HERITAGE AGREEMENT PROGRAM

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:36): My question is to the Minister for Environment and Water. Can the minister inform the house how landholders and the environment will benefit from the government's changes to the Heritage Agreement Program and how they compare to previous programs?

The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS (Black—Minister for Environment and Water) (14:36): It's great to be able to update the house on the Marshall Liberal government's reinstatement of funding to the Heritage Agreement Program. Of course, many people might not know what heritage agreements actually do because they were largely defunded under the former Labor government.

What they do is provide funding to conservation projects on private land, which seek to see native vegetation fenced off and preserved, and the owners of that native vegetation provided with incentive-based grants in order to undertake some of that revegetation, perhaps undertake weed control, feral animal control, securing that vegetation through fence lines, etc. These are particularly focused on areas such as creek lines and linking up tracts of native vegetation across landscapes.

This program really is one that has received very significant conservation traction in the past. It was a program that was initiated by the Tonkin government in 1980. It was designed to recognise that the vast majority of land in this state is under the care and control of private individuals, either through privately owned titles or long-term leases, such as pastoral leases.

While we are very fortunate in South Australia to have the vast majority—well, a great proportion, not the majority by any means—of our land held in the reserve system, the vast majority of our land will always be owned or leased, in terms of long-term leases, by private individuals. That's why it is so important to support private individuals and families to undertake conservation work.

The new, revitalised program will look at conservation outcomes on private land, and it will be particularly focused on creating those landscape-scale corridors, joining up land in areas where there are existing conservation parks, so we can get broader corridors of native vegetation which is intact and in a sustainable and healthy state, or actually focusing on the creation of new heritage agreements as well. We have a good number of heritage agreements in regional South Australia. In fact, the member for Hammond has a very large number in his electorate. They are throughout regional South Australia, but we can always get better.

Our back-to-basics approach to natural resources management in this state, through the Landscape South Australia boards, which are in the process of being set up now, will enable us to partner far more successfully and in a much more focused way with private landowners, recognising that they have care and control of such large portions of South Australia's landscape. We want to work alongside private landowners, not-for-profit organisations and government agencies, particularly through the Department for Environment and Water, and the new decentralised landscape boards.

This is a great program. It has been really exciting to work alongside not-for-profit organisations as we have looked at developing and revitalising this program. We have had input from the Greens. It has, though, been very disappointing, extremely disappointing, that the South Australian Labor Party chose to vote against the opportunity to set up this program, a shameful situation—

The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order, Mr Speaker: that is clearly debate, sir.

The SPEAKER: The point of order is for debate. Minister, I have allowed some compare and contrast to a point. I ask you to come back to the substance of the question.

The Hon. D.J. SPEIRS: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will just conclude by saying this is a great program. It has been reinstated after it was defunded by the Labor Party and we are getting on with delivering it.