in a sneaky way so that people just were not even aware that it had been done.
I think what this does is give the opportunity for these details to be accessed widely. In regional communities we are talking about people who may not perhaps see it in the newspaper. They may be hundreds of miles away. They may not get this particular publication or the way the board wanted to determine publicly. This makes it easier for people to access information. I do not know why you would want to take away that ability to make it easier for people to access information. I just do not understand it. I will not be supporting removing 'website'.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I have just one other quick observation. It just occurred to me that the only reason that we know that the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board was strongly opposed to private development in Flinders Chase National Park is because we read it in their minutes on their website.
On a sample size of one, I accept what the Hon. Frank Pangallo and the Leader of the Opposition are saying. It is the technology that is currently used. The minister mentioned others, most of which require passwords or something you have to be a member of, but a website is accessible to the whole world just by using the universal resource locator and keying that into your search engine or your browser. I am not convinced by the minister's answer. We will not be supporting her proposed amendment to 22B.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I am quite happy with both amendments actually. I am sure that any common-sense board would understand how their community communicates. If they thought there was any problem, they would publish both on the website and in the newspapers or whatever.
The CHAIR: Minister, now that we have articulated that, it appears, as I understand it, you have some consensus for inserting the word 'prescribed' but not the second proposed amendment. Do you wish to proceed with both?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes.
The CHAIR: In that case, I will get you to move as follows: that you seek to move an amendment to amendment No. 1 [Maher-2] by inserting the word 'prescribed' in 22A(5) after the word 'any' but before the word 'information'. That will be the first amendment. The second amendment you will move is to amend 22B by deleting the words 'on a website' and inserting the words 'in a manner'. I will put the questions separately. Over to you.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek to move an amendment to subclause (5) by inserting the word 'prescribed' between the words 'any' and 'information'.
The CHAIR: I will put that question, which I think we have consensus on. The question is that the word 'prescribed' be inserted into the new proposed clause 22A(5), after the word 'any' but before 'information'.
Amendment carried; new clause 22A as amended inserted.
The CHAIR: Now we come to proposed clause 22B. Minister, if you could move to delete 'on a website' and insert 'in a manner'.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move that the words 'on a website' be deleted and be replaced with the words 'in a manner'.
The CHAIR: I put the question, as moved by the minister, which seeks to delete in the proposed new clause 22B the words 'on a website' and insert in their place 'in a manner' be agreed to.
Amendment negatived; new clause 22B inserted.
The CHAIR: We have three amendments: amendment No. 10 [Maher-1], amendment No. 11 [Maher-1] and amendment No. 15 [Parnell-1].
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 10 [Maher–1]—
Page 39, line 39 [clause 23(1)(a)]—After 'landscape management' insert 'and biodiversity conservation'
This amendment seeks to insert after the words 'landscape management', 'and biodiversity conservation'. Like previous amendments, this amendment seeks to ensure biodiversity conservation is a key part of the landscape system. The amendment inserts consideration of biodiversity conversation in the functions of the board to ensure that it guides the work of the boards which will play a major role in implementing this system. While the minister in the other place contends that the biodiversity outcomes are already met in this clause, the opposition maintains that explicit references are important and, in any event, if it is already met by the clause, this will do no harm.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: This is an area that we have traversed previously. The government supports this amendment. It reflects that biodiversity outcomes are central to the concept of integrated landscape management.
The CHAIR: Unless any other honourable member has a further contribution, I intend to put the question.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 11 [Maher–1]—
Page 40, after line 24 [clause 23(1)]—Insert:
(ea) to undertake an active role in ensuring, insofar as is reasonably practical, that the board's regional landscape plan, landscape affecting activities control policies, water allocation plans and water affecting activities control policies, advance the objects of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 and promote the conservation of wildlife as envisaged under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972; and
This amendment inserts an extra paragraph (ea) into clause 23(1). The effect is that the Natural Resources Management Act or the potential Landscape South Australia Act is not the only piece of legislation governing the use of South Australia's environmental and natural resources. As such, the opposition thinks it is appropriate to link this bill with the Native Vegetation Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Issues of native vegetation and native wildlife will be particularly relevant to the work of regional landscape boards. Creating these links and emphasising the importance of our native vegetation and wildlife is therefore something that we see as very important.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I will just jump in and put on the record that I think this is a fine amendment. If the object of the exercise is to integrate land use and management in South Australia, then this makes a lot of sense. If members are interested in a practical example, you only have to look at the requirements in the National Parks and Wildlife Act in relation to native animals.
Native animals could be on an endangered list in one piece of legislation but might be regarded as an overabundant pest species by neighbouring farmers, so you have to actually reconcile these two things. Requiring the landscape boards to have regard to the requirements of other pieces of legislation actually adds a level of integration that I think is most important. It is the same with the Native Vegetation Act, as well.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I, too, reiterate the words of the Hon. Mark Parnell. It is an important amendment and I think it goes to the point that Mr Parnell made. We will be supporting it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment. The passage of the bill does not impact on the effective operation of the Native Vegetation Act or the National Parks and Wildlife Act. The proposed amendment would shift the relationship with the Native Vegetation Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Act and regional planning instruments.
In consulting on the reforms, stakeholders were told that the relationship with other legislation was to be explored separately and to be the subject of further consultation. Any further reforms in coming years will be the subject of further engagement. Currently, the Natural Resources Management Act provides that regional plans must be consistent with a range of plans and policies, including management plans under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, native vegetation principles and native vegetation guidelines.
As a matter of general practice, plans and policies implemented under the bill would take into account related existing plans and policies of complementary legislation without needing to exhaustively list the requirements to do so. As part of delivering a simpler framework, the bill instead provides that regional landscape plans and water allocation plans must be consistent with plans, policies, strategies or guidelines prescribed by the regulations. This enables regulations to be made if required.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I have a question in regard to this amendment. Does this mean that the natural resources management boards are going to duplicate the work of the national parks, etc.?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: No. I will expand on that a little more: this says, insofar as is reasonably practical, that they take into account the objects of those other acts. It does not mean that they have to do everything that the other ones do and necessarily duplicate everything but, insofar as is reasonably practical, take into account the objects of those acts.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: What protection is there to ensure that they do not duplicate?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: The boards are given the powers and responsibilities that they have by the legislation that governs them. The fact that they should, and only insofar as is reasonably practical, take into account the objects of another act does not mean that they are given any powers or any responsibilities that the other act confers on the regime that looks after the native vegetation or the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Just to add very briefly for the benefit of honourable members, the animals example is a good one. It is not the job of these landscape boards to issue destruction permits, for example, in relation to native animals that farmers might regard as a pest but the national parks act might list as an endangered species; the management plan for the park might have a recovery program for it, for example.
All this provision really does is force the landscape boards to, as far as is reasonably practical, have regard to the fact that there are other management plans and other pieces of legislation that also impact on their work. It does not actually give the landscape boards any of the powers that the Native Vegetation Council or the minister have in relation to animals.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government takes a slightly different interpretation to this clause. The keywords in here are, in that first line, 'to undertake an active role in ensuring', etc., and then those other pieces of legislation are referenced at the end of the proposed clause. So it is really stepping on the toes of other legislation in many ways and trying to push them towards those being the purpose of this legislation rather than what it is at the moment, which has much more to do with landscape management. So we are opposed to this amendment.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:
Amendment No 15 [Parnell–1]—
Page 41, after line 16 [clause 23(4)]—Insert:
(ab) the constituent councils for the region, and other councils as may be relevant; and
This is a very simple amendment. It amends clause 23(4). Subclause (4) basically is a list of who regional landscape boards should seek to work collaboratively with. The list is fairly thin at the moment. It is 'other regional landscape boards', which is fair enough, 'relevant sections and cross sections of the community, including Aboriginal people', yes, and 'persons who own and occupy land within the region of the board (insofar as may be relevant).'
The clear omission from that list is local government. My amendment simply seeks to insert into that list a requirement for landscape boards to seek to work collaboratively with the constituent councils for the region or any other councils as may be relevant. It is out of an abundance of caution, because of course we would hope that landscape boards would seek to work collaboratively with local councils, but to make it crystal clear I think it is best to incorporate it into this clause.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment. The honourable member has read these clauses in isolation. If I could draw his attention to clause 23(3) as follows:
In performing its functions, a regional landscape board should…
(b) create strong strategic and funding partnerships and pursue appropriate and cost-effective opportunities to deliver its work programs through partnerships or other arrangements with other entities, agencies or authorities...
And further at clause 25:
A regional landscape board should work to provide, or to facilitate or support the provision of, funding and grants to councils and other bodies, organisations, groups and persons...
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: As a result of the Leader of the Government's explanation I will not be supporting this amendment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: The opposition will be supporting this amendment.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I will be supporting it.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Is there a part in clause 23, that is the functions of the board, that have a requirement for boards to take into account or consider the views of Aboriginal people or the requirements under Aboriginal tradition of land and what should be done to land in the area?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: That is almost a Dorothy Dixer. If I could draw the honourable member's attention, clause 23(4) provides:
A regional landscape board should also seek to work collaboratively with…
(b) relevant sections and cross-sections of the community, including Aboriginal people…
So, yes, that clearly is.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: My question was: is there a requirement to do so? The minister answered it as a Dorothy Dixer, I think, without listening to the question. What is the requirement? What actually is required? The word 'should' is in there, so is the minister saying the word 'should' is not 'should' and it 'must'? What is the actual requirement that they must do it?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I can provide the honourable member with quite a lengthy list of consultation with Aboriginal communities through this bill. It is our view that the bill provides a much stronger emphasis on Aboriginal people and cultural values in natural resources management relative to the existing NRM Act. For the first time, supporting the interests of Aboriginal people is an object of the bill. Currently, the NRM Act only requires Aboriginal heritage to be considered under a principle of ecologically sustainable development (ESD).
This represents a significant recognition of Aboriginal people's interests when considering the ESD of the natural resources that make up or contribute to the state's landscapes. Recognition of spiritual, social, customary and economic significance of landscapes to Aboriginal people is a principle of ESD in the bill. A broader concept of informed decision-making is included in the bill, including the role of Aboriginal traditional knowledge as a principle of ESD. The bill also introduces the concept of landscape, with landscape being defined as including the cultural and other values people have towards the landscape.
There is a new requirement, which is the clause that I have referred to, clause 23(4). Regional priorities will be shaped by Aboriginal traditional knowledge, which is clause 45(1)(b). Taken together, these arrangements reflect that Aboriginal issues and interests will need to inform an important part of a board's decision-making and day-to-day functions, noting that the best way to achieve that outcome will be different for different regions and communities.
The bill is not prescriptive about how this should occur; rather, there are a number of mechanisms to achieve this, including board membership, committees, ongoing collaboration and consultation. Boards will need to take responsibility for how they meet their requirements around this, noting the minister's overall accountability for the administration of the act.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Again, I know the minister is reading out a list of things from other sections, but in relation to clause 23—and I know the minister used the term again about boards being required to do something—are boards required to work collaboratively with Aboriginal people? Is it a requirement or is it something that they should do?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The operative word there is 'should', so if they did not, then I think questions could be asked quite appropriately of why not.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: A final question on clause 23, again for clarity. The relationship between clauses 23 and 24; that is, will the Green Adelaide board be required to comply with the functions as outlined in clause 23?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Our advice is yes.
Clause as amended passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 12 [Maher–1]—
Page 41, line 38 [clause 24(2)(e)]—Delete 'and flora' and substitute ', flora and ecosystem health'
The insertion of this amendment is designed to recognise that flora and fauna alone do not constitute a healthy ecosystem and taking an ecosystem-wide approach is essential to achieving that outcome.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think we support the same outcomes but we disagree with the language used by the opposition, given that promoting ecosystem health is part of delivering integrated landscape management, which is reflected as an object of the legislation, that all boards, including Green Adelaide, will be required to consider and seek to further in carrying out their functions.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: We support the amendment.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: We will be supporting it.
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
Clause 25 passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I have a question for the minister about clause 26 in relation to grassroots grant programs. Will funds for grassroots grants be made available only through funds raised from landscape levies, or will other funds be made available for these programs?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Appropriation?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: For further clarity, I guess what I am asking about these grassroots grant programs is: is it anticipated that that will come from the levies, and be some sort of proportion of the levies, or is it anticipated that these will be other funds outside the levies that go towards these programs?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think the answer to that is both. From a proportion of the levies, boards may have other resources that they can apply to that as well.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: It may be a portion of the levies, but what other resources will be available to boards? Where would they get those resources from?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The grassroots grants could potentially be funded from a combination of levies, state appropriation—where that exists—or federal grants, depending on their conditions. One example where state appropriation is likely is the AW board.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Is it expected that for grants that come out of the levies there would be a similar proportion across all the boards, or is it completely at the discretion of each board to take as much of the levy as they please for grants? Is it expected that there will be some consistency across boards?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If I could direct the honourable member to subclause (3):
The amount to be made available on an annual basis by a regional landscape board…will be an amount determined by the Minister from time to time.
So for each board, it may be a different percentage.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Clause 26(4) of the bill states that the minister may establish requirements or criteria for grant applications and assessment. Has the minister or the department drafted any such requirements or criteria to date?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Administration of grassroots grants will need to comply with Treasurer's Instruction 15 as well as relevant accounting standards. Many grants will comprise small amounts. Treasurer's Instruction 15 provides for certain safeguards, including, for grants under $10,000, written evidence of the grant request and receipt, maintenance of records of the payment and a requirement for the grant received to be acquitted. Grants over $10,000 generally require a funding agreement.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I agree; that is all well and good. That is what Treasurer's Instruction 15 says but, in addition to that, clause 26(4) of this bill provides that the minister may establish requirements and criteria for grant application and assessment. My question is: has the minister or the department drafted any such requirements to date themselves?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is: not as yet.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Because this is discretionary—the subclause uses the word 'may'—is it anticipated that the minister will establish such requirements and criteria for grant applications and assessment?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Following on from that, has consideration been given to what may be included in those yet?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice is that preliminary work is underway, but it has not been formulated into anything at this stage.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Is it anticipated from this preliminary work that any grants under this fund will require the minister to personally sign off on them before they are allocated, or will it be completely at the discretion of the board, without any need for ministerial approval?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that regional landscape boards will administer the grants program for their regions.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I understand that. In saying that, am I to take it that it is anticipated that the minister will not be signing off on any of these grants?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice is that the boards will issue the grants.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I know they will come through the boards, but will they require ministerial sign-off before they are granted? That is the question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My advice is that it is not the minister's intention that he sign off on them.
Clauses 27 to 32 passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Will the minister advise whether the current enterprise bargaining agreement for staff currently employed under the NRM regime will be in effect after they become staff under the landscape scheme that this bill introduces?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Will be in effect, did you say?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Yes. Will the minister advise whether the current EBA for the staff currently employed will still be in effect after they become landscape staff?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is intended that any employees who transfer to a board as part of the landscape reforms will do so with predominantly the same or similar terms and conditions of employment as those currently under the Public Sector Act and the relevant awards and enterprise agreements. This will be the subject of further work as part of transition planning and consultation in line with industrial obligations.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Do I take it from that, that there is no assurance that current EBA provisions will apply to staff who are transferred over, just that 'we will follow the law'?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that there will need to be a new EBA but it will follow the conditions of existing arrangements.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: If there will need to be a new EBA, can the minister give an assurance to staff that there will not be any lessening of their working conditions or their pay under the new system?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My advice is that the minister in the other place was asked these questions and he gave an assurance that similar terms and conditions would be offered to existing employees.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Is the minister saying that terms and conditions will not be diminished by the passing of this act? Is that the assurance being given?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice is that that is not the intention.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: So will people be worse off?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that we do not envisage that staff will be worse off.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: There is a lot of intention and envisaging without a clear answer there, but is there any expectation that there will be a loss of staff either in terms of headcount or FTEs in this transition?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is hard to be definitive on this matter because there will be new boards being formed, so it will be subject to those transition arrangements.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Subject to those transition arrangements, does the minister envisage or intend for there to be less staff?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I do not think I am in a position to answer that question and give you a definitive answer.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Yes. But, again, subject to the transition and the new boards, is there any intention for there to be less staff as a result of this?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice that I have received is that the government is working towards the safe and secure transition of staff. There is no intention to reduce staff. Our future staff arrangements are at the discretion of arms-length boards.
Clauses 34 to 36 passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Can the minister confirm that the Green Adelaide board is a regional landscape board for the purposes of this clause?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice is yes, it is.
Clauses 38 to 41 passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 13 [Maher–1]—
Page 53, after line 41 [clause 42(3)]—Insert:
(da) assess the state and condition of the natural resources of the State; and
This amendment inserts a new paragraph (da) to assess the state and condition of the natural resources of the state. It is intended to support the scientific work currently being undertaken in our state with regard to the assessment and monitoring of the condition of South Australia's environment and natural resources. It is our view that it should be an integral part of the landscape framework, so we seek to enshrine it in the bill that we are debating.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment. Clause 42(4) of the bill already requires a state landscape strategy to take the state and condition of the state's landscapes into account. This includes the state and condition of natural resources and the other components that make up the state's landscapes. This particular amendment would require the state landscape strategy to include an assessment of the state and condition of natural resources, which will divert resources into preparing and publishing material that is available elsewhere. In addition, it does not reflect that, in line with the broader direction of the reforms, the strategy's focus is on landscapes, which is defined to include natural resources.
For the first time, statewide planning will need to take regional priorities into account, with regional plans outlining how those priorities are expected to maintain, protect, improve or enhance the state of landscapes at a regional and local level. The underlying concern with this amendment is that the state landscape strategy should be a high-level document. This clause reinserts provisions that are in the existing NRM Act and will cause the board to have to undertake further reports, which is something that our boards are heartily tired of having to repetitively do, as I have heard consistently over the years.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: For the record, the Greens will be supporting this amendment to clause 42 and will also be supporting the Leader of the Opposition's other amendments to clause 42, which, whilst they are not consequential, canvass issues that we have agitated to a fair degree. Just to assist the council, we will be supporting each of the four opposition amendments to clause 42.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: We will be supporting the opposition amendments.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I will not be supporting this amendment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 14 [Maher–1]—
Page 54, after line 2 [clause 42(3)]—Insert:
(ea) provide for monitoring and evaluating the state and condition of the natural resources of the State; and
As the Hon. Mark Parnell outlined just a moment ago, this is very similar, although not consequential, to a previous one. Again, it seeks to support the scientific work being undertaken and to ensure this legislation requires that that work be undertaken, which we think will lead to the better health of our environment and natural resources.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment because we think that it is already covered through other mechanisms and this is just another prescriptive way of managing our environmental assets.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: We will be supporting the opposition amendment.
The CHAIR: As I understand it, the Hon. Mr Parnell and the Hon. Mr Pangallo are both supporting all the amendments to clause 42 which the opposition is putting forward, so I am proceeding on that basis.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 15 [Maher–1]—
Page 54, line 8 [clause 42(4)(a)]—Delete paragraph (a)
I will not speak at length on it. In fact, I think it is actually consequential to my amendment No. 13 in that it reorders it as well.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We are opposed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 16 [Maher–1]—
Page 54, after line 11 [clause 42(4)]—Insert:
(d) the best available climate science information.
Again, it is similar in nature to the previous three amendments to clause 42 that have been moved, but in many ways it may be the most important amendment. The seriousness of climate change—or the climate emergency, as it is often termed—necessitates that this legislation speak to and address the threat that it poses.
It particularly seeks to ensure that the best available climate science underpins the state landscape strategy in recognition of the huge implications climate change is having, and will continue to have, around the globe but particularly on a state like South Australia, which is so dependent not just economically but in so many other ways, including our water supply and our standard of living, on the climate. We think this is a critically important amendment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment, not for any reason that the best available climate science information is not important. Indeed, we would assume that that would be sought in any case, but to identify one type of science over others is not necessarily best practice for legislation. Science should underpin a large range of the activities that happen under this legislation. We also are seeking to put some weight towards local and traditional knowledge in this legislation. So to elevate one form of science over others, we think, is inappropriate.
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I intend to move the amendment standing in my name. This amendment is closely related to the next amendment, amendment No. 18 [Maher-1]. At this time, it might be worth seeking the views of the chamber as amendment No. 16 [Parnell-1] is very similar to amendment No. 18 [Maher-1]. If it is the will of the chamber to support the Parnell amendment, I can foreshadow that the opposition will not be moving amendment No. 18. Given that amendment No. 17 is closely aligned, it might be worth seeking the views of the chamber on the Parnell amendment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government's intention is to support amendment No. 17 [Maher-1] and to oppose amendment No. 16 [Parnell-1].
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: This is about as complicated as it gets because we have both sought to insert a new paragraph and they are not mutually exclusive. In other words, and I will be guided by parliamentary counsel as always, but it strikes me that they both have slightly different jobs to do. My intention was actually to support both. Just to make it really clear: basically, the bill as drafted requires such consultation as the minister determines, so unfettered ministerial discretion as to who to consult.
The Maher amendment No. 18 requires the minister to consult with bodies that are, in the opinion of the minister, bodies interested in or involved in the management of the state's landscapes. My amendment says that the minister must at least consult with peak bodies. I will take any technical guidance that is required because I would have thought that if both the Parnell and Maher amendments passed, there is a little bit of wordsmithing to be done by parliamentary counsel. There was always going to be because they both seek to insert a new paragraph (1a).
Whilst the Hon. Kyam Maher suggested that it might be one or the other, I would be interested in exploring whether we can do them both. Given the hour, it is not a die in the ditch issue. We have already tested the will of the chamber in relation to ensuring that peak bodies are consulted, and that is certainly my amendment, but, as I say, that is not to say that the Hon. Kyam Maher's proposed consultation words are not valid as well, so my intention was to support both.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If I can explain the government's position. We support the Maher amendment No. 17, which we believe to be broader in terms of consultation. One of the limitations of the Parnell amendment, for instance, is that it does not include Aboriginal people because they are not a part of a particular peak body.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Just for the sake of clarity, I might just reiterate that if, for instance, the Hon. Frank Pangallo was minded to support the Parnell amendment, I will not be moving either amendment No. 17 or amendment No. 18.
The CHAIR: Leader of the Opposition, just hold your horses there slightly because I am just taking some advice from parliamentary counsel to see whether the Hon. Mr Parnell's proposition is correct, that they are not in conflict—just for the benefit of informing the chamber, before you all lock into your positions, being the benevolent Chair of committees that I am. The Hon Mr Pangallo, you do not need to commit yourself just yet if you do not wish to.
Parliamentary counsel has advised through the Clerk that the Hon. Mr Parnell's amendments and the Hon. Mr Maher's amendments can sit by side with some minor amendments to the Hon. Mr Maher's, which can either be done by us or between the houses. It is inserting in amendment No. 18 [Maher-1] the words '(other than peak bodies)' after the word 'bodies'. I only put that into the committee for members to debate. If you do not wish to, that is obviously up to you.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Given the advice, I can inform the chamber that it is now my intention, should both sets of amendments find support within the chamber, to move the Maher amendment in the amended form, as has been suggested.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: Talk about an amendment that splits hairs. I will be supporting the Maher amendment as it is.
The CHAIR: I suppose the question is: will you be minded to support the Hon. Mr Parnell's amendment?
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: And the Parnell, yes; putting them together.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: For the record, I was going to support the Parnell amendment, but I am quite happy to support the Maher amendment as amended.
The CHAIR: Minister, do you want to speak at this juncture? Where I think we are sitting, the Hon. Mr Maher is going to move an amendment to his amendment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: To amendment No. 18? What is he doing on amendment No. 17?
The CHAIR: He has not moved it yet, but when he moves it, he will be moving it and inserting additional words. That is going to find favour with the Greens, SA-Best and, indeed, Mr Darley.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can I clarify, then, are we debating amendment No. 17 [Maher-1]?
The CHAIR: We are debating amendments Nos 17 and 18 [Maher-1] and Mr Parnell's No. 16, but no-one has actually moved anything just yet.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Alright, that is fine. I will just repeat the government's position: we support amendment No. 17 [Maher-1], conditional on amendment No. 18 being agreed to without the suggested amendments. Does everyone follow that? We are opposed to the Parnell amendment.
The CHAIR: Yes, that makes perfect sense. As I understand the honourable member's intentions, the Hon. Mr Maher will be successful in moving amendment No. 17, amendment No. 18 with some additional words inserted, and the council will find favour by majority with the Hon. Mr Parnell's amendment No. 16 [Parnell-1]. Any honourable member can scream out if they do not think I am on the right track. Leader of the Opposition, if you could move amendment No. 17 [Maher-1].
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 17 [Maher–1]—
Page 54, line 19 [clause 43(1)]—Delete 'The Minister' and substitute:
Subject to subsection (1a), the Minister
The CHAIR: I just need an amendment to your amendment. I am talking about amendment No. 17 [Maher-1], which you have moved. If you could move that in an amended form: 'Subject to subsections (1a) and (1b), the Minister'.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move my amendment in the amended form, as suggested.
The CHAIR: That is because in amendment No. 18 [Maher-1], that becomes (1b). It is purely technical; it does not change the intent.
Amendment in amended form carried.
The CHAIR: We now come to amendment No. 18 [Maher-1] and I ask the Leader of the Opposition to move that but in an amended form. Where it says 'insert (1a)', that is 'insert (1b)', and also to insert after the word 'bodies', '(other than peak bodies)'.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 18 [Maher–1]—
Page 54, after line 24 [clause 43]—Insert:
(1b) The Minister must at least, in acting under subsection (1), consult with bodies that are, in the opinion of the Minister, bodies (other than peak bodies) interested or involved in management of the State's landscapes.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:
Amendment No 16 [Parnell–1]—
Page 54, after line 24 [clause 43]—Insert:
(1a) The Minister must at least, in acting under subsection (1), consult with each peak body.
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
Progress reported; committee to sit again.