(Continued from 1 August 2019.)
The ACTING CHAIR (Hon. D.G.E. Hood): Does any honourable member wish to make a contribution at clause 44? The Hon. Ms Bonaros.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I indicate that I will be moving the Hon. Frank Pangallo's amendments in his absence.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 19 [Maher–1]—
Page 55, after line 8 [clause 45(1)]—Insert:
(aa) include information about the issues surrounding the management of natural resources and the state of landscapes at the regional and local level, including information as to methods for protecting, improving and enhancing the quality or value of natural resources within the relevant region, and the health of those aspects of the environment that depend on those natural resources.
This amendment seeks to ensure regional landscape plans include information regarding the ways in which natural resources will be protected or improved and ensure the health of ecosystems within a region. In our view, this key information is missing and is a requirement for a regional landscape plan in the bill as it currently stands. While the board may determine these to be part of its key priorities, the opposition views them as a key to the work of regional landscape boards and as such should be a common requirement for all boards.
I note that the minister has stated his view that boards should, to paraphrase, spend less time planning and more time doing. We believe this amendment incorporates work that boards should be doing anyway and as such should be a key part of regional landscape plans.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: This is a bit of a common theme that has emerged throughout the debate on this legislation, which we saw last time we debated this legislation. There was a difference of opinion very much between the Labor opposition and the Liberal government and based on the very consistent feedback that we received through the consultation process, but also over many years, and has been particularly well articulated in this place over many years by many members from various parties, not just the Liberal Party, in that the natural resources management system as established by the former government's legislation has led to unnecessarily prescriptive processes, and we see this in the same vein.
If I can address the amendments as a group: it reintroduces unnecessary complexity into regional landscape planning. What we heard during the consultation process was that people who are involved in natural resources management are sick of repetitive and lengthy planning processes and lengthy regional plans running to multiple volumes. Going forward, the intent is for plans to be simple, high-level documents that drive a focus of effort. Boards will be focused on delivering five strategic priorities for the region that have been identified in consultation with their communities, as well as taking into account scientific and other expert information. Identifying strategic priorities does not negate appropriate analysis of the broad range of matters, which will remain the focus of regional landscape boards. This is part of delivering a simpler approach to regional planning to refocus effort and resources on delivering outcomes on ground for the benefit of the community.
The four amendments filed in the name of the Leader of the Opposition on regional planning will require regional plans to include issue descriptions of the landscape rather than focusing on what the board is going to deliver and why. Plans including more than five strategic priorities will dilute the focus and resources of landscape boards, as will introducing circular overlapping concepts that misunderstand the role of integrated landscape management in managing our natural resources.
Finally, prevalence will be given to one type of knowledge above others, rather than a considered understanding of the interrelationship of all natural sciences together with traditional and local knowledge. In short, these amendments add unnecessary complexity to the work of boards in developing regional plans. I ask members to look at these amendments and to ask themselves what practical improvements will this additional complexity and prescription deliver. I also ask members to consider: is a focus on description of landscape issues the right approach to achieving outcomes when appropriate reporting of outcomes is already provided for?
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I agree with the minister to the extent that she said that these are themes that have been repeated a few times in the debate so far. At its most basic feature, what we are looking at in clause 45 is effectively the terms of reference for the regional landscape board when they are preparing their plan. We could debate uphill and down dale what to include and what not to include, but it seems to me that the opposition's position has been fairly consistent in relation to the four amendments to this clause.
There will be additional references to conservation use and management of natural resources. There will be additional references to taking the best available climate science into account. It is pretty difficult to not fail to understand the importance of climate when it comes to landscapes. As we see in the first and second week of September, half of New South Wales and Queensland are on fire, with unseasonal dry conditions and bushfires. Climate science is going to be integral to the work of these landscape boards, I have no doubt.
The particular amendment that is before us at the moment relates to a statement or information around the issues that exist in South Australia at the landscape regional or local level. I would have thought that most boards would probably have a few statements in there in relation to that anyway, but I do not think these amendments cause any harm. We all know that with terms of reference for inquiries or committees people will write and report on what they write and report on.
The bill is to give them guidance. I expect any other matters will often feature, as they do. But honestly—and it is up to the minister, of course—I do not think it is die in the ditch. I do not think it adds to the complexity a great deal. It just makes it clear the range of things that the parliament wants the regional landscape board to look at, so the Greens will be supporting the inclusions into clause 45 proposed by the opposition in this and the subsequent three amendments.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I indicate for the record that SA-Best will be supporting this particular amendment for reasons similar to those just outlined by the Hon. Mark Parnell. I do take the minister's point, though, in relation to the next amendment in terms of the limit of five high-level priorities in the strategic plan.
For the reasons that have been alluded to again by the Hon. Mark Parnell, we think that it is important to outline those further issues in amendment No. 19 [Maher-1] and, as such, we will be supporting that particular amendment, but I indicate now for the record that we will not be supporting the next amendment which seeks to alter the limit of five high-level priorities in the strategic plan to potentially more than five.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: For the record, I indicate that I will not be supporting the opposition's amendments.
The committee divided on the amendment:
|Bonaros, C.||Bourke, E.S.||Franks, T.A.|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hunter, I.K.||Maher, K.J. (teller)|
|Ngo, T.T.||Parnell, M.C.||Pnevmatikos, I.|
|Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
|Darley, J.A.||Dawkins, J.S.L.||Hood, D.G.E.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A. (teller)||Ridgway, D.W.|
|Stephens, T.J.||Wade, S.G.|
|Pangallo, F.||Lucas, R.I.|
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 20 [Maher–1]—
Page 55, line 13 [clause 45(1)(a)(ii)]—Delete 'its 5' and substitute 'at least 5'
I know that members have expressed some views on this as we considered amendment No. 19; however, I might try to persuade them with one last roll of the dice. I think this is particularly important, and we as the Labor opposition think it is particularly important. The bill in its present form requires regional landscape boards to have no more than exactly five strategic priorities. This amendment would enable them to have more than five priorities but sets a minimum of five to ensure the board's work is not too narrow in focus.
As I said, the opposition views this is as particularly important because of the huge diversity of priorities likely to be set by our regional landscape boards as they vary across the state. The huge geographic regions in the state's Far North are likely to have a range of priorities that they may wish to focus on that may be different but also may be more varied or less varied than other regions. Similarly, the experience in the Kangaroo Island region may be substantially different and there may be different priorities that are more or less varied than different areas.
The bill in its current form requires exactly no more than five, so that variance in the huge geographical differences across the state cannot be properly recognised by containing it so greatly. For example, the threat posed by climate change presents a unique set of challenges for the regional landscape boards, which will need to address these changes in our state landscapes. This amendment seeks to give the boards the flexibility to do this by focusing on further priorities when that board requires it.
Ultimately, we want to ensure the regional plans are useful documents that accurately reflect the challenge of that particular region without being constrained by some sort of arbitrary limit but without being too narrow to adequately address those issues.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The government opposes this amendment. The Leader of the Opposition has been arguing in favour of diversity of plans and that is something that certainly the government supports, but his amendment does not impact on that. What we have heard—and I can only repeat myself time and again—is that these amendments to this legislation are based on very strong community feedback that we received through the consultation process and is consistent with advice that we have received from many people who have been involved in the natural resources management process over many years, and that is that natural resources management attempts to be, driven by the legislation because it is so long and prescriptive, all things to all people.
We have seen the situation where boards feel obliged to have policies on everything, and because they cannot do everything they do not end up particularly focusing on things that should be priorities. There is nothing in the existing legislation that prevents the South-East Natural Resources Management Board from having different priorities to the Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board, and I stand to be corrected. Sorry, I keep saying 'NRM board'—I have been dealing with this legislation for so many years that I feel like Pavlov's dog sometimes—I should say 'landscape boards'.
There is nothing in the government's legislation that prevents each distinctive board, with its distinctive environmental characteristics, from focusing on those things that they determine are the most appropriate priorities.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I am sorry to disappoint the opposition, but I am convinced in this instance by the arguments that have been put by the government: one, in terms of the strong community feedback, but also in terms of ensuring that we get right the five priorities that are listed as the most important priorities, as opposed to stretching ourselves across a number of different priorities and achieving little in terms of any meaningful outcomes. In this instance, when it comes to the five high-level priorities, we will be supporting the government's position.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: This debate reminds me a little bit of The 12 Days of Christmas, and there will be a partridge in a pear tree, I think, because we have the seven key priorities and the five strategic priorities, and that adds up to 12. I think we are sweating the small stuff a little bit here. As I said before, we are happy to support the opposition in relation to this, but if it does not get up it does not get up. I do not think it will cause great harm to the legislation, but the Greens nearly always support flexibility where we can. But, honestly, there will be no shortage of opportunities for the boards to slot the things that they think are important into one of their seven key priorities or their five strategic priorities.
Unless I have that wrong—I am looking at paragraph (a)(i)—sorry, that is the Green Adelaide board. It is not 12; that is a separate organisation. The Green Adelaide board is the favourite, they get seven key priorities, but the regional boards only get their five strategic priorities. By the clever use of the English language and words like 'and', I am sure that if they have more than five things as their strategic priorities they will combine them into one, but if it does not get up, it does not get up. The Greens are supporting it, but I do not think it will be the end of the world if it does not survive this chamber.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I support the opposition's amendment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Without wanting to delay debate, I wish to take up the argument of the Hon. Mr Parnell. I will be paraphrasing him, so he will pull me up if he thinks I am incorrect. In terms of sweating the small stuff, yes, but these are important things because the regional landscape boards are effectively led by legislation. Effectively, he has been arguing that they will do what they want to do anyway or they will work out what it is that is important to them, so it is neither here nor there whether or not it is in the act.
In fact, what we have seen is that the existing legislation has driven a lot of the processes in terms of how natural resources management boards have gone about organising their planning processes. Therefore, what we put into the act is actually incredibly important because the regional landscape boards will be guided by what is in the act. I think it is a bit cute for anybody in this chamber to insinuate that these things are not insignificant. Just to repeat myself, the consultation was very, very clear that people who have been involved in this process are sick and tired of this legislation being prescriptive.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 21 [Maher–1]—
Page 55, line 21 [clause 45(1)(c)]—After 'level' insert:
, with particular reference to the conservation, use and management of natural resources,
This amendment seeks to ensure that sufficient focus is given to natural resources and the goals of conservation use and management in regional landscape plans. Very much like earlier Labor opposition amendments, this seeks to ensure that these outcomes are not lost in the change of language from natural resources management to landscape management.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If I can be blunt, I think this amendment is telling the regional landscape boards how to suck eggs. What we have is a term that is defined in the legislation: 'landscape' includes natural resources as well as 'natural and physical features, including coasts and seas', and 'human values and uses'. I think it is somewhat patronising to remind the boards of what their duties are. I think they will well understand that, and I think we ought to place a bit of trust in the people whom we appoint to undertake this incredibly important work.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: We support the amendment.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: We support this amendment.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I will be supporting the amendment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:
Amendment No 22 [Maher–1]—
Page 55, after line 34 [clause 45]—Insert:
(1a) A regional landscape plan must take into account the best available climate science information.
In the same way that earlier amendments have sought to ensure the use of the best available climate science in the landscape strategy, this amendment seeks to ensure that the same occurs in each regional landscape plan. Again, the urgency and unique threat of the climate emergency demands that we pay specific attention to it when planning for the future management of our state's landscapes. This amendment seeks to ensure that this is occurring at a regional level as well as at a statewide level. I commend the amendment to the chamber.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Once again, we oppose this amendment, not because climate change is not important; in fact, it is one of the key areas in the legislation in the appropriate section. However, once again, this is patronising and unnecessary. If we break down what is in the wording of this particular amendment, that is, 'the best available climate science', does the honourable member seriously think—and this is a rhetorical question—that the regional landscape boards are going to be using the worst possible climate science?
What about best available coastal erosion science, which is very important in parts of the South-East and along the metropolitan coast? Why don't we include that in the legislation? We could look at the most appropriate soil science for areas where soil erosion has been an issue.
The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:
The CHAIR: Leader of the Opposition, we are in committee. You had plenty of opportunity to have your say. Let the minister answer.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I would expect these sorts of amendments to perhaps come from groups that are seeking to make a particular political point but not from a major party which has held office and which would understand that clauses such as this are not necessary and really are quite patronising to people who will be appointed to these boards and whom we expect to undertake their duties in the best interests of the environment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I will take this opportunity to place on record—and be guided by you, Mr Chairman, to not interject. I think that the minister's assertions are ridiculous in the extreme. She might think that in this utopian world everyone accepts the best available climate science—they do not, Mr Chairman, they just do not.
We have seen members of her own party at a federal level throwing around lumps of coal in the federal parliamentary chamber. They are not guided by the best available climate science. In fact, they choose the worst available climate science. We saw the former prime minister, the federal leader of the minister's federal party, talk about climate science as 'crap'—I think that was the exact word he used—so for the minister to stand here with a straight face and say that of course everyone uses the best available climate science is just devoid entirely from reality and that is why we need these sorts of amendments.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Touché, Mr Chairman. The Leader of the Opposition has belled himself in betraying that this is merely a political point that he wishes to make.
The Hon. K.J. Maher: No, not at all.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Entirely.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: As tempting as it is to weigh into this I am not going to, other than to say that the Greens support the amendment. We believe that the best available climate science is a key input into the work of the boards and we think it does no harm. In fact, we think it does good to insert it into their marching orders under clause 45.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I indicate our support for this amendment.
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
Clauses 46 to 48 passed.
The CHAIR: We have amendments Nos 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 [Pangello-3]. The Hon. Ms Bonaros, are you going to speak to these amendments?
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I am going to attempt to speak to these amendments. My understanding was that we were going to move amendment No. 2 [Pangello-3], which is in effect a consequential amendment on [Pangello-6]. Does the Chair prefer that I speak to them all at once?
The CHAIR: I understand that it is consequential on a subsequent amendment but we have had a vote to test the committee's view on this clause and it was in the affirmative. We will do amendment No. 2 [Pangello-3] first.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: On behalf of the Hon. Frank Pangallo, I move:
Amendment No 2 [Pangallo–3]—
Page 58, lines 27 to 41 and page 59, line 1 [clause 49(4)(a) to (g)]—Delete paragraphs (a) to (g) (inclusive) and substitute:
(a) for a levy to be imposed under Part 5 Division 1 where a levy has not been imposed by the board in relation to the financial year immediately preceding the relevant financial year; or
(b) to impose a levy under Part 5 Division 1 which will require the approval of the Minister under section 65(4) or 69(10); or
(c) to change the basis of a levy under section 66(1) or 69(4); or
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: For reasons outlined in the previous committee stage of the debate, the government remains opposed to these proposals.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: It has been complicated because there have been a number of amendments on the same clauses. Before the winter break, various negotiations were held. The Greens had some amendments in relation to this issue of levy collection, which we are not pursuing, and instead we are supporting the Hon. Frank Pangallo's amendments. As this is consequential, we started the levy discussion earlier, before the winter break, so the Greens will be supporting all of the amendments in the set [Pangallo-3].
The Hon. C. BONAROS: On behalf of the Hon. Frank Pangallo, I move:
Amendment No 3 [Pangallo–3]—
Page 59, lines 12 to 18 [clause 49(5)(b) and (c)]—Delete paragraphs (b) and (c) and substitute:
(b) at the conclusion of the processes and consultation required under paragraph (a)—prepare a report to the Minister on the outcome of those processes and that consultation.
Amendment No 4 [Pangallo–3]—
Page 59, line 23 [clause 49(7)]—Delete '(5)(c)' and substitute '(5)(b)'
Amendment No 5 [Pangallo–3]—
Page 59, line 31 [clause 49(9)(a)(ii)]—Delete '64(5)' and substitute '65(4)'
Amendment No 6 [Pangallo–3]—
Page 60, line 18 [clause 49(14)(b)]—Delete '64(4)' and substitute '65(3)'
Amendments carried; clause as amended passed.
Clauses 50 to 63 passed.
Clauses 64 to 68 and new clauses 68A, 68B and 68C.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I move:
Amendment No 1 [Pangallo–6]—
Page 71, line 4 to page 74, line 13—Delete clauses 64 to 68 (inclusive) and substitute:
In this Subdivision, unless the contrary intention appears—
rateable land means rateable land under the Local Government Act 1999;
ratepayer means a ratepayer under the Local Government Act 1999.
65—Board may declare levy
(1) If the annual business plan for a regional landscape board specifies an amount to be contributed by ratepayers in respect of rateable land within the region of the board towards the costs of the board performing its functions under this Act in a particular financial year, the board may, by notice in the Gazette, declare a levy (a regional landscape levy) under this Subdivision.
(2) The amount specified by a regional landscape board in an annual business plan under subsection (1) in respect of a particular financial year should not exceed—
(a) unless paragraph (b) or (c) applies—the amount imposed by the board under this Subdivision for the immediately preceding financial year adjusted by the percentage applying under subsection (3); or
(b) an amount allowed by the Minister under subsection (4); or
(c) an amount approved by the Minister under subsection (6).
(3) The percentage applying under this subsection in respect of a particular financial year is the percentage change in the CPI (expressed to 1 decimal place) when comparing the CPI for the September quarter of the immediately preceding financial year with the CPI for the September quarter of the financial year immediately before that preceding financial year, being this percentage change published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(4) The Minister may allow a regional landscape board to specify an amount under this section that exceeds the amount that would otherwise be payable under subsection (2)(a) if the Minister is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist that justify the principle established by subsection (2)(a) not applying in relation to the board for a particular financial year.
(5) For the purposes of subsection (4), exceptional circumstances must fall into 1 of the following cases:
(a) that there is an urgent need to address an issue with existing infrastructure located within the board's region that cannot reasonably be dealt with through other funding sources or over a longer period;
(b) that there has been a natural or environmental disaster that has resulted in extraordinary measures being proposed by the board;
(c) that some other major event with an adverse impact on a significant part of the community within the board's region has occurred and the board considers that it should take immediate action in relation to the matter;
(d) that some other situation exists that is exceptional and that the benefits in allowing the board to impose an amount under subsection (4) in a particular financial year outweigh the fact that additional costs are to be imposed on the relevant community in a particular financial year.
(6) In a case where a regional landscape board did not declare a levy under this Subdivision in relation to the immediately preceding financial year, the Minister may approve an amount under this subsection for the relevant financial year after taking into account such matters as the Minister thinks fit.
66—Basis of levy
(1) A levy declared under this Subdivision may be based on 1 of the following factors, as specified in the relevant annual business plan:
(a) the capital value of rateable land;
(b) a fixed charge of the same amount on all rateable land within the relevant region;
(c) a fixed charge of an amount that depends on the purpose for which rateable land is used;
(d) the area of rateable land;
(e) any other factor prescribed by the regulations.
(2) Differential levies may be declared on any basis prescribed by the regulations.
(3) The purposes for which land may be used that may be the basis of a regional landscape levy under subsection (1)(c) may be prescribed by the regulations.
(4) A regional landscape board may, in declaring a regional landscape levy, fix a minimum amount payable by way of a levy under this Subdivision (despite a preceding subsection).
67—Liability for levy
(1) The person who is the ratepayer in respect of rateable land at 12.01 a.m. on 1 July of the financial year for which a regional landscape levy is declared is liable to pay the levy to the regional landscape board.
(2) Two or more persons who are ratepayers for the same land are jointly and severally liable for the regional landscape levy in respect of that land and are entitled to contribution between each other in proportion to the value of their respective interests in the land.
(3) A subsequent ratepayer of land is liable for a regional landscape levy, in respect of that land, that has not been paid by the person or persons liable under subsection (1) or (2).
(4) A subsequent ratepayer who has paid the whole or any part of a regional landscape levy is entitled to recover—
(a) the amount paid from the person primarily liable or, if there are 2 or more such persons, from any 1 or more of them;
(b) a part of the amount paid from another ratepayer (if any) in respect of the land that is in proportion to the value of their respective interests in the land.
(5) The Governor may, by regulation, grant remissions in respect of the levy, or part of the levy.
(6) In this section—
subsequent ratepayer includes a person who has ceased to be a ratepayer in respect of rateable land.
68—Constituent councils to provide information
(1) In connection with the operation of section 67, each constituent council for the region of the regional landscape board must, in accordance with the regulations, provide to the board—
(a) a full copy of its assessment record under section 172 of the Local Government Act 1999, as it is up-to-date for 1 July of the financial year in respect of which the regional landscape levy is to be imposed; and
(b) such other information prescribed by the regulations.
(2) The relevant regional landscape board is liable to pay a fee, determined by the Minister after consultation with the LGA, to a council in connection with the council providing an assessment record or other information under subsection (1).
68A—Notice and collection of levy
(1) The relevant regional landscape board must as soon as is reasonably practicable after the declaration of a regional landscape levy cause notices of the amount of the levy that must be paid in respect of any land for the relevant financial year to be prepared.
(2) A notice must state—
(a) the amount of the levy payable; and
(b) the factor on which the levy is based and, if it is a differential levy, the differential basis; and
(c) the date on or before which the levy must be paid or, if the regional landscape board is prepared for payments to be made in instalments, the amount of each instalment and the date on or before which it must be paid.
(3) The regional landscape board must provide the notices that have been prepared under this section to the Commissioner of State Taxation.
(4) The Commissioner of State Taxation will be responsible for—
(a) serving the notices on the persons who are liable to pay the levy; and
(b) collecting the levy under this Subdivision on behalf of the regional landscape board.
(5) The notices may be served with any notice served under the Emergency Services Funding Act 1998.
(6) The Commissioner of State of Taxation will be responsible for the costs of—
(a) serving any notice under this section; and
(b) collecting the levy under this Subdivision.
(7) If there are 2 or more persons liable to pay a levy, service of a notice on 1 of them will be taken to be service on both or all of them.
(8) The Governor may, by regulation, make any other provisions for the collection of the levy.
68B—Funds may be expended in subsequent years
To avoid doubt, if an amount due or paid to a regional landscape board under this Subdivision is not received or spent by the regional landscape board in the relevant financial year, it may be spent by the board in a subsequent financial year.
The Governor may, by regulation, provide for such other matters relating to the operation or administration of this Subdivision as the Governor thinks fit.
I move that it be a suggestion to the House of Assembly to amend the bill by leaving out clauses 64 to 68 and inserting new clauses 64 to 68C.
The CHAIR: Does any honourable member have a contribution on the suggested amendments that have been moved?
The Hon. C. BONAROS: Perhaps if I could confirm for the minister's benefit, these are substantive amendments in terms of the consequential amendments that we have been moving. The Hon. Frank Pangallo, during the previous session, did speak to these amendments in terms of what they are trying to achieve, and that is in relation to the board levies, so in effect we have the landscape board setting and declaring levies in their annual business plans and those levies are to be gazetted. The amendment sets out the parameters regarding what the levy amount can be and how it can be set, but it is the minister who ultimately has to approve those levies.
The amendment goes on to provide for CPI-capped increases as per the government bill and it also provides that the levies can be higher if the minister approves as much in exceptional circumstances, and then the amendment goes on to outline those criteria for exceptional circumstances. It is a lengthy provision. If the board does not set a levy and declare it, then the minister can set the amount that is to apply and then there is a formula, if you like, in terms of how the levy can be calculated.
The amendment then goes on to outline who is liable for the levy. If there is more than one ratepayer, they are jointly and severally liable. A subsequent ratepayer is liable for the original ratepayer's debt. They can be recovered by the subsequent ratepayer's—does the minister wish me to go on in terms of the amendment? I can. It then outlines the regulation powers with the Governor in terms of making concessions and so forth for pensioners.
The amendment then goes on to outline constituent information to be provided by councils. They have to provide the Landscape SA board with the information, that is, the assessment record and any other information as per the regs that the landscape boards will need to serve the levy and they will also give the Landscape SA board their database with the assessment records.
The Landscape SA board is liable to the council to pay a fee for the council providing this information to them but this is done after consultation with the LGA and, again, the minister sets the fee. Then there are regulations which control the detail of the information that is to be provided by the council so that issues of privacy are maintained. The amendment then goes on to provide clarification around the issue of notices and collection of levies, what has to be in the levy notice, and it provides that the levy notices must be given to the Commissioner of State Taxation. The Commissioner of State Taxation then serves the levy notices and collects the levies.
The levy notice may go out with ESL levy notices, if that is what the commissioner so chooses to do. The Commissioner of State Taxation is responsible for the costs of serving the levy notices and collecting the levy fees, and I think that is pretty much getting to the crux of the issue. Then there are further provisions in relation to funds that may be expended in subsequent years and regulation-making powers, all related to the provisions which I have very briefly outlined.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: This issue was prosecuted previously in the committee stage, so my comments will be brief and I will refer detailed explanation to that discussion. The government's position remains that councils should continue to collect the land levy as it is the most cost-effective way to collect the levy and maximises the funding available for on-ground delivery. This new clause proposed replaces the existing model with new arrangements that introduce double handling at each stage of the collection process.
I spoke to that in some detail previously and unfortunately was not successful in convincing our colleagues in this place of the difficulties in their proposal going forward, given that the frameworks, technology, etc., do not exist at the moment. It is much more complicated than people would, at first blush, like to believe that it is, and therefore we remain opposed to this proposal.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I know we are discussing amendments, but can I direct a question to the minister in relation to the clause generally and collection of levies?
The CHAIR: Sure.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I note there are many amendments and issues being raised in this clause, but a general question is: is it possible that in the changes from the NRM legislation to this bill, particularly in changes to boundaries, there could be a net loss in overall levy revenue or in the levy revenue for an individual board?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: While we are getting some more detailed information, can the member perhaps clarify whether it is just in relation to boundary changes or in relation to this particular proposal?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: It is not just in relation to boundary changes. I am interested in the change in legislation but particularly in relation to boundary changes. Could it result in less revenue?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If I can deal with the boundary issue separately, perhaps, the government has committed to there being no increase to land levies beyond CPI. Where some ratepayers are moved into a different regional board, they will have a reduced land levy because, as you know, some rates are higher and some are lower; therefore, by extension, that means that the overall rating will be reduced.
The bill enshrines a permanent CPI cap for water and land levies. Transitional arrangements will also apply in affected regions to cap any land levy rate increases by CPI for those ratepayers who would otherwise have paid a higher levy rate as a result of boundary changes. Currently, different levy rates apply in different regions. Moving to a common levy rate would have resulted in some paying a lower rate and some paying a higher rate. That is why that has been applied.
Transitional arrangements are proposed. These arrangements will result in significant reductions to the land levy rate paid for some ratepayers in the proposed Hills and Fleurieu, and Northern and Yorke regions. That is just in relation to boundaries. In relation to other matters, I think it is fair to say that, on the cost side, shifting to the proposed restructuring of how levies are collected will lead to increased costs. As I outlined in the previous committee stage, we believe that there will be significant costs involved in changing the collection, which will mean that there will be less money available for the boards for on-ground activities.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I have been left a little confused. Is the minister saying that no landowner will pay an increased levy, none at all, even if they change from the area they are in?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice that I have received is that that is correct. The only increases will be as a result of CPI increases.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: However, if a landowner, as a result of boundary changes, changes from a region that has higher levies into lower levies, they will get the benefit of the lower levies; is that correct?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes, that is correct.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: But if a landowner changes from a region that has lower levies into a region of higher levies as a result of a boundary change, they are going to be immune from that rise; is that correct?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that they will still be paying the lower rate.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: For how long will they be paying that lower rate? Does that mean that forevermore they are going to be paying that lower rate or is it a certain amount of time and then, as a result of the bill and the boundary changes, they will be paying a higher rate at some stage in the future?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes. There are transitional arrangements that will mean that the levy rate will be adjusted over several financial years; the final financial year in that scheme being 2022-23. If there are exceptional circumstances, those boards can seek to increase levies above CPI if there is some particular issue that means the cap is not going to allow for them and they can apply to the minister for exceptional circumstances.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I understand that part of it, but the context that we were talking about is a landowner who, as a result of boundary changes, goes from a region where they were paying less to a region where they ought to be paying higher. I think the minister has informed the chamber that they are going to be protected and they will be a landowner paying less than everyone else in that region when it is the result of a boundary change. Is that what the minister is saying?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I hope that I did not misunderstand the advice that I received previously. The advice that I have received is that a ratepayer who moves from a higher paying rate to a lower paying area will be adjusted through transitional arrangements to the lower rate of levy, and if the ratepayer is currently in an area where they are paying a lower rate and moves into a higher paying rate they will be protected forever from that higher rate, subject to exceptional circumstances, should they apply.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: So the amount of levies that are paid will reduce overall around the state, if for nothing else as a result of boundary changes?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We anticipate that the total overall take will be reduced but, based on the current boundary changes, we believe that will only be impacted in the Northern and Yorke region and the Hills and Fleurieu region.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Does the minister have an estimate of how many people it affects in the way that they are forever protected with the lower rate than other people in that particular region?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We do not have the exact information and, if I can put the caveat on that, it would be subject to the proposed boundaries being as they are. We can get back to the honourable member with the number of people or the number of rateable properties that would be affected in those regions where we anticipate that there will be some movement between regions.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Is it anticipated that the boundaries that will be created under this new legislation will remain in force for an extraordinarily long time, or is it anticipated that they might change over time? If so, for how long is it anticipated that the initial boundaries will be in force?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: There is a capacity for boundaries to be changed over time. The instrument is by gazettal, so it would depend on the willingness of the government of the day. I guess there are a range of variables in that: whether there is a change of policy, whether there is a change of government and all those sorts of things. There are lots of what-ifs in responding to that one, but that is a little bit difficult to answer.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: The policy of someone coming from a lower paying region into a higher paying region being protected in perpetuity—that is, they will forever be paying the lower amount—does that survive further boundary changes, or is this a once only boundary change proposition?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that that is the policy position of the current government.
The Hon. K.J. Maher: Does it apply for one boundary change or for multiple boundary changes?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It is not legislated, so it depends on government policy.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: What is this government's policy? If there were further changes, would that lower rate apply for subsequent changes or only for this first change?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think that is a very hypothetical question, which is quite difficult to answer. I might be putting myself out on a limb here, but I think the minister believes that the boundaries that have been published are well accepted by the community and does not anticipate that there would be any need for change.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Getting back to an issue that the minister raised earlier, the circumstances in which a board could impose a levy rise above the cap, what sort of circumstances would come into play? What might those exceptional circumstances be that would allow a board to raise above the cap?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have is that the types of exceptional circumstances may potentially involve environmental or natural disasters, significant impacts where the costs of addressing them are above what is currently available, to provide for flexibility. One example may be where a groundwater region determined that salinity was such a major issue that they were happy to accept that levy increases were necessary to address that particular matter. So it would be very much driven by the community.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I indicate for the record that I will not be supporting this. I am of the view that the current bill provides the most efficient and cost-effective solution to the problem.
The CHAIR: The Hon. Mr Parnell may have expressed a view, but—
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I thought I had expressed my view that we were supporting the amendment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I will express my view: I will be supporting this.
Suggested amendment carried; new clauses as suggested inserted.
Clauses 69 to 79 passed.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I move the following suggested amendment:
Amendment No 2 [Pangallo–6]—
Page 85, after line 5 [clause 80]—Insert:
(aa) a regional landscape levy; and
This is a suggested amendment to the House of Assembly.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: My understanding is that it is pretty well consequential to the issues that we have been discussing, so the Greens will continue to support this suite of amendments.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: For the same reason, the government continues to oppose them.
Suggested amendment carried; clause as suggested to be amended passed.
Clauses 81 and 82 passed.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: On behalf of the Hon. Frank Pangallo, I move:
Amendment No 3 [Pangallo–6]—
Page 85, line 22 [clause 83(1)]—Delete 'In the case of an OC levy,' and substitute:
In the case of a regional landscape levy or an OC levy,
I have moved that it be a suggestion to the House of Assembly to move clause 80 on page 85, line 22, by deleting 'In the case of an OC levy' and inserting 'In the case of a regional landscape levy or an OC levy'.
The CHAIR: You mentioned clause 80, but it is in fact clause 83. Could I ask you to confirm that correction to the motion you have moved?
The Hon. C. BONAROS: My apologies; I confirm that that is to clause 83.
The CHAIR: If my understanding is correct, this is virtually consequential.
Suggested amendment carried; clause as suggested to be amended passed.
Clauses 84 to 90 passed.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Can the minister confirm whether or not the bulk of the money in the landscape priorities fund is expected to come from the Green Adelaide board's levy revenue? I think it is the expectation that the majority of the funding for the landscape priorities fund will indeed come from the 91(2)(e) provision.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I can indicate to the honourable member that that is the case. The new landscape priorities fund will enable investment in large-scale integrated landscape restoration projects to address subregional, cross-regional and statewide priorities. A percentage of Green Adelaide's land and water levies, determined by the minister, will be dedicated to the fund. Investment from the fund will be guided by high-level principles in the state landscape strategy. There was overwhelming support for this particular proposal.
In relation to safeguards on the use of the landscape priorities fund, the fund can only be applied for limited purposes. The bill provides that the fund may be applied to address priorities for managing, improving or enhancing the state's landscapes, or for other purposes authorised by law.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the member for her answers, which were not actually to the question asked.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My answer at the start was yes.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: So is it expected that the bulk of the money will come from the percentage levy? Is that correct?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: What else does the government anticipate will make up sources of funding? I note that gifts and other things are contemplated in the act, but, realistically, what else does the government expect will flow as revenue into this fund?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that at this stage we are not anticipating that there will be other sources of funding.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: In her answer a couple of questions ago, the minister mentioned the application of this fund. Will the minister responsible personally sign off on all grants under this fund?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If the honourable member turns to clause 9(5), the advice is that the minister may apply any part, or the minister sets the criteria and priorities for the fund. As with most legislation, these matters can be delegated to particular officers and the like.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I take it from the answer then that it is envisaged that the minister will personally sign off on these grants unless it has been delegated to someone else?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice is that that is what is in the bill.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Has the minister mentioned the criteria that will be used to assess grants? I think that is under clause 91(7) of the bill. Has the minister responsible drafted those criteria and processes under clause 91(7) of the bill?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is, no, not at this stage.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Has the government given any consideration to what criteria might be set for that?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that preliminary work is being done by the department, but I cannot provide more detail.
Clauses 92 to 97 passed.
Progress reported; committee to sit again.