This speech is in relation to the Natural Resources Committee: Natural Resources South Australia Business Plans and Regional Levies 2016-17
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins:
That the report of the committee on Natural Resources South Australia Business Plans and Regional Levies, 2016‑17, be noted.
(Continued from 8 June 2016.)
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 17:22 ): I will make a brief contribution on this motion given that I have spoken at length when introducing my bill just moments ago. The Natural Resources Committee has a very important role in the oversight of these levies. I would like to endorse the comments made on 8 June by our Liberal member on the committee, the Hon. John Dawkins, and also for those who are looking for the full package of speeches on these matters they might like to also read the contributions of a number of Liberal House of Assembly members on 8 June who spoke about levies for the 2016-17 financial year in their particular districts.
I acknowledge the role of the committee. I do not know if the previous speaker wrote the speech, or who wrote it for him, but I thought that it was unnecessarily narky and engaged in shooting the messenger. However, that aside, I am proud of the Liberal members for voting against the levy increases for the 2016-17 financial year. I do give credit to the Labor members of the committee for expressing concerns about the levy increases for the coming financial year.
The way that these increases have been done has, I think, really been contemptuous of water levy payers in South Australia. They are being lumped with a whole lot of Murray-Darling Basin costs which I think most South Australians would say are the responsibilities of the state. We were led to believe, through last year's estimates, that those Murray-Darling Basin costs would be paid for through general revenue and here we are, less than 12 months later, the irrigators staring down the barrel of being forced to pay for them by this very cynical government.
I have often said before that I see this as the straw that will break the camel's back as far as any confidence in the NRM system is concerned. Many people say that they do not know where their levies go. Under the previous system, weeds used to be managed, pests used to be managed, and the water catchment boards operated effectively and their soil boards operated effectively. Now, nobody knows where those costs go. The costs are, in a large quantum, actually being used to prop up the environment department's budget. Effectively it is a tax, and I think I have outlined that in relation to the bill that I have introduced today.
I would like to acknowledge the work of the boards and say that we do understand what has been shunted upon them by this government. I think it will be more difficult in the future to find people who are willing to serve on those boards. I think it is time that there be a complete rethink about this particular program, given that a lot of the programs that used to be funded are now no longer able to be funded. It is quite a broken system. The grand promises that were given when the system was established by this Labor government in 2004 have shown manifestly to be a complete and utter failure and this government has nobody else but themselves to blame for it.
Debate adjo urned on motion of Hon. D.W. Ridgway .