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Natural resources gurus face revamp and scrutiny.

June 26, 2015

Regular followers of “Grumpy” may have noticed over the years that he does not exactly have a high opinion of the body known as the Natural Resource Management Board.

And this year’s budget papers from Unley Council do nothing to change my opinion, with  the organisation’s “take” from this year’s budget topping  the $1million milestone for the first time.  And precious little, if anything, coming back to Unley’s benefit.

So I have been somewhat mollified, courtesy of Council administration, by news from the Local Government Association’s latest action on the NRM scene that brings the VERY welcome suggestion that Local Government should concentrate its focus on amendments to the existing natural resource management framework and integrate the objectives into the Local Government Act.. In plain terms,  that Councils would/could gain significant control of the environmental coffers.

At their March meeting last year the LGA Board noted feedback from Councils on its Local Government and NRM Options Paper. and asked its secretariat to investigate the development of a legislative proposal later that year. The result? The LGA’s “Local  Excellence Expert Panel”  recommends that the authority to manage natural resources and native vegetation clearance become the responsibility of regional councils, on condition that technical expertise and support was provided by the relevant State authorities.

Significantly, the  principles endorsed by the LGA board included the issue that natural resources plan and investment reflected council priorities, with 80% of both the NRM level and commonwealth grant funds  spent on ground activities and less than 20% on administrative overheads. It also stated that the on-ground spend should be clearly visible to Councils and communities.

But the BIG news, and sting in the report’s   tail, was that:

“The NRM levy collection should not be contentious or cause political issues, and Councils should have control over how and when the levy is collected”.

I wonder how that will go down in the corridors on Greenhill Road?


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