NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT COMMITTEES

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS(14:53:31): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation questions regarding the abolition of the North Para, South Para and Northern Foothills NRM committees.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: In a letter to committee members of 7 November from Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board presiding member Professor Chris Daniels, longstanding committee members were informed that the board will 'discontinue the North Para, South Para and Northern Foothills NRM committees as formal subcommittees of the board'. The abolition of these committees, which was discussed by the local NRM board at a meeting on 23 October of this year, was a direct result of the Premier's announced axing of state government boards and committees and the subsequent request for the local NRM board to review its underlying committee structure.

The process for this abolition originally started from a letter sent by the minister to the committee chairs asking them to justify their existence. Each committee responded with substantial submissions highlighting the significant grassroots community work and consultation they do for the local NRM board. However, no further consultation or reasoning was given prior to, or following, their abolition. My questions are:

1.Will the minister advise the council who will assume the work and effort conducted by the three abolished committees?

2.Have the members of those committees been thanked for their efforts and advised how their expertise and experience can best be harnessed within the NRM system?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER(Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation)(14:55:22): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. However, I need to advise him that neither I, nor anyone else, has the power to abolish those committees except for the NRM boards themselves. My agency is undertaking a process with NRM boards to review their boards and committees. We have requested them to do that and they are cooperating with us.

The powers that will be given to abolish boards and committees, should the parliament determine to do so, will be in the omnibus bill. The committees and boards that we would have some ability to make some decision over would be the NRM boards themselves, but my position and the present position of the government is that the NRM boards are doing good work in their local communities and should be supported to continue.