Local Government Amalgamation Legislation

Echo 11 December 2003

Parliament has risen for 2003 and will resume on 17 February 2004.

Local Government Amalgamation Legislation

The Coalition was extremely disappointed with the Carr Government's decision to leave this legislation hanging over the head of every council in NSW until next year. It was pleasing that the crossbenches in the Upper House joined with The National and Liberals in their opposition to the Bill, but it was unfortunate Labor had left this important issue in the balance rather than accepting the will of the Parliament and people of NSW to vote the Bill down.

Natural Resources Legislation

Last week the Coalition voted against the natural resource legislation, however the Labor Government once again did not listen to the voice of the people. The Bill presented to Parliament did not bear any resemblance to the Sinclair Report as promised by the Premier and the Minister. It was also disappointing that the Government did a deal with certain crossbench members to defeat an amendment to retain the NSW Coastal Council. The Nationals major concerns remaining with the Bill includes:
No guarantee of promised compensation for farmers whose productive capacity is cut by this legislation; A failure to adequately devolve power from Sydney to the new regionally-based Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs); Giving CMAs the power to levy landholders to make up funding shortfalls - effectively another tax on rural landowners; Effectively reversing the onus of proof, meaning farmers have to prove their innocence rather than another party proving their guilt; The effective shutdown of the NSW firewood collection industry; The definition of "broadscale clearing" remains the removal of as little as just one tree; The doubling of penalties from the original bill for breaches of the Act; Third party rights which allow vexatious litigants to tie farmers up in costly legal proceedings; Giving the power to the Minister to dictate what are routine agricultural management activities; Failure to clearly spell out in the bills the situation relating to private native forestry, which sustains hundreds of jobs across NSW; Failing to detail whether threatened species legislation will override Property Vegetation Plans.

Parks Fees Increasing

I have received advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Service that the day entry fees will increase by $1 from 1 May 2004. Exemptions continue to apply and NSW Seniors are still eligible for a 20% discount off the price of an annual pass. Bus passenger prices are not changing at this stage a separate review of this will occur in the future. More information regarding the new price structure for park use fees which include day use fees, camping fees and annual passes is available on the website www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au.

Local Students

Many students who completed the HSC this year would be now preparing for further studies, job opportunities and embarking on new adventures. I would like to wish you all well in your future endeavours and trust that you all follow your chosen journey into careers and adult life with zest and determination. For those pursuing employment, the following websites may be useful www.jobs.nsw.gov.au and www.daa.dwps.nsw.gov.au selecting `NSW Government jobs'.

Review of Aboriginal Education

The Minister for Education has announced a review of the scope and effectiveness of the Department of Education and Training's Aboriginal education policies and programs. The review program has been developed in partnership with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc (AECG) and has the endorsement of the NSW Teachers' Federation. Submissions are being sought and further details are available on www.det.nsw.gov.edu/reviews or you can lodge your submission by writing to The Executive Officer, Aboriginal Education Review Secretariat, Department of Education and Training, Level 7, 35 Bridge Street SYDNEY NSW 2001 or email - aersecretariat@det.nsw.edu.au

Freshwater Fish Stocking

The Freshwater Fish Stocking Draft Fishery Management Strategy and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has prepared an EIS, examining the environmental impacts and risk of the existing stocking program and the estimated changes to those impacts and risks if the draft management strategy was implemented. The Fish Stocking EIS is on public exhibition from 7 November to 19 December 2003. Any person may make a submission and further information is available at www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au.

NSW Ombudsman Review of Acts

The NSW Ombudsman undertakes reviews of the implementation of various Acts and welcomes submissions on any aspect of these Acts, including (where possible) details of any experiences with the operation of these Acts. Information on the Acts currently being reviewed can be obtained via website www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/legislative/index.html or telephone tollfree 1800 451 524.

As 2003 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy and holy Christmas. I trust that 2004 will bring happiness and good health.
Thomas George, Karen, Bronwyn & Julie

My office will be closed from 12 noon Wednesday 24 December and will reopen 9 am Monday 5 January 2004.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577