Natural Resources Committee: Levy Proposals 2017-18

Debate resumed.

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:11): I rise to make a quick contribution on these three reports in regard to the natural resources management levy proposal, including Arid Lands, Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.

Every year, we seem to have rises in natural resources levies, and I note the reasons given for the 118 per cent increase in the Kangaroo Island levy, from $36 per rateable property to $79. When I first saw the 118 per cent figure, I just about fell out of my chair, but as it was such a modest start rate perhaps it is not so bad. I certainly have a lot of respect for Richard Trethewey, who has been mentioned here, and his comments. He has put a good case for why that levy should rise. He spoke about weed and feral pest management. Let's hope that is where the money is spent appropriately because what has always confounded me, and I have said it in this place many times, is the amount of money spent on administration in natural resources management.

 

I will put on the record again that my wife help set this up years ago. She is an environmental scientist and she was involved in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The frustration is because of the legislation, which needs major reform. There are many plans that need five-yearly reviews and three-yearly reviews, and my concern has always been that so much time, effort and revenue are spent reviewing these plans that people are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of effort out on the ground.

In regard to pest management, or management of corellas, for instance, it is interesting when natural resources management decides, 'No, we don't do anything with that. We will leave that up to councils.' Corellas are one of those things that a lot of councils have trodden carefully about. When you look at the other side of the issue, corellas are causing massive environmental damage, especially along the coastline, around Strathalbyn and in my electorate of Murray Bridge, yet NRM boards say that it is not their responsibility. I am a bit dumbfounded by that because I would have thought that that is the exact thing that should be managed.

Yes, it is a difficult issue, but some councils, like the Coorong council, have a relocation program in place, and some of these corellas are permanently relocated to a better place, and it has been very successful. It just goes to show that if you have the desire you can do it. Not only is there damage to the natural habitat and trees and plants around the place but there is also the issue of tearing buildings apart. In regard to a building like the Coorong council's reasonably new offices, external wooden slats seem to be the trend now, and I have seen this on other buildings around the place, such as some education buildings. They are quite decorative, but they are a fair target for corellas.

Sometimes people need to have a good look at the bigger picture and what is happening and not see just one side of the argument because parts of the environment are being affected. It is a little bit like an overabundance of koalas on Kangaroo Island at times that tear through the habitat and gum trees and can have quite a detrimental effect. The agriculture minister mentioned fur seals, and that really needs be looked at into the future. I know there is a lot of timidity about New Zealand fur seals, but people really need to have a very good look at the issues and what else is being impacted, like pelicans, musk ducks and other species along the Coorong and Lower Lakes, and realise that it is not just a one-way discussion.

I am not a marine scientist, but I believe that some marine scientists, if they were able to speak freely, would certainly agree with me that they are having an impact on fish stocks. We see whiting breeding grounds under pressure, and we see that garfish have been fully fished now for several years, which means that, being fully fished, they are at their max. I think there needs to be a good assessment of what management protocols can be put in place. The one thing I wish is that natural resources management boards do just that—manage some of these natural resources.