New South Wales’ peak farm representative body has welcomed the repeal of the “unworkable and detrimental” Native Vegetation Act in the State.
New vegetation management laws are set to be enacted in NSW in July 2017, after the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 were passed in both houses of NSW Parliament last Thursday.
NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen said the Native Vegetation Act had been a huge source of frustration for many farmers across the state since it was enacted 21 years ago.
Farmers had been forced to helplessly watch biodiversity decline and productivity decrease as a direct result of perverse outcomes from the soon to be repealed Act, he said.
The new laws would provide the foundation for a more holistic approach to native vegetation management.
‘Biodiversity is important to farmers and it plays an integral part of our farming operations.
“We want it to be vibrant while at the same time have the flexibility to properly manage our farms,” Mr Schoen said.
“NSW Farmers acknowledges the introduction of the laws is just the beginning of the long road to comprehensive reform.
“We will be keeping a close eye on the reforms as outstanding elements are finalised and rolled out, including regulations and codes.
“It’s extremely important that Local Land Services is resourced and ready to carry out its important functions to engage farmers on-the-ground.”
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the package will allow farmers care for their land while improving on-farm productivity.
“For two decades farmers and our environment have been burdened with Labor’s legislation, and with these changes, the shackles will finally be removed from our farmers and their communities,” Mr Barilaro said.
Environment Minister Mark Speakman said the package of reforms contained strong environmental safeguards, including sensible limits on clearing, offset requirements and exclusions.
“This legislation is supported by a record investment of $240 million over five years in private land conservation, plus $70 million per year after that,” Mr Speakman said.
“This is in addition to $100 million for the Saving Our Species program.”
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair said the new legislation marked the start of a new relationship between Government and farmers.
“NSW farmers and landholders can finally celebrate the end of the broken Native Vegetation Act – now our focus will turn to getting implementation right for these critically important reforms,” Mr Blair said.
“These reforms will finally allow our farmers to get on with the job of becoming more efficient and productive, while improving biodiversity, which has and always will be their top priority.”
The reforms implement the 43 recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review, which the NSW Government commissioned in 2014, and drew on feedback received during an extensive consultation process with key stakeholders and the community.
The NSW Government intends for the Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 to commence in 2017. For more information, visit landmanagement.nsw.gov.au.
NSW Farmers’ President Derek Schoen said the organisation would continue to work with Government to ensure the package operates in a sensible and practical manner, allowing farmers flexibility in their productive endeavours while contributing to biodiversity conservation.
“We need to start re-building the trust and respect between landholders and government, and this package represents the ideal opportunity to do this.”